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A question about Paddle Grip and Hand Width from “Bill”

Monday, March 24, 2008
Dear Brent,
You have been so gracious to give me advice in the past and I thank you very much for that. I have another question for you. I now have a wing paddle and I have moved up to a surf ski. It has been great fun but very challenging. One of the things I am struggling with right now is keeping my hands in the right position on the paddle. They tend to move around a lot and it seems like I am constantly adjusting to the right position. I have tried putting tape on the handle but I still seem to move up the handle. I have notice in your video when you are demonstrating with your wing paddle you have some type of orange handle grips with a raised ring or stop that may prevent your hands from moving up the paddle handle. Can I buy some type of grip that would assist me in keeping my hands in the right spot? And if so where can I order it? And as far as proper hand position, holding my paddle horizontal above my head I am placing my hands at the spots where my elbows are at 90 degrees. Is this correct? Thanks again for your help and your video is great…I look at it often. Regards, Bill

Bill, in an effort to share this knowledge with everyone, I've choosen to post Your Question - and My Answer to my site:
Bill: I typically “customize” all my paddle shafts by adding a very thin piece of “paddle-grip” material to increase the circumference ever so slightly. I subscribe to the analogy of tennis players using a larger grip to help avoid tendonitis issues. This is an Old Theory, but one that has worked over the years for me. Hand Size of course is key in this debate. The material I like to use will vary with the diameter of the shaft. However I have had good success with The Purple Grip material that I THINK came from Salamander…However, I’m not sure anymore, as these company keeping being bought-up and product mix changes…Regardless, the material is as thin as I can find. The other KEY customization I make is to COVER up this Grip Tape Surface with High-Grade Vinyl Electrical Tape. In my humble opinion, The Surface-Area of ALL of the grip tapes out there, are WAY TOO AGGRESSIVE. For paddlers who even do modest mileage, the stock-surface will tear your water-logged hands to shreds if you don’t cover it with something more slick which allows the shaft to rotate freely. (I am not a fan of gloves...) Also, I typically wrap the grip-tape from the Paddle-End toward The Center, thereby utilizing the thin edges of each ½ inch tape edge to keep my hands from slipping toward the center of the shaft by mistake. Lastly, I like to measure the exact distance from the center of the shaft where the INSIDE of my hands will rest (see note below). Then I simply use Additional Electrical Tape to "raise" this area so I can "Feel" when my hands may be "cheating toward center"...Got it?

Regarding your Hand Position: You need to go a bit NARROWER than you are describing. You should grip the paddle in a fashion where your Upper Arm and Lower Arm are at 90 degrees to one-another, but then MOVE YOUR HAND INWARD ABOUT ½ - 1 hand’s width. Your Upper and Lower Arms will now be at a slightly ACUTE angle vs. 90 Degrees. Hope this helps Bill, brent






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