When out and about do you ever find yourself gazing at stretches of water – be those placid or in full flow – and seeing how you’d navigate a line, paddle to the next spot, drop into that wave or cut back into the river’s eddy? It’s a common experience, as you become more hooked on SUP, to view your surroundings differently and assess how you’d tackle new routes and locations in your mind’s eye.
Visualisation has long been a technique that athletes use to improve their performance. The more vivid and repetitive you can make these conscious moving images the better you’ll understand each manoeuvre or skill you’re working on and trick (to some degree) your muscle memory the movements are already locked in.
In surfing terms visualisation can be described as mindsurfing. Wave riders often perch themselves in front of open ocean pulses of energy and picture results of dropping in, carving a bottom turn and performing whatever move the wave dictates. Big, small or even ripples are game for mindsurfing and as with visualisation it helps mentally prepare the rider for their next session.
Stand up paddle boarding, as we all know, isn’t limited to tidal venues with flotsam in the mix. Paddlers can tackle any watery route they choose, as long as their skillset will cope. A new piece of water may require scouting before putting in. This is a good time to mindSUP how the session will play out.
And then there’re those SUP skills everyone needs to master – tail sink pivot turns being an obvious one to focus on. With visualisation you’ll imagine how each element of the manoeuvre feels; what you need to do to complete the turn; how your surroundings smell, appear and sound before finally stomping it. The more ‘real’ you can mindSUP the more likely this’ll lock in and remain in your memory banks for when you tackle it in the flesh.
We’re not suggesting there’ll be instantaneous success if you start visualising your stand up paddle boarding progress. But it will help in the long run and avoid heading into something new ‘blind’ as it were.
If you have any tips for improving your SUP then let us know.
For more stand up paddle boarding hacks, tips and tricks hit up the McConks hacks page –