So I have been watching two videos about technique. I can't understand if they are describing the same thing in different ways or the techniques are diametrically opposed.
Video #1. Connor Baxters video on Blue Planet with Robert Stehlik. In the last quarter of the video he describes the drive. He seems to "sit in a chair" and drive his hips FORWARD to the paddle.
Video #2.. Larry Cains Video Analysis 01. Larry describes sitting in the chair as a fault and tells the paddler to move the hips forward so you can use the big muscles to drive BACK.
I'm confused. Are these two completely different techniques on paddling or what?
Yes, they are different. Connor has his own unique style and it is different than what most others would teach. Having said that, he certainly gets results with what he is doing, so I think it comes down to finding out what works for you.
Pono Bill is correct in that technique is extremely difficult to explain. There are others on this board who are way better paddlers than I am, so I’ll ask them to chime in if I get anything wrong. This is my take on it. One of the best ways I’ve heard the stroke technique described is to make sure you pull yourself to the paddle. Don’t pull the paddle to you. This maybe doesn’t make a lot of sense in writing, but when you are out on the water it does. It really means that you don’t use your arms to paddle, you use your core. Part of using your core involves a body twisting motion. And as part of this body twisting you can use your hips to help thrust you forward. It actually works.
As an example. If I’m in a race and coming up to a buoy turn and I’m a little bit off line to where I want to enter the turn, I can actually use my hips to bring myself back online. Instead of taking the time to switch the paddle over to the other side, I just thrust my hips even more than usual and it will act just like a correcting stroke. I'm not thrusting my hips like Connor says, but rather thrusting my hips as part of my core twisting motion. The hips become part of the twisting motion. Your hips can and should be a powerful part of your stroke.
You’ll also notice with Larry Cain that he paddles with one foot slightly forward than the other. He uses a staggered stance. I actually like that stance, but most would teach that you should have your feet even with each other. I think this is one of those things that you do whatever works best for you.
One more thing about stroke technique. Last year I had some pretty serious elbow issues, most of which I believed were related to paddling. I didn’t paddle most of last winter to rest my elbows and then I started to examine stroke technique to try and see if there was something I was doing wrong. I tried so many different techniques, and looked at so many different videos, that I was totally lost and confused, and quite frankly got really frustrated. I just got really lost in what I was actually supposed to be doing. I went out with a young fellow I know who is an excellent paddler and he gave me just a couple of very minor pointers that got me back on track, but my point is it is really easy to get lost and confused in stroke technique.
Once again there are some very good paddlers on this site with a lot more experience than I have, so hopefully they will chime in as well. I’ve just listed what works for me.