If you paddle, you might have heard about The Paddle Dojo. A personalized stroke technique analysis lab featuring hi-tech and low-tech tools and a keen-eyed coach giving you his undivided attention. We wanted to see what all the excitement was about, and decided to send one of our Team Paddlers, Tony Fajardo there to get the full scoop. Enjoy this great recap of what you can expect should you have the chance to visit.
Also, as you read the article below, be sure to check out this great Paddler's Pulse podcast (brought to you by XTERRA Paddle Boards) where they visit and you get to be there in real time during a Paddle Dojo session!
The Paddle Dojo Experience: by Tony Fajardo
Upon arrival, Coach Red Pedrick, greets you and escorts you into his converted garage. You can't help but notice all the cool training toys and gadgets that fill this "preschool for paddlers", one of the colorful descriptions used by Coach Red. Filled with...to help you develop. Immediately to your left you'll see an Olympic squat cage with various attachments, grips and pulleys, dumbbells, medicine balls and more.
In the middle of the Dojo is the KayakPro, which looks similar to a Concept 2 rowing ergometer. The primary difference is that the KayakPro's O1M/D1M is designed to better simulate various forward-facing padding movements (outrigger, surf ski, kayak, SUP, etc.) with the correct craft-specific attachments. The seat is fixed versus sliding on track like typical rowing ergometers and the flywheel's catch is specifically designed with that in mind. This KayakPro is connected to a special software program that displays and collects a variety of metrics, such as stroke rate, stroke length, stroke count, power output (wattage), craft speed, etc. In font of the KayakPro is a huge mirror and an additional mirror off to the left set at 45 degree angle. Above the giant mirror is a large wall-mounted video display to view KayakPro metrics, review video footage, streaming Netflix and online gaming.
A significant part of the Paddle Dojo experience revolves around the observation, testing and analysis Coach Red conducts with his clients (Paddlewons for you Star Wars geeks like me) while on the KayakPro. Coach Red captures qualitative and quantitative metrics collected by the KayakPro software, sensors, several video camera angles while a paddler performs various paddling drills and tests. Immediately after the drills and test, comes the all-important teachable moment. Coach Red quickly analyzes the results, identifies strengths and opportunities for improvement and shares the findings with his client. This is where the rubber hits the road or should I say, “this is where the paddle enters the water”.
After experiencing the process described above first hand, Coach Red identified one key opportunity where I could improve my stroke. This one key area did require a few adjustments to correct various issues. My stroke had some extra movement, with excessive reach and forward paddle blade angle while setting up for the catch. In addition, this extra movement and reach actually shortened my effective stroke length in the water on the front and back end of the stroke.
Opportunities to improve my stroke
- My top arm had excessive bend and my top hand was too high and too close to my forehead. This created a nice looking forward blade angle; however I lost valuable leverage and the blade did not fully engage until later in the stroke.
- I was over rotating to gain more reach which exaggerated the issue above as the desired downward pressure on the paddle handle could not be achieved until the paddle shaft approached closer to vertical when view from the side.
- Additional related issues included a rounding of my upper back during the power phase and inconsistent power application through the side (set of approximately 20 strokes on one side of the KayakPro)
Using a variety of unique Paddle Dojo tools, performing brief drills, more video and lots of coaching cues, Coach Red helped me fix the key areas described above and get rid of the unnecessary extra movement and rotation while setting up for the catch at the front of my stroke. Coach Red helped me improve my stroke efficiency, spend more time and length in the water while allowing me to apply more effort into each stroke consistently over time.
I would highly recommend visiting the Paddle Dojo and having your stroke analyzed by Coach Red. According to Coach Red, my stroke mechanics were very good in most areas; however he identified a couple areas where I can improve and greatly improve my existing mechanics. Thanks to Coach Red I’m in the progressively paddling stronger, longer and more efficiently with less overall effort. Thanks Coach!
[ Here is video footage from the session, as well the data sheets sent afterwards. ]
Learn more and schedule an appointment online at http://paddledojo.com. Or inquire about a visit to you and your team.
1st Coach's Eye Video no instruction
2d Coach's Eye Video after instruction
Coach's Eye Video comparison
Data captured during session and sent to me after