The “Double Pump” bow initiation stroke is the one technique that seems to give people the most problems. Once mastered, the door is opened to all of the flat water tricks. Go to any kayaking club and you’ll spot a group of wannabe playboaters crowding around the seasoned freestyler handing out yoda-like words of advice. “Lead with your head!” “You have to think of your body like a pair of scissors!” “You’re not comitting enough!” Hundreds of topics on paddling forums are written by those still trying to nail the double pump along with youtube videos of technique to be critiqued. Until you’ve got it cracked, it can seem almost impossible. I know, because I spent a lot of time on the river face-planting in my quest to get my boat on to the bow.
But it doesn’t have to be hard. The best possible way to learn the double pump in my opinion, is to get some quality coaching from a reputable coach. Having somebody who can show you how it is done is useful, but the key is observation. To be able to learn the skill, its important to be taught by somebody who knows what it should look like – how much edge the boat should be on, where the paddle should be, how the upper body should be rotated and so forth. As well as this, a coach should have a few tricks up their sleeves to help overcome faults in technique.
Besides getting time with a coach, what also worked for me was watching video tutorials. I spent a lot of time watching most of the online tutorials and buying playboating DVDs before I found this video from Adrian Shanahan’s Blog:
Honestly, I rate it above tutorial DVDs that I’ve paid for. The double pump is broken down in to simple steps, with different camera angles and slow motion footage. If you’re still trying to get vertical, it’s definetly worth checking out!