Nailing the Forward Canoe Stroke

Single Bladers,

As the weather continues to warm up we will all be spending more time on the water, preferably in open boats.  In doing so, you must do your part to uphold the image of open boaters.  I wanted to share some thoughts on how to ensure your forward stokes are efficient and effective.

Here are five suggestions to help you nail the forward stroke:

1) Keep your paddle shaft vertical.  It is natural for a forward stroke to move the boat to the off-side; however, less correction is needed when we have a vertical paddle shaft as seen from the front of the boat.

2) Engage your "big" muscles.  No matter how impressive your guns are they will eventually tire after a day on the river.  Your torso muscles are much more efficient and powerful.  Use torso rotation to unlock maximum power in your forward strokes.

3) Stop the power at your knee (definitely not past the hip).  Applying force past the knee results in your blade pulling up on the water.  This results in extra drag and a noisy boat.

4) Dial up the power.  If you begin the stroke with maximum effort your paddle will begin to slip.  It is better to gradually increase the juice throughout the power phase.

5) Pull the boat to the paddle.  It may seem counter intuitive, but you need to understand that the paddle is not being pulled through the water.  You want to stick the paddle in one spot and pull the boat and yourself forward toward the catch point.

If you need any ideas for drills, a quick lesson to work on a troubled stroke, or just want to paddle, contact us.  I hope to see you rocking the river this summer!