Understanding the Whitewater Jigsaw Puzzle
White water at any level is a jigsaw puzzle, by putting together all of the pieces hopefully offers you safe passage through.
Some paddlers understand the puzzle and can go piece by piece other need to wait to look at the box and the entirety before following suite.
Putting together the jigsaw is one of the biggest skills for any paddler. Being able to understand how the water flows and moves also the consequences of a mistake.
For a beginner and intermediate paddler, putting together their first rapids. It is important not to overload them with too much information. But set clear sides to the jigsaw, start and finish points, by offering the edges and showing them the box by watching another paddler. The paddler should be capable of fitting the puzzle pieces and understand why and how they fit.
At higher levels the jigsaw becomes open ended. With so many possibilities its like the Baked bean jigsaw puzzle.
In some cases it takes another set of eyes or a team to put together the pieces. Again starting by setting the boundaries and take it piece by piece, take on other peoples views and ideas. Whitewater can be interpreted differently by different people. Through experience and knowledge comes an understanding of the bigger picture.
Its important to recognise the boundaries and be able to identify them this gives a clear Edges to start and finish, Whether the Edges are the river banks or pools. It is important to be able to also understand whats outside of these boundaries, as they may come into play in the event of a swim or portage. Sometimes a different perspective of a Puzzle can offer another view and the opportunity to add more pieces to the jigsaw. Don’t be afraid to get out of your boat and walk the bank, to check out whats happening. You cannot always see whats behind the next move from the boat.
Kayaking is a sport with so much to learn. No matter how good someone is they are always learning and thinking. Its no secret Expert paddlers love to take a look at the box first before taking on something. But the difference is the box doesn’t dictate how they interpret the puzzle. They will try new things and push the boundaries to explore and accomplish.
A Jigsaw Puzzle can be any section of water, Race Course or Freestyle spot, its important to be able to understand and build the fastest line or the biggest score. The Puzzle is a great tool to break down the whole picture into more manageable segments.
Always remember the jigsaw is never really complete, with rivers flowing and ever changing the puzzle is always growing,
Paddle with people you trust and listen to their ideas and views. Don’t be afraid to offer your own opinion. A good paddler will explain their reasoning and offer advice to improve your knowledge and ideas for putting the puzzle into perspective.
A puzzle never needs to be solved on the first attempt, sometimes its worth leaving it and returning with a clear head and fresh perspective. Also dont be afraid to bring in other Puzzle solvers. Some Paddlers are just unbelievable at putting together the pieces.
For another post on Why we Paddle and motivations check this out