Paddling Tips

Technique Tips

  • When doing your forward stroke, imagine that you stick your paddle blade into one place in the water, and move your boat forward with your hips. The object is to move the boat, not to pull the paddle through the water.
  • The faster you go the more a kayak or canoe is inclined to yaw (move from side to side deviating from a straight course). Be prepared for this, and practice your strokes well before committing to an extended trip.
  • Keep your canoe paddle blade as close to the keel line as possible. This makes your boat go straighter on the forward stroke.
  • White-water kayaks and most canoes are symmetrical. That means what you can do forward, you can do backward. Try it out and you'll become a more versatile paddler.
  • All power strokes in a canoe forward, draw, back are most effective if the paddle blade is as vertical as possible in the water. Tipping the blade even as little as 10 degrees costs efficiency.
  • Canoe turning strokes (sweeps) are most effective near the ends of the boat, and far away from the boat. Imagine the "center of rotation" in the middle of the canoe, like the center of a pinwheel. Forces applied as far as possible from the center of rotation on the tips of the pinwheel most affect the boat's spinning or turning.
  • Take a lesson or go on trips with more experienced paddlers. There's always another trick to learn to make paddling a canoe or kayak easier and more fun. The paddling courses at our Outdoor Discovery Schools are a great place to learn more about these lifetime sports.

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