Uncompromised core body position is the key to PaddleCore's core body stroke. One of the most difficult stroke aspects to develop and perfect for dragonboat coaches is a deliberate recovery phase. Regardless of the team's experience level, developing this part of the stroke is tricky because in order for athletes to execute the initial stages properly, they have to 'low down' and be deliberate about their body movements while the paddle is in the air. Instinctively, athletes will try to race through this phase of the stroke so they can get the blade back into heavy water where they can re-establish traction. Unfortunately when this happens the core usually gets left behind and the stroke loses its primary, and most effective source of power. A slow and deliberate recovery helps ensure athletes achieve correct core body position and set-up in preparation for the catch connection phase of the next stroke. Athletes need to take the time to establish an effective "A" frame starting with their lower core body position.
'Gates', or check-points, encourage proper body position during the recovery phase. For example, if each number below represents a segment of the stroke cycle, athletes must stop after performing each segment and ensure their body position is correct. (The more control and awareness of your body position during the stroke phase, the more athletes will be able to contribute.)
The "Gates" drill can be done in four or five phases. This example below is four phases.
The Body Stroke
Starting in A-Frame position the first gate establishes core body connection/traction as paddle enters water followed by core body de-rotation and acceleration through the second half of the water phase.
Starting with bottom arm in "suitcase" position, initiate horizontal and upward motion across body using top arm and core (first third of recovery phase).
Continue recovery phase up and across body through horizontal plane (second third of recovery phase).
Final part of recovery phase when horizontal plane transitions into vertical plane 'stacking', resulting in "A" frame catch position (final third of recovery phase).
Although varying dragonboat designs and weights, seating position, and technique and experience, contribute to different paddle sizing demands, PaddleCore has developed the industry standard Rule of Thumb for determining the right size for each paddler.
Paddles range between 43 to 51 inches, and while there are many factors that contribute to appropriate sizing, the safest and fastest way to select a paddle is outlined below.
First, it is important to recognize that paddle size is primarily based on torso and arm length, not height.
Chrissy's paddle is slightly long since she has to stretch her fingers to curl over the paddle handle
To measure your paddle, follow these steps...
Comfortably sit on a solid bench or chair (similar to a dragonboat seat);
Place the blade tip of the paddle beside your inside hip on the bench (left hip for right-sided paddlers and vice versa) ;
With top arm paddling position (slight elbow bend), reach to the handle of the paddle and comfortably curl your palm around the handle, similar to how you would hold the handle in the catch position.
Going through this exercise will identify the right paddle for you under perfect conditions - where the top of the bench is flush with the water level. However, perfect conditions are not always possible, which is why paddlers must also consider external factors that impact size selection...
Boat Design and Weight
Some boats sit higher in the water and call for longer paddles, and some sit lower.
Depending on where the paddler is sitting the water level may be higher or lower, calling for different lengths (i.e. near the back of the boat paddlers are closer to the water.
Technique and Experience
Varying techniques can require different sized paddles and paddlers with high levels of experience sometimes increase (or shorten) their paddle for personal reasons.
Whatever the factors are for your crew, consistency is the key and all paddlers in the same crew should use the same Rule of Thumb; and we encourage you to adopt PaddleCore's Paddle Sizing Rule of Thumb!