Learn to Paddle like World Champion Kelly Slater

An analysis of the Kelly Slater and Bede Durbidge paddle battle at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast – the top three paddling techniques Kelly uses for more Surf…
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25 thoughts on “Learn to Paddle like World Champion Kelly Slater”

  1. Thanks Rob. Paddling not my strong point. This is very well thought out and
    explained and makes a lot of sense. Will try it at the pool.

  2. Yep this works..I just watched this clip and went down to the pool. I feel
    like ive worked exact same muscle group as if i had a hard days paddle
    out. Personally I started with some normal (head under) freestyle lengths
    and then got into the head up strokes once id warmed up…thanks for the

  3. Rob, you would have a little more cred if you A: pronounced Bede’s name
    correctly. B: picked a paddle battle with a finish line. C: picked a vid
    that more clearly shows your points. In other words, “A” for idea
    (studying Kelly’s stroke). F for everything else.

  4. What about using swimming’s ‘s’ stroke and combining it with the boards
    flotation?Enter your hand just before the nose an extend it past the nose
    to purchase the water pull your hand down deep in the start of a big ‘s’ –
    (left arm, backwards ‘s’ on the right), this utilises your delts,
    trapezius, latissimus dorsi and a little bit if pec’s to make the major
    back muscle group work directly and efficiently. Pretend that your hand is
    the tip of a boat prop, constantly cutting the water, thumb first, until
    your arm is dead straight down in, as deep as it will go – the water is
    denser down there providing better purchase.(Think of an old flat canoe
    paddle, what happens to the water when pulled through it? It spirals/spills
    off each edge, that is why modern blades are concaved and shaped to
    purchase and release water off the blade for the stroke)
    Now release the water and bend your arm 90 deg (the nose of your board may
    be under the water but don’t worry). Now utilise your delt and tricepts to
    push straight back, as you do this, your other arm enters the water to
    start the same stroke. Now this is where you thank your shaper for that
    nose kick as your board will pop up projecting your board forward (the
    deeper your stroke and submersion of board the better the pop). All these
    flat ‘nose entry ‘boards don’t do this and they nosedive on the wave (don’t
    believe the hype of them being faster paddling)
    This stroke is hard to do and provides a lot of power. It works best in
    calm water (out the back or paddling for a wave).
    In foaming soupy water, it’s all about, short, fast arm stroke speed,
    sometimes ya just cant get away from foam – short and fast like the
    video(bad example of good padling), your paddling a lot of air anyway –
    (on a point or well defined bank) paddle wide away from the sweep and soup
    – you have little water purchase anyway.
    Once you get good, its nice to be paddling next to someone and going faster
    but your arm speed can be half of theirs (or rest an arm on your nose and
    paddle with one arm).
    This type of stroke is over 3x longer than just a windmill type stroke and
    uses muscle groups that directly pull you through the water (think of the
    difference between a straight bench press, using your pecs and an incline
    press using a combination of pecs and delts- you cant lift as much).
    Well that’s my yarn, give it a go, if it works – cool, if it dosent, try
    something different, if using your arms like a windmill works, cool but ya
    don’t see many modern paddle steamers out there nowday’s (which is what you
    will be like with straight arms, you tend to see boats with props).
    Oh I have been a professional swimming coach for 10 years and surfed for 27
    I don’t think that I am the fastest paddler and always keen to learn
    more but I always remember the old Hawaiian saying “you can paddle hard or
    smart, you should rarely have to do both.”

  5. Also, you didn’t mention anything about Bede and Kelly kicking, about where
    each surfer’s weight was centered, etc. Paddling is VERY different from
    swimming. Trying to analyze paddling from a swimming perspective is
    interesting, but since they are so different, you have to be careful not to
    over do it. The best paddling technique will vary from person to person,
    depending on body type, ocean surface conditions, type of board, etc.

  6. Hi Rob, thanks for your excellent insight – have surfed for 30 years
    without any real thought on this aspect (just thought it was time on the
    water) – will definitely try and apply in the water – ! thanks

  7. Thanks for this helpful video. You mentioned the difference in the power
    zone of the stroke on a shortboard vs. a longboard. Are there any other
    aspects of the technique that should be modified when on a longboard?

  8. CORRECTION: Nick Carroll, who was onsite for the event, provided me some
    insight into the paddle battle between Kelly and Bede. Kelly didn’t win a
    paddle battle with Bede so much as merely hold his spot on the inside.
    That’s what got him priority. The three stroke techniques still apply. – Rob

  9. That’s a tough situation you’re in. Once you dislocate any body part, it is
    very easy to dislocate it again on an even lighter impact. Unfortunately,
    that is where my knowledge on that topic ends. I would advise speaking to a
    physical therapist and have them watch you pop up on a surfboard. That will
    help them determine whether it is related. Best of luck – I have seen cases
    where by strengthening and stretching the muscles around a dislocation
    decreases the likelihood of a repeated dislocation.

  10. you left out something with shortboard paddling … kelly’s biography
    mentions part of his paddle technique —-> you want to paddle your hands
    underneath your surfboard not to the sides , it helps channel the water
    under your board

  11. See my correction in the very first comment below. The three stroke
    techniques still apply. Thanks for the comment.

  12. Thanks for the props to us PTs. and yes you are correct in that we are the
    best people out there to assess whether or not a conservative approach to
    stabilizing an unstable joint is the best course of action. Thanks again.

  13. Funny thing is, Slater was taught when he was very young to paddle under
    his board. I grew with up him and competed in the amatuers with him. You
    will not find another human being who has invested more into his craft on
    this entire Earth. He’s also the most accessable celebrity sportsman there
    is and treats strangers like they’re the most important person to him. The
    guy isn’t perfect, but should be enormously respected for how desciplined
    he is in so many areas in his life while staying real.

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