Rob Case Paddling Videos/Paddling Technique In General

Mr J

Gerry Lopez status
Aug 18, 2003
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Regional Vic, Australia
You have to be fit and a good paddler in order to get to the spot where timing/wave judgement, pop up reflexes, core-strength can kick in. This applies at most surf spots except for reefs and points where positioning is easy and obvious.

As I've gotten older and the shoulders have worn out this has become more and more clear. Many my age give up and go to the dark side of riding long boards because they can't do the paddling thing effectively enough.
moving on to bigger boards and eventually doing nothing but longboarding is a common path for the aging surfer. However it's an interesting discussion point if paddling power is the most common reason.

Older surfers can have great wave judgement, I know some very competent longboarders who do big Bells and they are not short of paddling power. I think their difficulty with shorter boards is that they don't have the fine timing and pop up reflexes for that narrow take off window that short board confine us to. Plus they have lost (or never had) the reflexes to deal with the shortboard. Not able to generate speed on the HP shortboard.

We all face our individual limitations with getting older. I have never been a strong paddler. I consider myself to be fit, but don't have the raw grunt. My biggest challenge now at age 59 is losing the stamina of youth and the ability to recover overnight from hard paddling and surfing sessions.

I am not heading down the longboard path .. yet. 95% of the time I am on a HPSB 1" shorter than my height, due to my slight build it has easily enough volume and planing area to get me up and going. I am still comfortable with generating speed and feeling connected to it. So I cope with the loss of stamina and slower recovery by including enforced rest days and two short sessions in a day instead of one long one. Plus I have lost my appetite for taking on "big" waves which means I don't need step ups. So I'm operating on the use it or lose it with shortboards. About 15 years ago I had a Donald Takayama egg - wonderful board in point break, but after riding that for a few sessions in a row, it made the shortboard feel really squirrely.
 

GromsDad

Duke status
Jan 21, 2014
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West of the Atlantic. East of the ICW.
moving on to bigger boards and eventually doing nothing but longboarding is a common path for the aging surfer. However it's an interesting discussion point if paddling power is the most common reason.

Older surfers can have great wave judgement, I know some very competent longboarders who do big Bells and they are not short of paddling power. I think their difficulty with shorter boards is that they don't have the fine timing and pop up reflexes for that narrow take off window that short board confine us to. Plus they have lost (or never had) the reflexes to deal with the shortboard. Not able to generate speed on the HP shortboard.

We all face our individual limitations with getting older. I have never been a strong paddler. I consider myself to be fit, but don't have the raw grunt. My biggest challenge now at age 59 is losing the stamina of youth and the ability to recover overnight from hard paddling and surfing sessions.

I am not heading down the longboard path .. yet. 95% of the time I am on a HPSB 1" shorter than my height, due to my slight build it has easily enough volume and planing area to get me up and going. I am still comfortable with generating speed and feeling connected to it. So I cope with the loss of stamina and slower recovery by including enforced rest days and two short sessions in a day instead of one long one. Plus I have lost my appetite for taking on "big" waves which means I don't need step ups. So I'm operating on the use it or lose it with shortboards. About 15 years ago I had a Donald Takayama egg - wonderful board in point break, but after riding that for a few sessions in a row, it made the shortboard feel really squirrely.
I'm a dedicated shortboarder. I have longboards but quite honestly riding them does nothing for me. I mostly surf crowded beach breaks and current is often a factor. I've always resented people who use longboards for wave hogging and as a crutch to mask their lack of ability and I never want to be THAT guy.

A few years back I came up with this assessment of my surfing. There are only three things to do in a surf session.

1. Ride waves
2. Battle the crowd.
3. Battle the current.

Up until the age of 40 I could do all three very well.

From age 40 to 47 I could combine any two of the items listed above well but could no longer do all three and enjoy myself. I'd get my waves but I wouldn't have fun.

Shoulder problems kicked in hard for a few years at 47. Shoulders have pretty much recovered but where I'm at now I can still surf just fine and can use experience to deal with a crowd to a degree but if you throw in current there is no way I can do all three. The exception would be those days where current spreads the crowd out and you can catch a wave and walk back up the beach for a quick paddle back to the peak.
 

Mr J

Gerry Lopez status
Aug 18, 2003
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Regional Vic, Australia
...Plus I have lost my appetite for taking on "big" waves which means I don't need step ups...
This picture was yesterday evening and despite what I said a few extra inches of surfboard would not have been out of place. Pumping open ocean beachbreak, well overhead. Ferocious rip currents with water travelling in all directions - out in channels like freeways, sideways and in some patches towards the beach. I did not attempt the set waves on the outside, instead aimed to sit on the edge of a channel about 3/4 of the way out. Caught a few on my hp shorty, literally just a few. Those Inside ones still overhead and heavy, so happy with that. My daily driver fairly narrow, so nice and stable in the juice. The thing to avoid here is getting sucked out by a rip into a heaving wave crunching on an outer sandbar.

Years ago I surfed this place with a competitive swimmer whose surfing was of mediocre ability at best. He could sometimes catch a wave on his shortboard with poor judgement, but overcoming it with sheer grunt. He was swimming fit, but not surfing fit. There is some overlap of muscles used, but they are not same, so what tended to happen to him is that he would "hit the wall", all of a sudden run out of paddling power, because the his non swimming muscles were tiring. He recognised this and on this occasion told me he was going in. The next thing he told me was that he could not reach the white water on the edge of the channel to wash in towards shore with the whitewater. He was not able to catch a wave in. Heading out to sea in the rip and becoming free of the current, not a good option due to the size on the outer bars. I tried to reach the edge of the rip and he was right - sideways current making it too hard! So I said lets try the other side of the rip - it was no problem in that direction. I haven't encountered a rip at this place that boxes in all directions.

What sometimes happens here is that instead of the current going towards the channel at the end of a ride it goes sideways towards the white water and I can end up in a situation of non stop duckdiving and it would either take a huge effort or not possible to paddle sideways into the channel to get back out to the lineup. So I just let myself get washed in and walk back towards the mouth of the channel. This might look pathetic to a more youthful and/or stronger paddler, but preserves my energy for more waves. Yesterday there was no one else in for kms to see me do that :p
 

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oneula

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Jun 3, 2004
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when I was like 30 years younger and had access to a pool. I would revert to my waterpolo training days and swim laps with a foamie stuck between my legs and dribbling a waterpolo ball up and down the lanes. This was followed by laps of butterfly/breast maybe a set of 400m-800m for each repeated as long as I could. Then when it was flat go down to ala moana park and paddle a kids board up and down the beach park without kicking as long as you can. It helps with maintaining the back arch with out shorting out your lower back as well as getting the lats , shoulders and core bigger. Situp/crunches for the lower back and twisting armbar pushups for the core and tri's.
But that was 30 years ago when I was in my 30's-40's and re-starting my surfing career.
Being able to stay in and swim in the open ocean currents forever without getting tired makes a big difference in your surfing
 
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Why_was_I_banned

Billy Hamilton status
Sep 5, 2020
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This subject came up in the "volume forward boards" thread and started to dominate the discussion, so posting as a separate thread here.

I've watched a few of Rob's YouTube videos, and it's been transformative for me. Finally understand the physics behind efficient paddling (Duh! And I studied engineering for a year!) :foreheadslap:

Main things I've been focusing on:

1. Not over-reaching, especially when sprint paddling. Focusing on instead entering the water not too far in front of my shoulders. The over-reaching was a constant mistake of mine, I now realize.

2. Keeping my elbow high when paddling, so entering the water at a more vertical angle. Also making a smoother entry.

3. Thinking of my hands and forearms like a canoe paddle.

3. Focusing on pushing BACK not DOWN. This is probably what made the biggest difference overall. Seems super obvious now, but I never really thought about it before (because dumb).

4. Head down close to deck when getting into a wave (I already did this, but more conscious of it now).

5. Keeping my belly lifted slightly off the deck while paddling. This was mainly to relieve new back pain I was experiencing (worked!), but also seems to speed up my paddling for some reason. Body more horizontal, so board more horizontal?

LInk to Rob Case's YouTube page, which is where I found the most useful videos:


Key videos that helped me the most:

BEST SIMPLE SUMMARY OF KEY TECHNIQUES:

NOT OVER-REACHING:

ELBOW POSITION/PROPER USE OF FORCE:

CREATING FORWARD PROPULSION:

BASIC PHYSICS BEHIND IT (KINDA DRY, BUT WORTHWHILE):
All of this has made a huge difference. Catching way more waves, and MAKING more waves, instead of dropping in too late and falling behind. And this on a lower volume board than what I was riding before (only a liter less, but still). And my shoulders don't hurt after my sessions anymore!

Lohena and Maz pointed me towards this information, so want to thank them both :cheers:

Curious if anyone else has gotten benefit from applying Rob's methods, or any other methods they've found that actually work to increase wave count.

I've been trying to use the "S" stroke, but not sure I'm doing it right. Feel pretty hit & miss on that still..
A couple of corrections.
1. Don't raise your elbow high, trying to grab deep. The proper arm motion, and why you don't over reach, is because if you enter the water, and reach forward, you are actually pushing yourself backwards. Your arm should be stroking back as it enters.

2. Reach with your shoulders. Not much but do it. Then you are using your lat muscles when you pull. Otherwise you are just using arm muscles.

3. Stomach crunches. Tighten your stomach muscles. If your back is arched, you are again pulling using arm muscles only. If you hunch your shoulders / crunch your stomach, you are pulling with your core muscles. This makes you put your weight onto your chest, and gets your belly off the deck. This will get you down the face.
 

Mr J

Gerry Lopez status
Aug 18, 2003
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Regional Vic, Australia
when I was like 30 years younger and had access to a pool. I would revert to my waterpolo training days and swim laps with a foamie stuck between my legs and dribbling a waterpolo ball up and down the lanes. This was followed by laps of butterfly/breast maybe a set of 400m-800m for each repeated as long as I could. Then when it was flat go down to ala moana park and paddle a kids board up and down the beach park without kicking as long as you can. It helps with maintaining the back arch with out shorting out your lower back as well as getting the lats , shoulders and core bigger. Situp/crunches for the lower back and twisting armbar pushups for the core and tri's.
But that was 30 years ago when I was in my 30's-40's and re-starting my surfing career.
Being able to stay in and swim in the open ocean currents forever without getting tired makes a big difference in your surfing
Swimming definitively helps if access to surf time is limited. When I was at my most willing to challenge myself in the surf I was confined to being a weekend warrior who supplemented with 2 mid week swims. Similar to your ideas I would train the back arched paddling position by swimming front crawl with my head out of the water and some kickboard (it is possible to do this with the stomach muscles preventing lower back arch, thus arching more from the mid back). Nowadays I just surf more.
 

Mr J

Gerry Lopez status
Aug 18, 2003
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Regional Vic, Australia
A couple of corrections.
1. Don't raise your elbow high, trying to grab deep. The proper arm motion, and why you don't over reach, is because if you enter the water, and reach forward, you are actually pushing yourself backwards. Your arm should be stroking back as it enters.

2. Reach with your shoulders. Not much but do it. Then you are using your lat muscles when you pull. Otherwise you are just using arm muscles.

3. Stomach crunches. Tighten your stomach muscles. If your back is arched, you are again pulling using arm muscles only. If you hunch your shoulders / crunch your stomach, you are pulling with your core muscles. This makes you put your weight onto your chest, and gets your belly off the deck. This will get you down the face.
Sounds like we have reached some similar conclusions regarding not putting the hands too deep and getting the belly off the deck. What do you mean by "reach with your shoulders"?
 

Why_was_I_banned

Billy Hamilton status
Sep 5, 2020
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Sounds like we have reached some similar conclusions regarding not putting the hands too deep and getting the belly off the deck. What do you mean by "reach with your shoulders"?
Your shoulders aren't static and perpendicular to your spine. Right arm goes forward, you right shoulder goes forward. When you stroke, use your lats. Your spine is not rigid
 

Why_was_I_banned

Billy Hamilton status
Sep 5, 2020
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Swimming definitively helps if access to surf time is limited. When I was at my most willing to challenge myself in the surf I was confined to being a weekend warrior who supplemented with 2 mid week swims. Similar to your ideas I would train the back arched paddling position by swimming front crawl with my head out of the water and some kickboard (it is possible to do this with the stomach muscles preventing lower back arch, thus arching more from the mid back). Nowadays I just surf more.
I hate swimming. Major PTSD after high school swimming/ water polo.

But I LOVE prone paddling. If I swim for an hour, I get out of the water stressed. If I paddle for three hours, watching seagulls fly by, pelicans bombing, bikini girls playing on the shore, listening to the waves slap the side of the board, I'm in nirvana.
 

Lohena

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Oct 30, 2019
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I have chronic tendonitis in my elbow. For some reason swimming freestyle or breaststroke aggravates it, but paddling on a shortboard doesn't. I'm thinking it's because I fully extend my arm for my swim stroke but keep my elbow bent for paddling. Not really sure though.
 

Mr J

Gerry Lopez status
Aug 18, 2003
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Your shoulders aren't static and perpendicular to your spine. Right arm goes forward, you right shoulder goes forward. When you stroke, use your lats. Your spine is not rigid
I experimented with this a little yesterday, however anything other than what my shoulders naturally wanted to do did not feel good. It doesn't mean that this is not a good tip for some people though, we are all different and have to work with our individual body characteristics
 
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Why_was_I_banned

Billy Hamilton status
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I experimented with this a little yesterday, however anything other than what my shoulders naturally wanted to do did not feel good. It doesn't mean that this is not a good tip for some people though, we are all different and have to work with our individual body characteristics
Yup, don't force it. It's a subtle extension. Ever watch a cat walk? That's about all it is.
 
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Mr J

Gerry Lopez status
Aug 18, 2003
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Regional Vic, Australia
Dude, you’re definitely a THAT guy.

Longboard at will. it won’t hurt your rep.
You were talking to GromsDad I believe. Longboards, kites, foils are all fine with me. The chaps I know who do big Bells on their longboards and guns are not using them as a crutch - they are out there on days when a shortboarder of average ability will balk at the size or fail to catch waves because it is a difficult wave to read what it is going to do. At my open ocean break the kites have a ball when it is strong sideshore and semi blown out for surfers.

Switching between HP longboard and shortboard is actually a difficult thing to do. The Takayama egg I used to own (of HP longboard proportions) was absolutely wonderful in overhead point break - long drawn out bottom turns running way into the flats beyond what was possible on a shorty. Cutbacks with a rebound off the white water also possible and extended the time to carry out and enjoy this maneuver. Coming off the lip was a feeling of levering it rather than flicking the board. All this is very tail driven though - the board length means needing to step on the tail to get the nose out of the water. That is not going to work for shortboarding, thus time on the longboard won't do anything for shortboard skills.

Then there are conditions like I enjoyed yesterday, the open ocean too big and blown out. Sheltered cove providing onshore messy junk. These conditions can be enormous fun on a shorty - the concave will extract maximum speed from the bumps and pockets of steepness, but be a completely unsatisfying experience on a longboard - the rolled v and length is not meant for that form of speed generating. I'm with GromsDad, I don't want to ride a longboard! There is nothing wrong with that either.