Narrow paddle grip

Inland paddling
dpround
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by dpround »

SimonMW wrote:What do people consider to be a narrow grip?
The standard grip is an elbow span and I would say a narrow grip is no more than two hand-breadths narrower than this.

Pure beginners tend to start far narrower than is ideal, down to their hands only inches apart! The elbow span apart (paddle over head, elbows at 90 degrees) is a handy gauge to get things to a reasonable baseline IMHO.

David

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geyrfugl
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by geyrfugl »

I do hate these ambiguous dimensions. When I started skiing I was told that I should aim to have my skis "hip width" apart. To me that meant having the inside edges of the skis a distance apart roughly equal to the width of my hips to the outside of the skin surface about 45-50 cm. I'm no longer a beginner, but I still ski with my feet wider apart than many very good skiers, even though its probably now more like 20 cm. I think what the instructors meant by "hip width" was very different from what I understood by it - maybe the centre lines of my skis were meant to be about the distance apart that the leg bones entered the pelvis ?

I suspect that if coaches are advising beginners with terms like "shoulder width", there must be a similar scope for misunderstanding... though the description of holding your arms with a right angle at the elbows probably narrows it down better. When people say their hands are 85 cm (for example) apart - are you measuring to the inside (facing) skin surface of the thumbs, or a centre-line of each hand ?

I learnt mostly self-taught and did a lot of sea kayaking as well as river paddling early in my career and ended up with a paddle grip rather at the narrow end of the accepted range. I was told when I went to the alps that for better survival (stability) I would be better off with a wider grip. I found it impossible to change my style with a straight paddle, as every time I concentrated on the river, my hands would creep back towards each other. So I bought a crank paddle. The grip was now really much further apart than I was happy with - forever banging my thumbs on the side of the boat. But I don capsize as often, so maybe there was some contribution to that improvement - who can analyse what changes were the effective ones ? Maybe I just read water better ;-)

Buying paddles, one can specify length and feather, and choose between different blades. But no manufacturer seems to offer a choice of grip width in their cranked paddles, which seems a shame as it means it's hard to try different grip widths in a cranked shaft. I see a lot of photos where paddlers are holding their cranked paddles with a narrow enough grip that the angle of the crank is really not doing what it is designed for...

Andy

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David Fairweather
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by David Fairweather »

geyrfugl wrote:I suspect that if coaches are advising beginners with terms like "shoulder width", there must be a similar scope for misunderstanding... though the description of holding your arms with a right angle at the elbows probably narrows it down better. When people say their hands are 85 cm (for example) apart - are you measuring to the inside (facing) skin surface of the thumbs, or a centre-line of each hand ?
A fair point, but I can't imagine that many coaches are giving people specific advice on how to hold a paddle until having seen them paddle. Therefore, suggestions would be relative to how they are already holding it (a bit closer, try 10cm further apart, etc...)
geyrfugl wrote:Buying paddles, one can specify length and feather, and choose between different blades. But no manufacturer seems to offer a choice of grip width in their cranked paddles, which seems a shame as it means it's hard to try different grip widths in a cranked shaft. I see a lot of photos where paddlers are holding their cranked paddles with a narrow enough grip that the angle of the crank is really not doing what it is designed for...
There are plenty of manufacturers who give a good custom service for cranked paddles, Select Paddles certainly do (http://www.fire-it-up.co.uk/#!select-paddles/c183m and I think Streamlyte can adjust the position of cranks for you as well. In fact, I would imagine that most of the UK manufacturers can; VE, Nomad etc...

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Randy Fandango
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by Randy Fandango »

dpround wrote: The standard grip is an elbow span
Presuming you mean hands as far apart as the 'mid' point of your elbows I have to say I thought this sort of thinking had gone out way back along with that other old chestnut that the right length paddle is one that just fits under the crook of your fingers when standing flat-footed with one arm stretched above your head.
Both may well have been true when we were all paddling 14' boats but that is largely no longer the case.
I've just experimented with the paddles I mostly use (197 Robson Chilis) and if I had my hands that far apart I'd only be an inch or so away from touching the blades at each end.
I'm only (not quite) 5' 10" although I do have a fairly long span (about 6' 4" finger tip to finger tip).
Giles

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buck197
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by buck197 »

Mark Dixon wrote:I dont buy into paddling or grips should be a specific way, or exact torso rotation, I see all sorts of paddlers using allsorts of grips and feathered paddles styling the river, even up to Professional standard like Ben Marr and the Slalom paddler.
I am a roofer and use a hammer all day, I use a combination of wrist and elbow actions different to my mate, yet he is everybit as good as me and we both hit the nail on the head.
I see it as whats the most comfortable and efficient paddling method per individual as their way forward without the need of spending loads of money to be coached into something uncomfortable which does exactly the same thing.
Mark
As an observation of the above and as a low level coach, Mark when you have a new guy or apprentice working with you on a roof I'm sure you will offer advice or instruct him on how he can do things better. As a race we can work out how to do things relatively ok but there is usually better ways to do these things. If someone showed you a better way to hammer nails in but used 50% less effort then surely that is worthwhile.

On the river we can learn how to do stuff that gets us down the river but is this always the best way and most efficient. If you are on a river and can't make a micro eddy and someone styles it easily, wouldn't you be inclined to say " hey mate how did you do that"? If he offered you advice or corrected your approach and then you nailed it, that's coaching. I have used most of the the SW coaches over the years and still paddle averagely but one thing for certain is they have improved me and given me skills or polished these skills. Are they expensive, probably no more than employing a roofer like yourself who needs to make a living. I have not seen many of the SW coaches turn up at New Bridge in Rolls Royce's?

I can't think of many sports where some coaching is not a way of improving your skills, go on put your hand in your pocket and give it a try and you may then be better equipped for Italy and France next year Better skills will use less effort and so you remain fresher for longer on the river.

As a coach said to me Practise does not make perfect, practise makes permanent.
Brian Taylor
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JohnK
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by JohnK »

No where on this thread has anyone suggested what a narrow (or any sort of) grip is. Well apart from davebrads normal 80cm. And the likes of Shoulder Width and Elbow Span sound a bit rough and ready although may be quite suitable for someone's first time on the water.

Neither has there been mention of paddle length. When I was in the market for my last slalom paddles I was advised amongst other things of your hands (middle fingers) making one thirds. Subsequently checking that with my 5 types of paddles ranging in length from 190cm to 220cm (with 197, 202 and 210 in between) it ran true. Anything different just felt wrong. So, what might appear to be narrow paddle grip might just be on a short paddle. Conversely a wide paddle grip on a long paddle.

Dave that 80cm would need a paddle length of 240.

SimonMW
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by SimonMW »

Yes, this is something I was getting at in my earlier post. When does a normal grip become narrow? There will be a "sweet spot" I would imagine where things are at their most efficient, but there will be variation within that sweet area. I have found that even a fists width change of distance on each side can make a dramatic difference to the reach and hence the length if the stroke.

Conversely I have found that too wide a grip can mean less verticality due to the hands hitting the side of the boat more easily. The problem is though that there is no set definition of a wide or narrow grip.

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Jim
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by Jim »

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....

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geyrfugl
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by geyrfugl »

There are plenty of manufacturers who give a good custom service for cranked paddles, Select Paddles certainly do
Yeah, I like their shafts, and they do excellent two-part splits in cranks, which people like Werner seem incapable of either doing or seeing the need for (except in sea paddles). But I've had four Select blades break (and one Werner crank shaft, to be fair), and a friend who has had one go in exactly the same place, so that is kind of less useful...

I'm 1.7m tall, using 197 cm paddles, BTW. A *long* time ago, I started with straight shaft 205s (at about 75 or 80° feather, I suppose) and a much narrower grip than the cranks oblige me to use. Somewhere in between would be nice... I think my sea paddles (all but one now 45°) are 215 to 220, but they are all straight shafts (well, one of the home-built ones has a slight bend;-)

Andy

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nick 16
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Re: Narrow paddle grip

Post by nick 16 »

I paddle with 2m straights and generally hold the paddles with my hands around 30cms from the blades but I do tend to move my hands quite close to the blades when surfing as I feel it gives more control when ruddering and carving on the wave. I used to paddle with 2m cranks but generally found the hand position uncomfortable to paddle with so dropped down to 15 degree feather on straights so i could hold it where i wanted while having less wrist strain. I generally like the feel of cranks but find them too wide in 2m paddles I pick up 194s and think thety are spot on for width. I did have a set of 194 with 3 cm extra length on each end tomake them up to 200 but i generally prefer my straights now. I feel like I get tonnes more power, leverage and reach and I feel like I still use a good amount of trunk rotation, though you do feel it more in your arms you get gradually stronger and deal with that issue anyway. But I say sod cranks unlees they are an absolute must and go straights as they are more versatile and generally cheaper.
Nicholas Ball

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