I am so excited to have the privilege of posting the following knee paddling technique from Australia’s paddling and coaching phenom, Mick DiBetta. I have done a little bit of training and river paddling with Mick and his crew in Australia over the years, and it has definitely helped me up my knee paddling game! Read on, and thanks Mick for sharing your knowledge!
The diagrams break down the paddling technique into 5 phases:
A fully extended trunk, straight back and strong mid section, working off a very strong hip and knee frame will produce a long powerful stroke. The arms must be locked out at the elbows and fully extended hands. The hip and knee frame should come up to near 90 the mid section will uncoil forward like a spring under tension.
2. Pull/ drive
This is the power phase of the stroke with a good set up in the "catch". The stroke starts the pull using all the major points and muscles. The arms drive to just below elbow depth and retract back to just before a 90 degree angle from the shoulder s, the back slightly arched and the hip and knee angle closes up slightly to give the power to stroke from all the big muscles and joint movements.
The arms go to full dept at a 90 degree angle to the shoulders, and the biceps should run along the rails of the board, pushing the board in a forward direction and into more of a gliding motion. The back is fully arched and the mid section tightly crunched (like a sit up crunch) and the legs push back to give the smooth but powerful push to the stroke.
The push phase finished at the point where elbows and forearms can no longer direct a force on the water. This is around the knee to just past the knee area, and the elbows and hands should exit the water in a direct lifting motion. In that same motion the legs and back are raising up to assist with the hands and arms leaving the water quickly so no drag is created in the stroke. The elbows and shoulders should all be at the same height, with the forearms and hands hanging at angle, at the end of the exit phase. This will give the paddler good balance, and the board continuous momentum leading into the recovery phase.
Through the recovery phase, the body should relax and flow with the forward movement of the board. The legs raising forward and upright, the back returning straight and closer to the catch position. The paddler should ride the board through the recovery phase allowing the board to keep the forward momentum assisting in less effort being required to move the board for the next stroke.