Paddling as a parent.

By Jim on Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Tips for the paddling parent,plus tips to help you paddle.


Paddling is defiantly a fun sport that offers so much, it's fun and a great way to exercise.

I have enjoyed paddling for a long time now and loved it so much. I was very lucky, but also deserving, to paddle at the highest level in both flat water Kayaking and ocean/surfki paddling. I was able to travel the world to some of the most beautiful places on earth to paddle. Throughout my journey I met so many interesting people from countries as far as Russia and as close as New Zealand, all with different reasons why they paddle.

To paddle at the highest level requires a lot of training and dedication. The hardest thing I feel for the modern day paddler, is the lack of being able to cope with the amount of training and sacrifice that is needed to reach the top.

I was lucky to have come through an era with the likes of Clint Robinson, Daniel Collins and Martin Hunter. People who dedicated their whole life to paddling. They were all single minded and selfish in so many ways and that is what made them such great paddlers and champions.  These athletes had so much dedication to their chosen sport and it has rubbed off on me. By watching their methods and the way they training, helped me work out what was best for my training. I learnt very early that I needed to train lots and lots and that is what I did.

Two years out from the Olympic games my training was up to 4 training sessions a day, running, swimming, gym and lots of paddling. It was so hard but I loved every minute of it. Chasing a goal is still my favourite thing to do.

I had to forgo many things, parties and socialising, which after time can become very lonely. But I was determined to chase my goal, that was getting very close. NOTHING was going to stop me.

I had to live with the WHAT IF’S, what if I trained hard, what if I didn't go drinking, what if I didn't go partying. In the end I just didn't want to live by that. So I trained very hard.

It all paid off in the end and I was rewarded for my efforts.


Now time has past and I'm so glad that I didn't get left with a WHAT IF.


I'm now a parent like so many of our paddlers who have joined our sport. I would like to start off by giving some tips that I use to best suit family life. I have that thing in the back of my head that tells me that I must not forget how quick kids grow up, so I spend as much time with them as possible. I also believe that you are still a good parent if you have an outside sport/activity. You need to be able to do something for yourself that gives you some sense of belonging, I believe that way you are a better parent.

We are all busy, I have a family business I run, Mykayakcoach website, coaching lessons, selling Think Oceanskis, president of Nth Bondi Nippers with nearly 1000 kids and I am a parent to 3 kids and a wife, so like you, we are all busy.


Here are some tips to being able to get ready for your paddling.


Mark the calendar for days that are for races you are attending. You need to pick at least 3 races a year so you can have a goal and enjoy your training more, if you don't do any racing you will just paddle round in circles and have a life span in paddling of about 2 years. By marking the calendar early the family is prepared for the races and it doesn't cause any arguments.


Find a group of people who match your ability and time frame that you have to work in to get your paddling done. I find that early morning paddle training is best as a parent as kids are asleep, so it is not interfering with family life there.


Fitness is something that will help your paddling, so if you have to go to a sporting event on the weekend, try jogging there. Most of the time the kids have to be there 30mins before the game. Most people live within a 6-7km radius of where there kids play sport. So if you help get them ready with breakfast and sports clothes, this will allow you to leave about 15mins before the car has to drive off, this gives you up to 45mins fitness work at no impact to family life.


Also a good idea to con your partner into going away for a weekend with a friend to a holiday house with the kids, that way you can get in a long paddle or a good downwinder that you never really had time for.  A win win as you let them have a holiday and you get a great paddle in.



Tips to help you get the most out of your paddling with no effort.


My boat.

I always look at my craft and think how can I improve it from it's manufactures standard. I paddle a Think UNO max ( love it,so comfortable and fast). I like to have good grip on my pedals so I can steer onto runners easier. It's important when you are surfing runners that you react very quickly to get the most out of the swell, you need to surf across the swells to get the most out of them. So this is why I have grippy pedals. I use a wet and dry sand paper and rub them to give them grip.

I also like my gear to always be in good shape so a put some tape where my blade enters the water so if I bang the side it doesn't damage the boat. I like to turn up to races with a boat that looks brand new, makes me feel like I have the edge on the others with older damaged looking boats.


I also like to have the right boat for me, one that is comfortable and as fast as it can be for my ability. My choice is the Think UNO Max. Why? Because I can sit in it with the maximum amount of comfort allowing me to be the best I can be when I paddle it. I hate the feeling of ‘I'm going to fall out’ when I paddle. If a boat is too tippy you will never improve. Choose carefully and get the right advice on what boat is best for you. If you have been paddling 1-2 years your boat choice will be a lot different to someone who has been paddling competitive for years. One of the most important choices you can make when getting into paddling.


The paddle.

My paddle is something that I take lots of interest in, never is the blade old and damaged, never is it too big in size, never is it too long or to short. A guide for men in the surf 210-212cm ocean ski, women 207-209cm ocean ski. Kayak men 216-220cm, body size will make your decision and women kayak 214-216cm. A paddle is very important so make sure you get the right advice.

Next and the most important thing is to have tape on your paddle, this will keep your hands in the same position each side. If they are different both sides not only will you not go fast you will end up with an injury.

Next thing with my paddle, I like for it to be grippy as well, so I use wet and dry sand paper lightly in the areas where my hands go. Then throughout the week I use grey miners soap to get grip, by using soap it will get rid of that slimy feeling you get on the paddle shaft. So soap your hands then wash it off then your paddle will be grippy. I hate wax on my paddle.




Clothing on the water.


The biggest thing I see people do when wearing clothes on the water is they think about what the weather will be like at the last 10 mins of their paddle. Meaning they wear the bear minimum at the start when it's coldest, they don't want to be too hot at the end but it's OK to be too cold throughout the bulk of the session. The thing you can do in training is take clothes off during the session. I always wear warm clothes when paddling, the reason for this is I like my muscles to be warm and loose. When they are cold they are tight and easy for injury. So think about what you wear.



I use supplements to help with recovery, although I don't train as hard and as many times as I did when I competed full time, I still have as many things that tire me out, family, work and the pressures of being an adult with adult things to think about tire you out. I use products from Australian Sports Nutrition as they have a very good understanding of what it takes to help me recover from my training and day to day life. Also they are a great company who look after paddlers.



These are just a few ideas that can help you get a bit more out of your paddling from a parenting prospective and person who loves paddling like you.


If you are looking for products to use try the products I use to see if they can help you as well.


Think Ocean Skis

Australian Sports Nutrition.


If you need any help with any part of your paddling needs please contact me.

No matter where is the world, one on one or a small or large group.

A team of friends or a team from a surf club I can help.