Author Topic: Interview with Oscar Chalupsky  (Read 4871 times)

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Interview with Oscar Chalupsky
« on: June 02, 2010, 09:40AM »
waldron forwarded me this interview

Oscar Chalupsky

In your estimation, how important is technique training compared to fitness training for the average paddler? Is it 50/50?

I love this subject as I spend more than 3 sessions a week doing technique. I constantly try to reinforce with people that technique is far more important than fitness! All of us, including the pros, can only improve and paddle our best with a dedicated focus on technique as part of our training routine. Training hard with bad technique will get you nowhere.

It is so important, I believe that newer paddlers should be spending up to 80% of their training time with a focus on technique, and 20% pure fitness training. For more experienced paddlers the balance can shift to around 50/50. Most top sportsman in all sports have personal coaches that stay with them 80% of the time, from practice to competition. This is especially true of sports with a focus on technique and form, such as golf, tennis and swimming. Today, many of these athletes maintain high levels of fitness, but they excel through refining their specific skills.

I recently worked a young swimmer who had no paddling experience. In just 2 months of technique work in a K1, he broke 2 minutes on a 500 meter course.

What is the most important factor in technique? (efficiency, injury prevention, reducing fatigue, etc.)

It is a combination of all of these. By refining your technique, you are learning to utilize your whole body to paddle, not just your upper body. You are maximizing your own strength, and utilizing the paddle to its full performance. This increases your speed, reduces your fatigue and helps prevent injuries. You’ll end up paddling faster over longer distances. It can take a long time for people to realize how important the legs are in the kayak forward stroke, and even longer for them to get comfortable with it. Practice is the only way.

If a paddler has 5 days to train on the water in a week, say 10-15 hours, how many hours do you think should be spent on form and technique?

I might be a bit biased, but I would do technique training 3 times a week. Some people get paranoid about losing focus on fitness, but in my technique sessions we are actually accomplishing both. For experienced paddlers, technique training can be done just by controlling the workout a little more, staying conscious of your blade placement, hip rotation, etc.

Would you rather be very fit with poor technique, or moderately fit with excellent technique?

Again, I would rather have better technique. These days I often end up having to rely on technique to get me through some of the bigger races, as I simply haven’t had the time to train the way I would like. For the Durban World Cup I had to get by on three 50 minute sessions a week leading up to the race, so my focus was form and technique.

Where do you work on technique? Ocean, flat water?

Flat water is the best for technique work. All my technique sessions are on totally flat water. This is the only way you can be totally focused on your form and all the components of the stroke. When I’m paddling downwind, I treat that as a separate discipline, and my “technique” training is aimed at catching runs and surfing.

What is your most important piece of advice when it comes to paddling technique? (blade placement, leg extension, blade exit, etc.)

There are several different components of the kayak forward stroke, and they have to work together to be truly efficient. Proper blade placement is essential, but can only be achieved with good leg extension, hip rotation, etc. If you have a kayak forward stroke DVD, study it. If you don’t, get one and watch it repeatedly. When practicing, spend different segments of the session focusing on a different component of the stroke. Paddle 500 meters at a controllable speed while paying close attention to your leg drive. Paddle the next 500 meters focusing on paddle angle, etc. Or break it into time segments. Personalize the training so it remains fun, but productive.

Personally, my core technique training boils down to a slow, controlled cadence where I really concentrate on maximum extension, rotating forward and placing that blade in the most efficient spot.

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