The coiled spring
The coiled spring is a way to think about generating potential energy in between strokes.
A lot of paddlers think about their movement pattern during strokes...but then switch off in between.
It's important to realise that one paddle stroke flows into another...and another...and another...like a never ending circle.
Your bum, trunk and pulling arm are the important bits here.
If you finish off a stroke well, and engage these body parts proactively, your next stroke will be better set up and a lot more powerful.
Here's how it works!
During the pull through phase of the stroke (Figure A), your trunk rotates around with the paddle and your bum has started to slide in the seat.
You can't see it in the picture but your leg has started to take a lot of the load here.
This phase of the stroke should feel heavy as you pull your boat and your body past the paddle.
At the back of the stroke (Figure B) your leg is fully engaged and you end up sitting on one bum cheek for a split second.
Most of the weight should be coming off the stroke by now, so your trunk can move more freely and assist with the exit.
Raising the pulling arm (from the elbow) exits the blade.
>> Game over for most paddlers here, the next stroke is often taken without additional body movement or pause <<
The blade is now free of the water.
Continue to rotate your trunk in the direction of the stroke just taken (Figure C).
Your trunk has now become a "coiled spring" - the rotational energy is stored ready to unwind during the next stroke.
Pause for a split second, letting the boat run out.
Maintain the coiled spring!
Make a right angle with the arm that has just taken the stroke (Figure D).
This sets you up in a powerful position - you will be able to stay "on top" of your work as you transition to the next stroke.
The paddler pictured here is a good example of the coiled spring.
He's achieved this with 9 months of coaching and regular group training, plus a willingness to learn and improve.
There's still a few things to fix (pushing hand is too high in Figure A, a little too much power applied to the back of the stroke in Figure C), but a really solid foundation has been built around effective trunk rotation and getting set up with his body in between strokes.
The coiled spring - give it a go!