Sprints Over the last few weeks I’ve made a bit of switch in my paddling routine as I set myself 3 paddling goals.

1. Improve Paddling Fitness
2. Improve Stroke Technique
3. Improve Self Rescue Techniques

My usual paddling activities – short week night paddles with longer weekend/holiday paddling days are fantastic fun and although physically tiring, usually quite chilled out affairs enjoying the scenery, sights and sounds and simply being out on the water.

However, I need to get fitter and have some long trips planned which need a better level of stamina. In addition, I want raise both my speed/strength and stamina paddling for forthcoming leadership/coach training and assessments. I also want to refine my stroke technique.

With sometimes limited time available, my first steps towards achieving these goals have revolved around paddling more frequently but for shorter periods of time and sacrificing some of my longer paddles for one location training sessions.

I’ve been using Calshot Spit as a base for these sessions where it is easy to ‘park and play’ right next to the shoreline and there is plenty of ambient light from the Outdoor Centre and local shoreline. This means I have been able to keep up the paddling even when winds are blowing at F6 and I would not normally head out in the dusk/dark.

Whilst there is no real ‘scientific’ plan to the sessions I have devised a circuit of sorts which I am following that takes around 90 minutes:


Warm up paddle

720 forward left and reverse right sweep combos – 10 Reps

720 forward right and reverse left sweep combos – 10 Reps

50 stroke sprints (with stern rudder/pry practice on return leg) – 4 Reps

720 forward left sweep – 10 Reps

720 forward right sweep – 10 Reps

50 Stroke sprints (with stern rudder/pry practice on return leg) – 4 Reps

720 Reverse left sweep – 10 Reps

720 Reverse right sweep – 10 Reps

50 Stroke sprints (with stern rudder/pry practice on return leg) – 4 Reps

Bow Rudder Boxes: Left side – 10 Reps

Bow Rudder Boxes: Right side – 10 Reps

50 Stroke sprints (with stern rudder/pry practice on return leg) – 4 Reps

20 Rolls – various angles to wind/swell

Self rescue: straddle – 15 Reps

Balance Drills (seated 360’s on rear deck etc)

Stretching Session


When on a stroke drill I am not aiming for speed or power but concentrating on technique and constantly thinking about Body, Boat Blade looking to be as smooth as possible.

Bow rudder boxes consist of paddling a square path – 10 strokes, 90 degree turn by Bow Rudder, 10 strokes, 90 degree turn via Bow Rudder etc. In high winds, Bow Rudder boxes don’t really work as the wind will over-power a bow rudder – in this situation I do a form of zig-zag (similar to tacking in a sailing boat) up into the wind performing Bow Rudders on alternate sides.


After 2 weeks of running with this circuit I’m starting to feel the benefits. Some of the strokes are certainly improving and I’m able to apply more edge, turn tighter and utilise the stroke in rougher water than I was a couple of weeks ago.

I feel a little looser than I did as my flexibility is slowly improving which aids stroke technique. I’m not sure I can tangibly notice any improvement in strength but hopefully this is gradually improving.

My self rescue is significantly improved – I’ve never completely failed on a self rescue but in the past been very unstable and sometimes taken 2 attempts to re-enter the boat. I’m now much slicker, faster and am always back in the boat first time. interestingly, on the recent practice session with NFKCC, one of the other candidates from my 4* training watched my improved self rescue and commented on the difference since the course we attended which was pleasing feedback. However still need to crack the 360 spin sitting on the rear deck.

Finally, standing on the weighing scales this week has been a more pleasurable experience than in recent months which is a nice feeling!


I’m still getting out for some long paddles as the journeying aspect of Sea Kayaking is what it is all about for me. However I’m more than happy to be compromising for a while and concentrating on strokes and fitness as I can see the benefits this will bring longer term.