Paddling Technique


This page is meant to help you to properly propel a canoe or kayak in a straight line. There are many strokes  to turn a canoe or kayak, draws, rudders, pries;  the best way to learn those is by taking a class, getting out paddling with a club or find a quiet section of water and practice, practice, practice. After over 40 years of paddling, I can still learn new tricks. That's what is fun about paddlin, you can always learn something new!

canoe paddle stroke technique

Bent Shaft Paddle Technique

At FoxWorx, we mostly use a bent shaft canoe paddle but the paddling technique is pretty much the same for a straight canoe paddle. The canoe paddle should be perpenticular to the water and should follow in a straight line with the keel as our son Liam demonstrates in photo # 1. The force created will propel the canoe forward in a straight line

bentshaft canoe paddle technique


.In photo #2 Liam demonstrates a good solid canoe paddle catch. The paddle is going in the water without much turbulence and the paddle enters the water almost vertical and he is keeping his arms straight and turns from his upper legs and torso.

power phase of canoe paddle stroke

Power Phase

The power phase of stroke is shown in photo #3. The blade of the paddle is anchored firmly and he is pulling himself and the canoe to the paddle. His arms are straight and the torso is doing the work, and he is pushing down with his upper hand. This also demontrates proper shaft length, notice his upper hand is at brow height.

Canoe paddling technique finish


Photo #4 shows the end of the stoke. Liam's hand is at his hip, notice the oblique angle of the blade, any longer stroke would pull the paddler down, not forward through the water. This is where a bent shaft canoe paddle is more efficient, the blade is more perpenticular to the water at this point.

Low angle kayak paddle technique
Low angle kayak paddle technique

Kayaking uses the same muscles as
canoeing, the arms are kept straight
and the power comes from the upper
legs and lower back.  The paddle is
anchored  in the water and the kayak
is pulled to the paddle.Liam demon-
strates the low angle stroke used by
most recreational paddlers,
the paddle shaft is held closer to the
water and usually a longer paddle is

High angle kayak paddle technique
High angle kayak paddle technique

Here he shows
the more aggressive high angle stroke.
The high angle stroke follows the keel
line of the kayak and it propels the
kayak in a straighter line. This stroke uses a slightly shorter paddle, requires more energy but moves the kayak much faster.

using a double bladed paddle in a canoe
Double blade paddle in a canoe  technique

  Using a double bladed paddle is an easy way to move a canoe or kayak in a straight line, every stroke on your left is matched with an equal stroke on your right. In a tandem canoe sit and switch style mimics this left-right stoke of the double bladed paddle but the stern person has to be able to know when to call the switch. You can more headway in to the wind and it is easier to turn a moving canoe with a power stroke than trying to use a rudder with the wind that we were fighting. Here I demonstrate a 230 cm double blade in my solo canoe, as you can see To reach the water I had to use a high angle stroke which throws a lot of water in my lap, also this stroke can put stress on rotator cuffs in our shoulders.

Paddling a canoe with a double bladed paddle
Double blade paddle in a canoe technique

Here I am using a 260 K3, you can notice the lower angle plus with the longer shaft length the blades are outside the canoe so I stayed much drier. I like the K3 for these long paddles because of the light swing weight and the stiff carbon blade. The double blade in a canoe is a good choice for windy days and upstream travel,or if you are paddling a tandem canoe solo.

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