How to Paddle a Canoe: Strokes and Techniques

4:46 p.m. on June 3, 2012 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "How to Paddle a Canoe: Strokes and Techniques"

Learn how to use that canoe paddle properly. From the J stroke to the sweep, draw, and pry, here are the basic paddling strokes and techniques you need to know for any canoe trip.

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/how-to-paddle-canoe-strokes-techniques.html

10:55 a.m. on June 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Fascinating article…thanks Erich! I’m not an experienced paddler but I go on a single weekend trip every year with a Church group for a two mile round-trip canoe paddle to camp on an island in a local lake. Being one of the more physically fit of the bunch I usually get saddled with either extra equipment or a passenger that can’t paddle (special needs type folks). That one mile paddle on flat water with a bunch of “dead weight” was kicking my butt every year. Finally a more experienced paddler came with us and noticed that I had zero technique and took the time to teach me the J stroke. It was absolutely amazing how much difference it made.

1:40 p.m. on June 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Patman said:

Finally a more experienced paddler came with us and noticed that I had zero technique and took the time to teach me the J stroke. It was absolutely amazing how much difference it made.

I know what you mean. All of the highly experienced paddlers I've ever known extoll the virtues of technique over strength. I'm still working on it, but, as you know, it makes a huge difference.

That's my then 7-year-old son in the top picture. Erich was nice enough to give me some feedback from the photo alone on his hand position and the need to use the torso more. The poor kid's just paddling a canoe, never knowing he'll end up in an article about canoe strokes...

2:33 p.m. on June 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Proper technique can turn an activity from a labor to a pleasure. When I am teaching, especially with kids, I love to see their eyes light up when they began to get the right "feel" of a stroke. An analogy would be rowing. When I was a competitive oarsman in school, much of the time, the boat moved forward with a great deal of effort on everyone's part. We were fast, and won races, but it was a labor. Only in a few races, was everyone in perfect sync, timing, effort, everything. Those races we won handily, and the boats just flew.

5:40 p.m. on June 4, 2012 (EDT)
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My first summer camp canoe trip started with an afternoon of us "paddling" the boats on shore to practice the strokes.  Unfortunately, that was years ago and I've forgotten all of it! This article has inspired me to re-learn these long forgotten techniques. Great job Erich!

1:47 p.m. on June 6, 2012 (EDT)
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Alicia, my son Ned was just seven when we took our first canoe trip on a lake route in the Canadian Rockies. He's paddled several thousand miles in the last ten years...you're never too old or too young to hear the song of the paddle.

October 21, 2014
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