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“Going training”: SUP speak for paddlers

 

People have been using slang, jargon and colloquialisms for many years to reinforce identity and exclude outsiders.  And it still goes on now.  You know that feeling when you listen to a politician or Chief Exec on the news, and despite hearing all the words you still can’t quite understand what they’re saying?  Or when you hear teenagers using words that you know, but with a totally different meaning? That’s because it’s designed to only mean something to an exclusive group of people ‘in the know’.

Are we any different as SUP’ers?

Since SUP’s inception there have been many people happy to play fast and loose with the English language.  And there are a bunch of words of phrases now (too widely) used. Often out of context or incorrectly and in the wrong setting.

‘Waterman’ (should that be waterperson?) is a perfect example.  The term is bandied around willy nilly, suggesting anyone attributed with the tag is a larger than life superhero willing to put their own mortality on the line; charging head long into extreme oceanic situations that will leave many running for cover. Simply paddling around on flat water doesn’t really cut the mustard.

Watermen?

You might get away with being classed as an enthusiast, but definitely not a waterman.  And it doesn’t matter what your tee slogan says.

Another word we’re hearing used incorrectly a lot of late is ‘training’. You might have done it yourself:

‘Bye love, I’m just heading out for some SUP training. Back for dinner’  when actually you were just going for an evening paddle.

If you’re fortunate to SUP in an area where there are other stand up paddlers in abundance you’ve probably been asked:

‘What are you training today?’

“Nothing mate.  I’m just having a paddle. And enjoying myself.  Why don’t you do the same rather than taunting me about training.” we often think but never actually say!

There’s also the issue of all the Hawaiianisms.  SUP is a surf sport as much as a paddle sport.  Surf, as we all know, originated in Hawaii, and there is a strong emotional pull towards Hawaii for any surf enthusiast (or should that be waterperson?). And using Hawaiianisms (and being able to play Somwhere over the rainbow on a Ukelele in the style of the giant Israel Kamakawiwo’ole) helps define you as a surfer in the eyes of other surfers, and reinforce that connection.  And maybe make people think that you’ve been to Hawaii.  And maybe even that you’ve surfed at Waimea.

Therefore expect to hear ‘Aloha’,

injected into sentences at any given opportunity.  Throw a hang loose shaka in the mix for maximum effect and hey, ‘it’s all good brah! Aloha’.

Surf speak has been around for aeons. Those gnarly dudes among us have charged sick pits since they learned what a ‘throaty keg’ actually was. And while there will always be characters whose surf lingo sits comfortably with them, the fact is that the vast majority outside of SoCal will probably sound like a cringe worthy try hard.  Cityboys/girls reciting tales of dredging lefts and/or death slabs just doesn’t come across right. Maybe swap the suit first? And ditch the latte – watermen (and women) drink guava juice…

And it’s not only wave heads. ‘What’s your cadence across a mile sprint, dude?‘Hammer (buoy) time!’ Yep, wannabe racers (some of whom might actually be actually non-racers) are guilty too.  SUP certainly has adopted its fair share of surf speak but there’s definitely an added element of broism brought on by swinging a paddle (or should that be SUPisms?).

Photo Credit: supracer.com

Of course, when describing certain elements of stand up, it’s hard not to use certain terminology. And there’s nothing wrong with actively becoming part of a global movement – either through wearing the threads, rocking the kit or whatever. Sometimes though forcing the issue just becomes painful. Plus we’re Brits (or Scots, English, Irish and Welsh), not Hawaiian.

Letting rip with ‘staying loose’ in the pouring rain, gale force winds puffing harshly onto frozen skin (you’ll definitely be wearing boardies if you’re into SUP, come hell or high water) just doesn’t fit the marketed brochure shot pushed hard by those selling the dream.  Hypothermia aside, grey/brown water and temperature readings barely in double digits doesn’t really instil enthusiasm for those not yet indoctrinated. ‘What is it you do again? Gnarly what?’

At McConks we try to dispense with jargon, and to speak in plain English. So if we don’t do that, please call us out; embarrass us on social media.  SUP should be inclusive,  not exclusive.  And we want to be part of the cure from jargon, not the cause.

For now we’ll dispense with trying to promote ourselves as tropical SUP warriors, battle hardened and ready for some serious race training, hanging ten, or ten rounds with Mother Nature in the surf arena. Instead we’ll sip tea, remain stiff upper lipped and enjoy punting around our local lake.

To clarify: if you hadn’t already guessed, much of the above was written with tongue planted very firmly in cheek. Aloha.

 

 

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SUP hack: Stronger, faster, longer – upping your SUP game

It might not be in your game plan to be stronger, go faster or paddle for longer. Which is fine. After all, standup paddleboarding is meant to be a fun pastime, not a boot camp. But we keep being asked for advice from SUPers who’ve been in the game for a while, and who want to push on and reach that next level.

So, you believe in better. Better what? You need to decide exactly what your targets are. What do you want to improve and why? Having a plan is the bare minimum, and you need to set yourself challenges and targets that drive you on. Are you considering your first race, and if so, are you wanting to increase your stamina across distance? Or are you looking to step up in waves? And it’s really important to be 100% honest with yourself at this stage. It’s no good suggesting improvements or goals if deep down you’re actually happy where you’re currently at. Make sure you have the drive and ambition to improve before you actually set off down this path.

Once you’ve identified your improvement priorities and new goals, it’s time to assess how to get there and plan your route. For most people, the key components to work on are fitness and technique. And despite its easy entry level, SUP does require a certain grasp of technique, especially if you want to bust down next level doors. And the good news is that the requisite paddle skills and board handling can all be taught – at least the theory can be. So the best advice is to hit up your nearest accredited SUP school or instructor, and qualified instructors will be on hand to help. If you hit up the ASI (assocation of surf instructors) or BSUPA (British Standup Paddle Association) websites, you’ll find a long list of instructors and schools.

You can of course try to do it your own way. There are many different online tutorials delivered by luminaries of SUP. However, you need to take care when choosing what to watch. SUP is a new sport, and techniques and technology is evolving rapidly. Whilst for some things the old ways are the best ways, this is not always the case. Some of the tutorials can be outdated with older equipment being used, and with techniques that aren’t appropriate for new technology. And it’s worth remembering one of the truisms of teaching Anything you learn in the comfort of your own home is quickly forgotten unless it is put into practice. So anything you learn from your laptop should always be offset by ‘in the flesh’ sessions, preferably with a coach. That said those tit-bits of info picked up from the internet, from other paddlers and from instructors are all invaluable. Some might not suit you, some might be perfect for you, and you might be indifferent to others. But you need to put them into practice to find out. So be like a sponge and soak up all those tips and tricks from others.

One of the biggest areas for improvement is rider fitness. Paddling more will help, but only when combined with better technique. Simply spending more time on the water with bad technique and/or low end equipment – especially paddles – will do more harm than good. The saying is that a bad workman always blames their tools. It’s true that a good paddler can do wonders with a bad paddle, and a bad paddler can struggle with a good paddle. But choosing the right paddle will make good paddle technique easy. Just the right amount of dihedral, flex and balanced weight make the paddler’s job a lot easier. And prevents long term acute injury that’s the almost inevitable outcome of bad technique and bad equipment. And there’s no greater impediment to improvement than injury.

To get close to podium level, a degree of cross training is probably a necessity. We’re not suggesting everyone hit the weights but some gym work can pay dividends, as can mixing up your sport. Or you can take advantage of the increasing number of outdoor and green gyms that are springing up around the country. If you’re anything like us, you’ll much prefer outdoor exercise than sweating with the masses in a big warehouse. One of the biggest areas to spotlight is legs. You’ll be surprised how much strain is placed on your legs during prolonged SUP sessions. Anything that can help develop more efficient leg muscles, particularly thighs, is therefore a good thing. Biking and running are two such disciplines that will positively benefit your SUP. And to mix it up, why not try freerunning or parcours at the many extreme trampoline parks that are appearing in leisure centres and industrial units right now; have fun while training!

It’s worth repeating what whatever your performance improvement strategy entails, getting help from experts at the outset, even if only for one or two sessions is really important. If you don’t, you run the risk of the wrong kind of ‘training’ leading to injury. Take things slowly, with a little advice, and we’re sure you’ll see improvements soon.