In San Diego - Set up is everything

By Jim on Monday, December 19, 2011

Perhaps the most important aspect of competing is having a strong mind and solid technique.  Ex USA Olympic team member Chris Barlow,  certainly has a strong mind and great technique but perhaps his greatest achievement his work in creating the incredibly supporting community that he has help to build around the San Diego Canoe and Kayak Team (SDCKT).

That support has seen the club become one the most successful clubs in the USA having produced National Junior champions, senior champions as well as Olympic Team members.


In this Podcast Chris Barlow provides his thoughts on the importance of a good set up.  We also get a glimpse of some of the amazing junior talent from the SDCKT.

'If you don't have a good set up you are not going to have an aggressive catch. You are not going to have a good stroke as you will cut it short, you won't have good rotation or good leg drive. Everything follows on from a good set up. 

You have to set up every single stroke.  Your bottom hand should be extended infront of your eye line sighting the horizon at full extension, the top hand should also be at eye level. At that point there should be a split second pause before moving to the catch position.  It is that pause that allows you to recover in between each stroke.

Even when National Champions and Olympians are sprinting flat out they still maintain a slight pause.  It is a good idea, when training, to include drills that emphasise a pause so that you get used to it and use it automatically when paddling.  Once such drill is the 5, 3, 1 drill where you take 5 strokes then add a pause with a set up, then three strokes before a second pause and set up and finally one stroke then a pause.

A common fault, common is surf ski paddlers, is to go straight into the next stroke causing a cyclical stroke without any pause and without full extension.  This reduces the power and effectiveness of the stroke.  Having the stroke set up where you include a pause, then plant the paddle and then unleash the power and connect the legs is absolutely vital for every stroke. Set up each stroke and everything else will follow'. Chris Barlow



The San Diego Canoe and Kayak Team serves the San Diego community by introducing the sport of canoeing and kayaking to local youth and their families. The team teaches skills necessary to be successful in the sport: balance, technique, sport physiology, sport psychology, and sportsmanship. The team competes in monthly regional races around Mission Bay but also participates in the yearly National Championships.
Watching the strength of this community is impressive.