I heard the coach say “we are working on technique today”. What does that mean?
Sprint kayaking is more than just paddling around on flat water. The coach is teaching, watching and filming each athlete to analyze his/her kayak stroke. The coach is looking at 5 specific areas of the stroke: the set-up, drive, catch, pull and exit. According to the USA Canoe/Kayak Technical Template, the set-up is key, as it paves the way for the rest of the stroke. An important cue to remember for the set-up is to “sight the horizon” through the knuckles in the bottom hand. The drive phase involves a powerful downward motion from the set-up to the water. The catch refers to the paddle entering the water and maintaining a solid, square position. The pull, perhaps the most important part of the stroke, involves a powerful drive of the legs against the foot-board, accompanied by a rotation of the hips and torso. The exit should be quick and quiet, and the paddle should be out of the water before it drags behind the paddler’s hip.
To the observer, it may look like the kayaker is only using the arms and upper body. The reality is that the athlete’s core, legs and hips are doing the work.
After practice the coach reviews the film with each athlete to review the stroke and offer both positive and corrective feedback.