How to set up your surfski
Ski set up is the fundamental component to good comfortable paddling technique and positive training. I thought it would be easier to explain in writing for this one rather than video. So here goes:
Firstly getting the right leg length. Push your bottom right back into the seat then place a fist under your knees – this position is your neutral sitting position. Make sure your footplate is firm against your feet while keeping that fist distance under your knee. This means you should not be able to completely straighten your legs out but they shouldn’t feel too cramped up under your chin that you can’t move.
This position allows you to engage your legs during your paddle stroke. Having your legs too long means they will be floppy, you will have little balance and you won’t be able to use your legs when you paddle. If your legs are too short and cramped up under your chin, your center of gravity will be too small and you will also be in a position where you can’t use your legs paddling and you shut down being able to use your core.
Ok so legs are good, now, keeping you bottom pushed into the back of your seat, I want you to sit up nice and tall, chin should be up and eyes towards the horizon. Shoulders are back and down and chest is out. Now add a slight lean forward just about 5 degrees so chest is still open, shoulders are back and down and chin is up. This is over emphasizing everything to start with so it will feel a little bit uncomfortable and a little silly but the more we over emphasize the sooner you will fall into good paddling habits and the sooner they will feel comfortable. Now with you shoulders back and down imagine there is a string attached to each bottom point of your shoulder blades and someone is pulling that string down towards the middle of your bottom so your shoulders pinch together a little, your chest is opened up and your shoulders are down. That great posture our mums tried drilling into use. No slouching!!
Now this is also a perfect exercise you can practice wherever you are, at work, walking, watching TV, eating dinner. Initially your back will feel like its working over time but as we introduce the strength and conditioning components, that workload should start to ease off as you learn to engage your other muscle groups.