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Why do really good paddlers seem like they use less energy but go faster? Because they can sequence their coordinated movements into a efficient continually flowing series of executed moves. For every movement you have a set of muscles that enable you to make that movement, but you also have a set of muscles to do the opposite. Quite simply, a set to push and a set to pull. Which means if you don’t coordinate the firing of those muscles you could potentially be pushing and pulling at the same time, which means you’re fighting yourself (not efficient).

Perhaps that is overly simplistic. However, I’m hoping that you see even though you may have good technique, until you learn to sequence the firing of your muscles in order to execute that technique with maximum efficiency you are fighting against yourself to some degree. Of course learning a new movement requires experimentation, which means a series of trials and errors until you find the correct coordination.

When I teach people a new technique, I try to keep the tasks to a minimum so that they can attack a new movement without being overwhelmed. The fewer movements between each part of the stroke, the more efficient. One of the most important tips that I give when teaching a new stroke is to use very little power. Before you can apply any power you need to truly learn the movement. Once you feel some mastery of the technique, then you need to work on the efficiency. In other words, start with your body and muscles completely relaxed. Move into your stroke slowly trying to call upon only those muscles that are necessary to execute that move. Any extra muscles that fire in that process can be considered counter-productive. Once your movements become relaxed and flow from one part to the next with rhythm and coordination, then you can start to apply small increments of increased power. Keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily have to feel like a lot of effort to be fast.

Think of it like a symphony. Every instrument by itself really only makes noise, but when all of those noises are coordinated and sequenced in order, they can create a magical experience of sound that can have a profound effect on all that hear it. I’m sure everyone has said or heard someone say ” that guy makes it look so easy”. Well that’s because he has mastered every movement to a point of making it look easy and for him it probably is. Have fun.