Devote some time to practice and you’ll realize there is no such thing as offside. Use these not-so-secret Jedi training tips to improve your offside skills. Commitment to using the stroke is half the battle…Do or do not, there is no try.
Starting on your onside, begin paddling in a circle with your paddle to the inside of the turn. Once you’ve developed some momentum and rhythm, switch to your offside to form a second circle in the opposite direction. Maintain a consistent circle to your offside.
If your boat starts to carve towards your onside, switch back to this side and get yourself reset on your figure of eight. Maintaining a steady, consistent tilt to the inside of your turns, or the side you’re paddling on is key.
Circles to the offside are easier when they are smaller. As you get more comfortable with the stroke, practice enlarging your circle by lessening your tilt and lengthening your stroke.
- Lean forward. Use a sitting-up motion to generate power from your lower body. Because your arms are crossed, it’s difficult to generate much power from them. Think about planting your paddle and moving the boat to the paddle with your lower body.
- Prevent the paddle from hitting the side of the boat. If the paddle is close to the boat or right against it, the blade tends to get stuck under the hull, making things feel a bit tippy.
- Develop a range of motion on your offside by reaching out and extending your body.
- Keep your paddle in the water the whole time. Use an underwater slice recovery to bring your paddle forward for the propulsion phase of your stroke. Think about pulling the bow toward the paddle while slicing your paddle through the water—this will help you control the arc of your turn and keep you moving in a consistent circle on flatwater.
- Keep your weight low and on your seat. Avoid shifting too much weight to your knees. This will prevent your bow from pearling, which often causes the whole boat to wobble and makes it difficult to hold a consistent edge. By keeping your weight centered on the saddle, you maintain stability and a steady edge.
- Make smooth, purposeful transitions from your offside to your onside and vice versa.
- A good way to get comfortable side surfing offside is to enter the hole on your offside. Choose a hole that is so small you’d normally pass it by for surfing and approach it from your offside. To improve your comfort further, force yourself to exit towards your offside whenever you’re surfing a hole.
This story originally appeared on page 21 of the Early Summer 2012 issue of Rapid magazine. Read the entire issue here.