The thought of throwing a line to someone in the water who really needed it was daunting at first. In fact, it’s fair to say I was afraid of throwbags. I was afraid that I couldn’t throw them properly – that if I actually had to throw one, I would miss the target.
So I just left my throwline it in the back of my boat so that I could say I had one, but never took it out to practice. I soon realised this was not a responsible approach and that I needed to learn throw properly. Here are my top tips for throwing a line:
In the beginning, hitting the target was the problem. The best way to improve accuracy is to hold the bag with your index finger down the length of the bag. The idea is to let go when your finger is pointing directly at the person you’re throwing to.
Point your non-throwing hand your target too. When I throw the bag I don’t release it until my two hands are in line. This helps to keep the bag high so it doesn’t hit the water too early.
Reaching your target can also be a problem. Using a smaller sized bag has helped me to throw the bag further. I really like the 18 metre Palm Lightning. I can hold easily in my hand and it’s easy to repack. There’s absolutely no point in having a massive bag and not being able to throw it more than ten metres.
Rotate your body as you swing your arm. By using your whole body, not just using your arm, you will be able to throw much further.
I stand with my left foot forward and reach back with my right arm before beginning my throw. This ‘wind up’ helps with body rotations when I swing the bag.
The best way to master the throw is to practice it regularly. You will quickly see improvements in accurately and greater distance in your throws. You will become more confident in your throw.
Leave your throwline in your car. Each time you go to your car, practice throwing it at something. Then do a recoil throw and repack it. Don’t think you have time for that? How long do you have to make that save on the river? If you don’t own a car leave it at your front door!
Practice at the river too, as a moving target can be a little trickier to throw to.
No one wants to paddle with someone who can’t throw them a line when they need it. So practice and make sure to get the people you paddle with to practice too!
A big thank you to my little helpers Chris O’Reilly , Oisin O’Sheachnasaigh, Tom Walsh, Garbhan Heath and Shane Daly on the Canoeing Ireland Easter Camp.