Archives for September 2014

Attaining to Train

Attaining to Train

Max done after doing 10 attainments. PC: Shane Smith

Max done after doing 10 attainments. PC: Shane Smith

What is one of the best ways to succeed at any sport? It is to train, and by train I mean repeatedly practice the moves and motions involved in your chosen sport. Over time, these motions become second nature. So when the time comes to push the limits you need not worry about guessing on how to accomplish a move, or what position your body should be on a landing. Since you have taken the time to train yourself, your muscles will react and counteract faster than you can consciously process the situation.

This past weekend I decided that I did not feel as comfortable in my by boat as I want to be. When I run whitewater that pushes my limits, I need to feel that paddling is “second nature” so that I am confident in all my abilities. I took it upon myself to go up to the Nantahala River and spend a good portion of my time doing the best thing I know to get better, and that is attainments.

I have found attainments to be one of the most effective ways to gain skill in a kayak in a multitude of ways. Below is a list of skills that I feel attainments work on.

Body positioning and posture

Attainments teach good posture, since if your posture becomes broken or sloppy you waste energy and tire more quickly. For example learning to lean forward using your core muscle rather than reaching forward with your arms then rotating your torso to move the boat past the paddle. Rather than the move paddle past your boat with just your shoulders and arms.

Paddle awareness

Many people wonder how to gain paddle awareness when running whitewater. One of the best ways is through doing attainments. The reason for this is since most attainments are done in shallow water adjacent to riverbanks or large boulders. So if you are not aware of your paddle it ends being wacked against rocks and dragged across the riverbed, slowly being destroyed.  In wanting to preserve your paddle and hard earned money you learn to not hit rocks by watching your paddle placement or take a shallow but very effective stroke.

Stroke control

Different moves require different amounts of power and stroke rates. When doing a more powerful move where a high amount of force is needed you learn to take slow powerful strokes. Yet, when moving up the back of an eddy you don’t need to exert as much force but need a faster stroke rate. Thus, teaching you how to paddle more effectively.

Edge control

Attainments are all about making ferries and using the water to your advantage. When you are ferrying you it helps to be on edge to make the move more effective and expend less energy. Furthermore, having to paddle upstream teaches you about the stern of the boat and how it grabs the water helping you catch edges less frequently. So you better learn how to edge properly.

Reading whitewater

Be able to read and interpret whitewater is paramount to better your skills as a kayaker. When you start at the bottom and have to work your way to the top, the only way up is by reading the water and learning were the path of least resistance is. That is looking for small eddies in the river that you can paddle up or waves to surf across.

Above are just a few of the skills one practices when doing attainments. It truly is a great way to train or just get more comfortable on the water. If you don’t believe me go find a section of easy whitewater and give it a shot. It will be tough but the reward is worth it.


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