The Forward Paddling Stroke (The Four Phases)

Author -  Scott Bicknell

The Forward Paddling Stroke (The Four Phases)


3:13 p.m. Tuesday, 20 May 2014


The Forward Paddling Stroke (The Four Phases)

The Forward Paddling Stroke (The Four Phases)

The Forward Paddling Stroke

Phase 1 - Counter Rotation and Firming Phase

Phase 1.jpgPhase 1b.jpg

The goal of counter rotation is to extend the onside blade as far ahead as possible and in a position where body weight can be loaded onto the paddle during the power transmission. The bottom or onside arm is stretched ahead while the top or offside arm is bent so the top hand is aligned near to the ear. Elbow position of top arm is critical for body weight loading - it should be around the offside shoulder height.

Phase 2 - The Catch

Phase 2.jpgphase 2b.jpg

It is the basis of the whole stroke. Spear the paddle forward so that the on side arm is straight and the top hand is in front of the forehead. The paddler has to put force through the shaft and onto the paddle. The paddle is driven into the water forwards and downwards. The paddle then supports the weight of the paddler as this force is generated. The catch ends when the blade is totally sunk in the water.

Phase 3 - The Draw Phase

phase 3.jpgphase 3b.jpg

This part of the stroke is the sliding of the boat past the planted paddle. In an ideal stroke the paddle is planted and 'locks' in the water and the boat moves past it. The paddle does not move back past the boat. The top hand should move forward at the same speed as the top hand shoulder during this part of the stroke relative to the blade. The top hand should not change position relative to the shoulder during this phase of the stroke (while the blade is in the water). The force applied is directly opposite to the direction of travel. The blade continues to support the weight of the paddler, stopping him from 'sitting down'. If the paddler is allowed to sit back onto his seat with his full weight, the boat will slow.

Phase 4 - The Exit

phase 4.jpgphase 4b.jpg

The goal is to get the blade out of the water as quickly as possible. The extraction of the blade is started just after the knees come past the hand. The paddle is withdrawn sideways from the water and not backwards, the shoulders and elbow should be kept down during this phase.


Posture: Power is dependent on good posture. Posture is essential for paddling in an efficient and effective way.

Connectivity: The relationship between the paddler and water connection between the body, boat and blade.

Power Transfer: Through the body as a result of good posture and connectivity. Concept of moving the boat past the blade is essential.

Feel: Sensory feedback through the various points of contact the paddler has with the boat and paddle.

For a copy of this, please see the Coach Toolbox.

The Forward Paddling Stroke (The Four Phases)

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