SimonMW wrote:The problem is though that there is no set definition of a wide or narrow grip.
There will only ever be start points for tuning in grip width, there can can never be set dimensions because of the many factors that are involved:
- Ergonomics/biometrics, no 2 humans are the same (even twins) some have narrow sholders, some broad shoulders, some have long arms and some have short arms, even the proportions of the arms maybe different, how much is above and below the elbow. Different people have different measurements from their bottom (when seated) to their shoulders, or to wherever the pivot point in the torso is.
- Boats are different; the heights of seats and decks varies as does the width in the cockpit area which defines the paddle path.
- Paddles are different; some have smaller or larger blades, longer or shorter blades, symmetric or asymmetric and of course the shafts are different in length, and if cranked there are at least 3 different crank geometries out there, some of which enable the crank to be closer to the blade than others.
- Then you have to add everything up - I haven't yet mentioned the waterline of the boat, depending on the weight of the paddler the boat will float at a different waterline which will change the dimensions relating to how easy or difficult it is for the paddler to reach the water - now 2 people the same height may be quite different in weight with different proportions for their arms and back so the optimal length of paddle and position for their hands is likely to be different.
In reality we don't consciously change our paddles or grip when swapping boats of the same type - say if I change between my Session+ and my Glide, or between my Topo and my Burn, in fact I use the same paddles in all of the above and probably maintain the same grip. I do use a longer paddle in my Sea King and I use the same paddle in my Taran, but I am pretty sure my grip doesn't change, although since almost all of my paddles are cranked these days I have relatively little choice in grip width - the grip length is about 2 fists wide, which as you say is enough to make a difference, but really for perfectly neutral handling I want my fist in a certain position along that grip..... but maybe I don't prefer neutral handling, maybe I want to feel a slight positive, or negative, castor effect from a cranked paddle?
The bottom line is that unless we are performing at top level and able to interpret the effect of these changes, it is perfectly adequate to get a rough guide when you frst pick up a paddle and then find your own preference through practice. At various points in the learning curve you will be encouraged to try things with an extended paddle position - you will never use that on whitewater but the information about the effect it had on the stroke will get stored in your subconscious and will be used for fine tuning in the future when you are struggling due to inappropriate grip width....