How to Practice Hard Moves on Easy Water


Are you feeling nervous or overwhelmed about taking on a new challenge, skill, practice or habit? If so, it’s time for you to practice hard moves on easy water.

This is good advice in the world of whitewater kayak instruction, AND its good advice in life too.

Practicing hard moves in easy water means to practice/try something that makes you nervous in an environment where the stakes are low.

When the stakes are low you’re less attached to the outcome. When you’re less attached to the outcome, you free up emotional and mental energy to focus on doing the practice. The more you do the practice, the more confident and skilled you become.

Last week was Creek Week, and as always, I started the group off in easy water practicing foundational skills that translate to hard whitewater. We practiced the basics of posture, vision, angle, edge and momentum in flatwater before moving downstream.

We hike up to a ledge that has low consequence and high practice value for learning how to boof. The women who came into the week struggling with their boof, left with a solid, well timed and powerful boof. That’s possible because of the practice of hard moves in easy water.

As I like to remind my clients, the roll you learn in the pool will work in whitewater as long as you practice. Without the low stakes environment of the pool, you can’t build the confidence to perform it in whitewater.

Recently I was in a masterclass with Seth Godin, a renowned author and marketing expert. His advice to folks who want to get into public speaking is to start by giving a talk in front of their dog. Then give the talk in front of 1 or 2 people they know. As the talk gets better and the speaker builds confidence, they can give it in front of more and more people. That’s also practicing hard moves in easy water.

How can you practice hard moves in easy water in your life?

  1. Be aware when you feel like you’re simply surviving as you attempt to achieve a goal whether it’s at work, around your health and wellness or on the river.
  2. Exchange your desire to be at a higher level right now for patience and trust in your unique journey. Good things take time.
  3. Set your ego aside and acknowledge that your achievements do not define your self-worth.
  4. Go back to easy water and practice, practice, practice! Consistent practice over time is what produces courage, confidence and skill! You’ll know when you’re ready to step it up.

If this idea of practicing hard moves in easy water resonates with you and you’re a whitewater kayaker looking to step up your game, to Class III-IV I invite you to join Creek Week 2024! It’s open for registration and there are only 6 spots available.

Click Here to learn more and register!