Vision and Improving your Hole Surfing


The Dagger Jitsu has really gotten me excited about playboating and teaching freestyle again.  I’ve been spending some time at Eternity Hole on the Tuckaseegee River and have been using video analysis to improve my skills.  I chose this clip to share with you because I feel that it can help you improve your hole surfing skills.  I’m going to describe parts of this video and have you watch it a few times.

First, notice that when I enter the hole my vision is fixed on the hole and where I want to end up.  Also notice how I surf onto the foam pile of the hole and don’t try to front surf my way in or get right in the crease where the green water meets the foam pile.  To be able to perform tricks you need to be able to move yourself out of the crease to the top of the foam pile.  That is where spinning comes into play.  Notice that when I start spinning, even though my bow is turning downstream, my eyes continue to look upstream until my bow is facing downstream, and then I switch my vision to look back at the hole to complete the spin.  Vision is key for any spin or cartwheel moves.

Then notice that right before I initiate my first cartwheel I put in a ‘brake’ stroke with my right blade to slow my spin momentum, to stay on the foam pile and to keep my bow pointed upstream.  As I initiate my first cartwheel my vision continues to look upstream and when I am vertical I switch my vision quickly to look back upstream.  This video shows that I could actually look upstream longer and make the transition to looking back upstream on my second end a little quicker.  My last end is vertical, but my body and vision have fallen slightly behind so I have to stop after that last stern end to re-group.  If my vision and body movement had been quicker to look upstream I could have continued with at least another end.

On the next spin I start moving out of the hole, but because I’m looking back upstream at the crease I recognize this and take a few backstrokes to stay in the hole.  Knowing where you are in the hole is also key to good surfing. My loop attempt is almost good, but I tucked too soon.  If I had stayed up on my feet and kept my vision looking up a few seconds longer the loop would have come through.

In river running we always say:  “Look where you want to go.”  In playboating we want to maintain our vision in the direction we want our bodies to move and our boats to follow.  I hope that this video demonstrates how important vision is to hole surfing.  As I get more savvy with video I’ll video more and do some voice-overs on the videos.  🙂  Happy Surfing!!

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