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Winning the sprint

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Most sprints in the game of canoe polo are during game-play, and never stationary, but there is one exception. At the beginning of the game, 2 (or more) players sprint for the ball, starting stationary at their goal-line. Getting the sprint optimal takes some practice and a good technique.If you are the lucky bastard who has to sprint for the ball, it’s vital to train for it.
Everybody can do a sprint, but not everybody can win most of them.

Starting position

Your starting position should be dictated by the position of the referee. Officially, referees are supposed to throw the ball exactly in the middle of the playing area. In practice, however, the ball usually ends up about 3 to 4 meters from the side-line, especially if the referee is not right next to the pitch.
Position yourself at that 3-4 meter mark at the side of the throwing referee. Sprinting in a straight line will give you an advantage over the ones that have to change direction.

The start of the sprint

You can start sprinting as soon as the referee blows his whistle. Your reaction time is key in this, but you can cheat a little. For example, you can make your first stroke when you think the referee is going to blow, gaining a fraction of a second.

The first 4 – 5 strokes are he most important to the success of the sprint.
Start off with short but deep strokes, using all your strength and mostly relying on the upper body. Once the kayak is up to speed you can make somewhat longer strokes, but keep using the upper body as much as possible, don’t draw all your strength from just your arms.

Dipping at the right time

You should arrive at the ball at full speed, never ever reduce this speed, even if the sight of an oncoming opponent scares you.

If you are lightning fast and make it to the ball at least half a boat length sooner than your opponent, you can just turn on the ball and make a safe pass.

If you are about as fast as your opponent you should try and dip your kayak under his. Aim the point of your kayak just slightly next to the ball, preferably at the same side your opponent is aiming. About 0.5 to 1 meter before impact dip your kayak and immediately reach for the ball.
If you win the dip, there is a big chance you have a better reach for the ball and an opponent landing on top of you will most likely get a foul against him.
If you lose the dip, there is one more option to try, and that is to slide over the front of the opponent without touching him. Sometimes you can still make it to the ball before him that way.