First thing you coach on WW

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Simon Westgarth
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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Simon Westgarth » Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:06 am

1, point the boat where you wish to go.
2, turn your head to initiate any change in direction
3, learn tactics before technique

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by MikeVeal » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:39 am

I'm running a Scout trip for first time WW paddlers this weekend. Before they get in the boats, they will be told (in order):

Avoid trees, trees will kill you.
If you capsize, adopt passive WW swimming position.
Avoid trees, trees will kill you.
If in doubt, paddle harder.
Avoid trees, trees will kill you.
This is what an eddy looks like, and this is the signal I'll use if I want you to go to it.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by SimonMW » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:44 am

I'm surprised at the negative connotations the low brace has, many modern coaches are pushing the 'active blade' concept and the low brace can be another form of this if used positively and in the right context.
Davebrads covered most of the issues that I also have with what your thinking. What I would add is this. While you might feel that the low brace offers the things that you wrote about, I disagree that they do, but I would contest by saying that there are much better methods that achieve the results you describe.

As Dave points out, by teaching the low brace so early you are reinforcing something that is extremely hard to train out of people later on. Relying on the low brace will only hold back their long term skills.

It is interesting that Simon Westgarth suggests tactics before technique. Because often if you stress the strategic aspects of what you need to achieve to get from a to b on a rapid, you do often get a much more positive result.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Nov 29, 2016 10:49 am

davebrads wrote:I'm not totally against the low brace, it has its place - surfing for instance - and I use it myself often enough as a rescue/turning stroke, but as mentioned above mostly because I've made a mistake.
And we shouldn't downplay the significance and potential frequency of making mistakes. :-)

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Franky » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:06 am

Tactics before technique? So would you say "Get from this side of the river to the other side without being washed downstream" without any explanation of edging or the need to point upstream?

Or is the assumption that these aspects of technique are so obvious they shouldn't need to be taught at all? I am not dim, but they weren't obvious to me.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Nov 29, 2016 1:20 pm

Ferry gliding does not necessarily require edging.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Franky » Tue Nov 29, 2016 2:12 pm

Adrian Cooper wrote:Ferry gliding does not necessarily require edging.
Perhaps not, in the same way that kayaking does not necessarily require a paddle.

I've never tried ferry gliding, or any manoeuvre on moving water, without some amount of edging, however small. I don't believe that there are experienced paddlers who don't edge most of the time, probably without noticing it.

Still, if it's true that technique doesn't need to be taught and "Do whatever it takes to get from A to B" is the only advice you need, there are a lot of coaches being paid for an unnecessary service.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Jim » Tue Nov 29, 2016 2:49 pm

First thing to teach on moving water is:

Smile!

Let the students know they are most likely going to fall in at some point in the session and that it is nothing to worry about, all part of the fun. Get them to embrace enjoying whatever happens.
Obviously I wouldn't advocate taking a student on their first moving water session in February when you have to break the ice in the eddies to launch, really any time between November and April is probably unsuitable, best get them to come along in the summer, the good rivers won't be running but many perfectly good coaching spots will be just fine and pleasant enough to swim.

I don't actually coach anymore, I have done all that technical explanation stuff first in the past though and it often just confuses people, these days I would probably just let them loose trying to paddle up, across and down a simple jet for a few minutes and see how they get on, rescue those that need it and then get them to tell me what they have worked out or what they found difficult, and then offer solutions to try.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by davebrads » Tue Nov 29, 2016 3:34 pm

Franky wrote:
Adrian Cooper wrote:Ferry gliding does not necessarily require edging.
Perhaps not, in the same way that kayaking does not necessarily require a paddle.
Adrian is right though. The only time you really need to edge is during the transition between the eddy and flow, and on grade 2 the transition is weak enough to get away without edging. The reason new paddlers capsize breaking into the flow is that they end up leaning upstream as a result of the boat heading off downstream while the paddler is still heading upstream! Nothing to do with edging.

Many paddlers over-edge the boat, and this slows the boat and makes it harder to control, much better to keep the boat flat on the surface of the water. After all, once the boat is completely in the flow you can treat it as a moving piece of flat water. It's sorting little things like this out that earns the coach his money!

It's worth taking notice of the postings in this thread, a good number of the contributions have come from paddlers that have been around the sport for a long time, they might just have learnt a bit along the way. In fact I think it is quite enlightening that there is so much common thought.
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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by DaveBland » Tue Nov 29, 2016 4:50 pm

Franky wrote:Tactics before technique? So would you say "Get from this side of the river to the other side without being washed downstream" without any explanation of edging or the need to point upstream?
Yes, tactics first. Surely you need to know what you are ultimately trying to do before learning how to get there.

The object of the exercise is to descend down the river moving safely from eddy to eddy.
How do I do that?
Paddle like this leaning like this etc...
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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Franky » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:25 pm

davebrads wrote:
Franky wrote:
Adrian Cooper wrote:Ferry gliding does not necessarily require edging.
Perhaps not, in the same way that kayaking does not necessarily require a paddle.
Adrian is right though. The only time you really need to edge is during the transition between the eddy and flow, and on grade 2 the transition is weak enough to get away without edging. The reason new paddlers capsize breaking into the flow is that they end up leaning upstream as a result of the boat heading off downstream while the paddler is still heading upstream! Nothing to do with edging.
But it is to do with edging. How do you counteract "the boat heading off downstream while the paddler is still heading upstream", except by lifting your knee slightly and leaning downstream slightly?

While doing this, you may be physically vertical, and not appear to be leaning, but you *are* lifting your upstream knee slightly, and leaning your body downstream slightly, to offset the water's attempt to pull the boat from under you.

This was the first thing about WW paddling that I was taught, and everything else has followed on from that - i.e. to feel, or anticipate, when water wants to roll you over, and to lift your knee to the oncoming water to counteract this.

I will try not lifting a knee next time I ferry glide. I can't imagine I won't have to do something else (e.g. paddle harder on the upstream side) to offset the effect of the oncoming water, but I'm willing to be proved wrong.

--- Added later:--- I've just looked at photos of several paddlers breaking out on the Lower Tryweryn, below the NRA Bridge. Every one of them - and they're all more experienced than me - is lifting an edge upstream as they make the turn into the flow.
Many paddlers over-edge the boat, and this slows the boat and makes it harder to control, much better to keep the boat flat on the surface of the water. After all, once the boat is completely in the flow you can treat it as a moving piece of flat water. It's sorting little things like this out that earns the coach his money!
I know that, thanks.

In case it wasn't clear, I have been talking about situations in which the paddler wants to, or has to, move more slowly than the flow of the water - I am not talking about tanking down a grade 4 river.
It's worth taking notice of the postings in this thread, a good number of the contributions have come from paddlers that have been around the sport for a long time, they might just have learnt a bit along the way. In fact I think it is quite enlightening that there is so much common thought.
I'm not the only one who has said edging is one of the first things to learn, so your view may be common but it's not universal.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Alec » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:11 pm

But it is to do with edging. How do you counteract "the boat heading off downstream while the paddler is still heading upstream", except by lifting your knee slightly and leaning downstream slightly?
By correcting /changing your SPANGLE
In case it wasn't clear, I have been talking about situations in which the paddler wants to, or has to, move more slowly than the flow of the water - I am not talking about tanking down a grade 4 river.
But the techniques you use on grade 2 should be the same as those techniques on grade 4. Ferry gliding, breaking in and out should be more or less the same. for first trips on moving water /grade 2 teach without edging. As power increases add in the edging. If you're teaching people to move slower than the flow then at some point they're going to end up going at the same speed as the flow which is when they lose control.
Whenever I have observed the low brace being taught the students are asked to rock the boat to one side and use the low brace to recover, but what actually is happening is they are simply rocking the boat to the side, and the boat would rock back even if they did nothing with their paddle!
You're lucky they weren't being taught to slap the water and make a big slappy /crack /bang noise!!

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Franky » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:36 pm

Alec wrote:
But it is to do with edging. How do you counteract "the boat heading off downstream while the paddler is still heading upstream", except by lifting your knee slightly and leaning downstream slightly?
By correcting /changing your SPANGLE
That appears to mean "speed/angle/*edge*".

I don't recall seeing anyone break out into a grade 3+ flow without edging. That's not to say they're aware they're doing it.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by DaveBland » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:59 pm

Of course there's some edging when breaking in. Always.
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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by SimonMW » Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:01 pm

Adrian, you heathen you! How dare you suggest such witchcraft!

Franky, what is being described here is not really something that can be summed up in a basic text discussion. I can only say that a day with Simon will probably transform your thinking. The first time I went on a course with him was like doing Uni in a day! And this tactics and methods have stuck with me ever since. Why? Because they work and he can back up precisely in every detail why they work. Don't worry though, he does just as much on the technique.

Key thing here is that often used corporate weasel word "paradigm". Or dogma. There's a lot of it in kayaking, and debunking a lot of it takes a lot more effort than it should.
I don't recall seeing anyone break out into a grade 3+ flow without edging. That's not to say they're aware they're doing it.
I am a serial capsizer, but would happily show you this, as well as arriving into an eddy from such a flow totally flat, too. Edging is what you use to achieve an aim. But edging in itself isn't an aim.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Jim » Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:56 am

Interestingly, since I started doing slalom I have had to drastically reduce the amount of edge I use when breaking out, it really kills the boat speed and at my weight I have little enough to start with and it is hard to get it back up. Watch any competent slalom paddler crossing eddylines and you will see they do keep the boat very flat across the eddy line, just try not to watch what happens afterwards or you head may explode :)
(slight edge in what is conventionally considered the wrong way, to grip the eddy flow and get a free ride up through an upstream gate...)

It all depends on your aim. If your aim is to get in and out of the eddy as quickly as possible (which can happen in river running for a number of possible reasons), keep the boat flat, if you want to punch deep into the eddy before turning, keep the boat flat, if you want to turn and stop sharply after crossing the eddyline edge, but be aware that edging too much can cause you stop on the eddline and even can get you bounced back out into the flow.

Get out there and experiment, try not to stick rigidly to guidelines like edging at eddylines, have a go and find out how the results can vary depending on how much edge you use and at what point in the maneouvre you drop it.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by DaveBland » Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:06 am

**late night drunk alert**

... But Bollocks. Eddying out and breaking in flat just don't happen. As Jim says, 'wrong way' edge is often a choice and yeah sure, flat does happen, but stopped clocks are right twice a day.
Paddling is all about the edge. Even in minute amounts.
The only tjmd you are truly flag is probably when surfing and ahead of the wavd waiting for thd lift to kick back in. Paddles up, enjoyinv thd stall.
Yeah that's fun.
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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Ian Dallaway » Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:41 am

Simon Westgarth wrote:1, point the boat where you wish to go.
2, turn your head to initiate any change in direction
3, learn tactics before technique

Totally agree. It covers everything you need for the first sessions on moving water.
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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Franky » Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:10 am

Maybe I should be totally clear. By "edging" I mean "lifting a knee", however slightly. The boat may stay flat because you are merely counteracting the water's attempt to roll you over. But the technique you are using is called edging and it's the same whether the boat leans or not.

If you don't use your legs then you are relying entirely on your arms to keep yourself balanced. This "technique" is the opposite of everything I have ever been taught, by peers, by coaches, in books, and till now, by everything I've read by experienced paddlers on this forum!

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by jsymonds » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:00 am

DaveBland wrote:**late night drunk alert**

... But Bollocks. Eddying out and breaking in flat just don't happen. As Jim says, 'wrong way' edge is often a choice and yeah sure, flat does happen, but stopped clocks are right twice a day.
Paddling is all about the edge. Even in minute amounts.
The only tjmd you are truly flag is probably when surfing and ahead of the wavd waiting for thd lift to kick back in. Paddles up, enjoyinv thd stall.
Yeah that's fun.
Maybe edge is only needed when the boat is turning?

I would like to know the reason why no edge is being proposed now (especially as edge/tilt was covered on the Gene17 instruction videos), what has changed?

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Ian Dallaway » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:44 am

maybe when you turn your head (and shoulders) to the new direction of travel, an edge is initiated anyway......
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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by twopigs » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:15 am

Franky wrote:Maybe I should be totally clear. By "edging" I mean "lifting a knee", however slightly. The boat may stay flat because you are merely counteracting the water's attempt to roll you over. But the technique you are using is called edging and it's the same whether the boat leans or not.

If you don't use your legs then you are relying entirely on your arms to keep yourself balanced. This "technique" is the opposite of everything I have ever been taught, by peers, by coaches, in books, and till now, by everything I've read by experienced paddlers on this forum!
Speaking for myself - I never try to teach edging in terms of "lifting a knee". I've watched too many beginners try to link a knee lift with the way they want to go - Is it lift the right knee to turn right? Or the left knee? Getting them to look where they are going - not just with their eyes, but with their head, their shoulders and the eyes sewn onto their BA straps (yup - both eyes....) seems to force the upstream knee to lift when they look downstream. It has been described as "Transformational" but then the paddler had just done a management speak course.
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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Adrian Cooper » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:56 am

The reason for my comment about edging and ferry gliding is simple (apart from just being provocative) :-) . Assume you are paddling from St David’s to Ramsay Island. We all know the current is quite strong here but once you are off the beach, whilst you may not be pointing directly at your destination (you will be ferry gliding), you will not be edging since it is not necessary. Dave kindly concurred. The edge is needed when moving across different currents, from eddies into flows and the vice versa.

As to keeping the boat flat when eddying out, Jim has mentioned this but the most important point is your weight shift, not your boat angle. Leaning into the turn, just as you do when cycling, is necessary to stop you falling over to the outside of the turn. If you want to keep your boat flat, then you need to be prepared to counter any other forces from the water. Take your squirt turn, whilst you edge into the flow, you still keep your weight to the inside of the turn. For most people, the simple edging to eddy in and out makes good sense but it should be used with discretion. You want to slam into a small eddy next to the bank right after a fast jet, it is really useful.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Jim » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:58 am

Franky wrote:Maybe I should be totally clear. By "edging" I mean "lifting a knee", however slightly. The boat may stay flat because you are merely counteracting the water's attempt to roll you over. But the technique you are using is called edging and it's the same whether the boat leans or not.

If you don't use your legs then you are relying entirely on your arms to keep yourself balanced. This "technique" is the opposite of everything I have ever been taught, by peers, by coaches, in books, and till now, by everything I've read by experienced paddlers on this forum!
WTF?

Edging is dropping an edge to make the hull asymmetric, or to cause it to deflect flow at a different angle, you may drop it an almost immeasurable amount, or beyond 90 degrees but if the boat isn't heeling it isn't edging.

Using your legs (plus feet, hips and bum all together) to hold the boat flat (or at your edging angle) is control, it plays a part in edging, but it is not edging itself.

To use the 'wrong' edge on a break out, I would initially use my control to roll the boat slightly say left, and then as I feel the water start to catch it, I would tense my muscles the opposite way (i.e, similar to how I would roll the boat right from the flat) to hold* it at that angle. By your definition I am now edging right, although I have the left edge engaged...

* I won't hold it, I will vary the angle depending on the outcome I want and how things are progressing - if I just want a boost upstream keeping the bow low I will reduce the edge sooner than if I want to really sharpen the turn by dropping the stern deep and lifting the bow right out, the latter is not something I can do in a creek boat, although I once came close in a Corsica S. :)

The reasons for edging in a ferry glide are very different for the reasons for edging in a turn or break out.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Adrian Cooper » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:58 am

jsymonds wrote:I would like to know the reason why no edge is being proposed now (especially as edge/tilt was covered on the Gene17 instruction videos), what has changed?
USP

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by andypagett » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:47 pm

I'll come back when I have more time to answer the OP's question, but just to add to the discusison, I did 4 star with Bonney from Gene17 in January, and we were taught to keep the boat flat when ferrygliding (but keeping hips loose, applying enough pressure to knee to keep the upstream edge from dipping in the water, nothing more), as this countered the tendency for short boats to want to spin downstream. More edge = more surface area exposed to flow = more force spinning bow downstream.

Edit - also when breaking out, adding a load of edge carves a sharp turn on the eddy line, whereas keeping the boat flatter allows you to power across the eddy line pointing 45 degrees downstream, and into the back of the eddy. We did lots of this, and I now do this all the time, driving across the eddy line, and only edging if a need to carve a turn or if I need to turn really sharply (eg tiny eddy behind rock)

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Franky » Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:04 pm

Jim wrote: WTF?

Edging is dropping an edge to make the hull asymmetric, or to cause it to deflect flow at a different angle, you may drop it an almost immeasurable amount, or beyond 90 degrees but if the boat isn't heeling it isn't edging.
What about if you are side-surfing in a stopper? Say the oncoming water is descending at 20 degrees to the horizontal. So you are leaning at 20 degrees from the vertical. But your hull is flat against the descending stream. So by your definition - if you really think about it - you are not edging.

So if you're being really nitpicking you can distinguish between edging relative to the vertical, and edging relative to the surface of the water. I'm not sure how helpful that is to learners though.

It seems to me this is turning into an argument about semantics, when nobody fundamentally disagrees about techniques.
The reasons for edging in a ferry glide are very different for the reasons for edging in a turn or break out.
That simply isn't true and I stick by that. Ferry gliding and breaking out have different aims, but that doesn't mean the techniques are based on different principles. In both cases you're showing your arse to the oncoming water to avoid being rolled over by it. It's really straightfoward, and doesn't require all this theorising.

(I tried to understand your preceding explanation but I'm afraid I couldn't follow it.)

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by Franky » Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:10 pm

twopigs wrote: Speaking for myself - I never try to teach edging in terms of "lifting a knee". I've watched too many beginners try to link a knee lift with the way they want to go - Is it lift the right knee to turn right? Or the left knee? Getting them to look where they are going - not just with their eyes, but with their head, their shoulders and the eyes sewn onto their BA straps (yup - both eyes....) seems to force the upstream knee to lift when they look downstream. It has been described as "Transformational" but then the paddler had just done a management speak course.
It seems to me that the best way to get someone to lift their knee is to tell them to lift their knee.

Of course, you have to specify which knee you mean. If beginners aren't clear about this, perhaps they need the concepts of left/right and upstream/downstream explaining to them?

Turning your torso towards your destination is good advice, but it was a while before I had the confidence to apply it rather than concentrating on the details of my body movements. Sometimes the practical, simple instruction is the one that's best to begin with.

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by jsymonds » Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:49 pm

andypagett wrote:I'll come back when I have more time to answer the OP's question, but just to add to the discusison, I did 4 star with Bonney from Gene17 in January, and we were taught to keep the boat flat when ferrygliding (but keeping hips loose, applying enough pressure to knee to keep the upstream edge from dipping in the water, nothing more), as this countered the tendency for short boats to want to spin downstream. More edge = more surface area exposed to flow = more force spinning bow downstream.
Or you could trim back whilst edging to disengage the bow and not have to worry about catching the upstream edge at all...

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Re: First thing you coach on WW

Post by RichTyler » Wed Nov 30, 2016 2:22 pm

Franky wrote:
twopigs wrote: Speaking for myself - I never try to teach edging in terms of "lifting a knee". I've watched too many beginners try to link a knee lift with the way they want to go - Is it lift the right knee to turn right? Or the left knee? Getting them to look where they are going - not just with their eyes, but with their head, their shoulders and the eyes sewn onto their BA straps (yup - both eyes....) seems to force the upstream knee to lift when they look downstream. It has been described as "Transformational" but then the paddler had just done a management speak course.
It seems to me that the best way to get someone to lift their knee is to tell them to lift their knee.

Of course, you have to specify which knee you mean. If beginners aren't clear about this, perhaps they need the concepts of left/right and upstream/downstream explaining to them?

Turning your torso towards your destination is good advice, but it was a while before I had the confidence to apply it rather than concentrating on the details of my body movements. Sometimes the practical, simple instruction is the one that's best to begin with.
If edging comes from rotation (turning your body towards your intended destination) then how about pushing with the feet?

If you want to edge (and turn) to the left then push with your left foot, this straightens the left leg and moves your left hip back which enables better rotation towards the left whilst also pulling the opposite knee inwards (the achieves the same outcome as a knee 'lift'), you can vary the amount of foot pressure to adapt the amount of edge needed for to the specific manoeuvre you are performing.

For me pushing with the foot is the first link in the chain when looking to create a stable edge. Foot pressure leads to hip rotation which enables better body rotation (the shoulders want to follow the hips) whilst also drawing in the opposing knee which also helps create better connectivity with the boat. This approach is also an easy way to separate the upper and lower half of the body, if the lower half controls the edge then the upper half can control the trim.

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