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Learning to love flatwater practice

Although I got into whitewater kayaking because I love whitewater, sometimes the whitewater isn’t always available. I’ve learned to love flatwater practice almost as much as running rapids. In fact, flatwater has been the place where I’ve really developed my freestyle skills, my fine skills in paddle technique, as well as my paddling strength.

Some advantages to flatwater paddling are that you can learn how to do moves, without the aid of the force of the current. This way you can be sure that you’re doing all the moves with the proper body mechanics, and not just getting lucky with the current. There’s also zero consequence and no rocks, so you can just purely work on skills. I have spent hours flipping over and flopping around working on my freestyle moves.

Another thing I like about flatwater is that it’s always readily available. In the Northeast, there’s always a lake or a flatwater section of river that’s nearby, so even if the rivers aren’t running, I can still get a practice session in.

Flatwater is also a great strength builder. Without gradient creating the whitewater and moving your boat, you are your boat’s motor. Any power applied to your boat is coming from your core and as a result you are building strength as you paddle. If you’re training for a race or even just want to experience less fatigue during your weekend runs, flatwater practice is a great way to supplement your paddling.

Even if you’re a part of the world where the rivers freeze up, there’s always time to be spent in a pool to improve your technique as well. If your area doesn’t have pool sessions, now’s the perfect time to organize sessions for your local paddling community, and soon you will learn to love flatwater as much as I have!

See you on the river!