In our paddling journey, we often hit dead ends, have a bad day, pickup injuries or simply lose interest over time. Here’s some ideas to not just get you back into paddling, but spice up your skills and love being on the water again.
Here are my 10 ways to fall in love with paddling again.
Fear! Sometime we’re not sure why we even bother.
Try a different discipline – if you’re a kayaker, try a canoe. Embrace the range of skills which you can learn from a different discipline, skills which are transferable across all paddlesport. You could try open canoeing, C-boating, kayaking, marathon, sprint, slalom, SUPing, rafting, dragonboating… the possibilities are endless!
Try a different boat – Is your boat too small, too bit or simply not giving you the performance you need? There is a huge range of boats out there to try. Ask to demo at a pool session or club session, look around shops, don’t just go for the ‘safe option’. If you’re too cosy in your creekboat, try something slicier, shorter or ‘old skool’ to put the excitement back into your river paddling.
Playboats and surfing can teach you a lot about edge, trim and posture.
Get some coaching – Coaching is invaluable to your progression and feeling of achievement and success. Get some coaching from the experts in your discipline, or even better, become a coach so you can assess your own paddling and use you skills to give something good back to the paddling community.
Work towards a goal – BC Star Awards give benchmarks to work towards with regards to skills and leadership. It’s not all about the certificates though! There might be a stretch of water which you aim to be confident on or a race you would like to aim for. Remember smart targets!
Develop outside your comfort zone
Change your kit – The cold/wet/miserable aspect of paddlesport (especially in the British winter) can be really make you question why you’re paddling in the first place. Hotaches, ice-cream head, numb feet, icicle nose – all particularly unpleasant! There could be a gamechanging piece of kit out there including skull caps, neoprene socks, pogies, thermals and dare I say a decent cag or drysuit? If in doubt, a hot flask is also a winner!
Paddle with different people – If you paddle with different groups, you will learn new leadership skills and safety skills quickly. It will also define how you would like to paddle, lead and coach, using the best leaves of everyone else’s books! You’ll also meet new friends, bonus!
5* Training on the Findhorn with Wild River
Join a club – Club’s don’t just offer coaching and trips, they offer a superb range of social opportunities whether it be post-paddle BBQs, camping weekends and curry nights! Make sure you choose a club which will support you in your discipline and has an active social scene.
Find a pool session – The gold dust of UK paddling, the elusive pool session. If you can get a place on one of these, make the most of it. Learn to roll: It will help you avoid those off-putting swims and give you more confidence to take on that rapid or those sea conditions you’ve dreamed of paddling!
You’ll never know when you’ll need that roll! Photo credit: Ian Hunter.
Find new places to explore – Don’t paddle the same coastline, lake, canal or river all the time. This is your comfort zone and nothing grows there. Explore new places for maximum enjoyment and develop your skills in different environments to become a more experienced paddler. There are also so many exciting locations to paddle around the world! Dream big!
Look at the positives – You could ask “why did I stop loving to paddle in the first place?” Narrow it down to something specific. Can you rectify it? Will a pool session give you that golden roll? Will canoeing offer an alternative for injuries ailments and building confidence? Will sea kayaking help me to explore more and enjoy nature? Was it the friendships and comradery? Fitness and health benefits? Being an active part of a club or group? Was it the thrill of hitting big drops? Get back in a boat for the reasons you loved it.
Always look on the Brightside!
Words and Pictures: Kirstie Macmillan