The double pump is pretty much the first thing you should learn if you’re trying to do any sort of flatwater freestyle. Effectively it’s the first end of a cartwheel and it sets you up to learn more complicated tricks like a tricky woo or loop. Some people learn how to tailee beforehand but I found that the double pump is the best place to start because other tricks seem to flow from there. I made a lot of mistakes learning this and I’ve seen other people doing the same things wrong so in this post I’m going to break down each step of the double pump and go over some common errors that prevent it from working – we’re all stuck inside right now so it’s the perfect time to go over any videos we have to see what we need to do to improve once lockdown finally ends…

For the sake of this post I’m going to assume that your boat is fully outfitted (if not, check out the link below) and that you have a solid flatwater roll…

First things first, paddle forwards at a steady speed – this will help get the bow down once you initiate the move. You want to place a firm paddle stroke in starting right at the front of your boat and finishing next to your hip while edging towards that paddle blade at an angle of 30-40 degrees. The aim of this paddle stroke should be to lift the tip of your boat out of the water so that you can slam it back down to get it under you. To practice this motion you can simply gain some momentum to help with balance and then edge the boat over slightly while doing a really hard forwards stroke on one side (ignoring the backwards stroke for the time being) with the sole aim of lifting up the front of the boat.

Once you can comfortably do this, the next thing to introduce is the backwards stroke. Once you’ve gained momentum and you’ve done a hard forwards stroke while on edge to lift the bow out of the water, you’ll find your core has wound up; as soon as you feel the bow falling you need to unwind your core in a hard backwards stroke intending to push the bow underneath you. This is the difficult part. Make sure not to lean back at all during the backwards stroke, you should stay neutral until the bow falls and then throw your weight forwards. For those of you who have done GCSE physics it’s all about pivots. The more weight at the front of the boat, the easier it will be for it to submerge and the stern to lift out of the water due to the force of your backwards stroke.

Finally, when you bow slams down and you’re effectively doing the first end of a cartwheel I see many people give up or panic and try to stand up. Don’t do this. Stay leaning forwards because as soon as you stand up your centre of balance will be too high and you’ll either fall on your face of flatten off the boat. When the bow slams down you should think about 4 things. First, keep your weight forwards. Second, keep looking forwards – this will bring the first end through. Your boat follows where you’re looking, if you look forwards the boat will flatten off after the first end whereas if you look at the water you’ll probably end up upside down. Third, take your paddle blade out of the water when it reaches the front of the boat. If the movement works and the bow submerges and you have you weight over it then keeping your paddle blade in the water will halt the rotation. You want to feather it out so that its not in your way. Finally, your left paddle blade is what you use to recover upon finishing the move. When the first end comes through you use it to do a low brace (like a backwards stroke) which will flatten the boat and stop the movement. That was a double pump…

To conclude:

  • Paddle forwards to gain momentum
  • Place a hard forwards stroke in at the front of your boat while edging around 30-40 degrees to lift the bow out of the water and wind up your core
  • Unwind your core in a hard backwards stroke from the hip
  • Shift your weight from neutral to the front of the boat
  • Feather your paddle out of the water once the bow is under you
  • Brace with your left paddle blade to finish

Some things I’ve noticed people (including myself) doing wrong:

  1. Paddling forwards really fast in the hope that it will carry them through. This doesn’t work, you should only paddle forwards to give yourself a little momentum, too much will make balancing harder and really, once you can double pump you shouldn’t need to paddle forwards at all.
  2. Edging too much. This changes depending on the type/make of boat and how high you’re sitting in it but realistically you shouldn’t be edging more that 50 degrees maximum. Never drop more edge than you can balance on, if you do then you’ll just capsize and that isn’t helping anyone.
  3. When you do your forwards stroke you lean all the way back. This might seem like it gives you more power but it doesn’t. When you lean back you have less control over the boat’s edge and general stability. Instead you should think about staying neutral (ish) but twisting you core for power rather than relying on body weight.

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