Splash, dash heard your call
Bring you back your golden ball
He’s gonna dive down in the deep end
He’s gonna be just like your best friend
So when I watched this video posted with an article in RapidMedia , the first thing I thought was “Shoulder! Shoulder!, Shoulder!” I mean, putting that arm out in chicken-wing fashion then hitting the water will put a lot of tension on that shoulder, right? Next I thought, is there really a safe way to learn this style of high brace on flat water? Then I thought, isn’t there this whole school of thought out there that there is rarely a need for a high brace at all? Then I thought, hey look at all the peer reviews at the bottom of the article!! That’ll cover it!
I don’t know, personally I find the whole flat water high brace thing to be a bit sketchy. It’s hard to come up with an appropriate time or reason to perform this style of high brace on flat water as part of a class. Having students drop over, putting pressure on their shoulders like this just seems like asking for trouble to me. In my experience, the only time I’ve ever found a need to high brace myself was in big waves and then only when hit at an angle from behind and to the side. In that case, you’re upper body actually takes the brunt of the pressure. It’s a body-first brace where your back actually provides the “stop”, not your paddle. This allows paddler can keep their elbow tight in against their ribcage as they brace which protects the shoulder. I know Shawna & Leon over at Body, Boat, Blade had a pretty good flat water alternative way back in 2008 where the paddler actually does hit the water body first, which really seems like a safer approach to me. I wrote a bit about that here .
I know this brace and this technique well, I have taught it myself in the past. I’m just not sure the body position used on flat water really translates to waves and moving water conditions. Maybe the more important discussion would be to ask if it is safe and appropriate to teach this style high brace on flat water at all and if so, how do we protect our students shoulders? Of course, I’m no expert, so I’m certainly ready to be schooled… Go!