Paddle stroke

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Two-person kayaks ("K-2") at the French. Championship: basic stroke

Paddle strokes are used to propel a paddle boat . They are carried out with the double paddle or the single paddle to propel the boat, to slow it down, to steer or to give the boat additional stability in unstable equilibrium on the water. The different strokes are performed with the two types of paddles in the various types of boats that are paddled with them . The type of execution of the strike and its effect also depend on the canoe used .

Paddling posture

The paddle stroke is not only performed with the hands or arms, but also supported by the movement of the upper body. The sitting posture should therefore allow a swinging and rotating upper body movement, even if the freedom of movement is restricted by wearing a life jacket . The upper body is kept straight and upright until it is tilted slightly forward (approx. 10 degrees). The pelvis should also be tilted slightly forward. Kneeling in the Canadian canoe this happens automatically, while sitting in the Canadian and kayaking a conscious posture is required. For an efficient paddle stroke, one uses body rotation instead of sheer arm strength. The arms remain almost straight on most paddle strokes and only transfer the forces to the anchored paddle in the water.


The sequence of a paddle stroke can be divided into four sections:

  1. Anchor the paddle in the water
  2. Paddle short jerk for forward propulsion
  3. Let the paddle slide on loosely
  4. Paddle recover

Each section has a technique that affects the efficiency of the entire paddle stroke.

When using the double paddle, two sections take place at the same time: While z. B. the paddle is pulled through on one side, it is automatically brought forward on the other side.

The process does not generally work that way. Different paddle strokes take place "statically", so there is no active pulling through and pulling out (e.g. stationary pull stroke, support stroke, control stroke). With other strokes it is pulled through continuously (e.g. scoring stroke).

When dipping the paddle , the blade is pierced into the water in the longitudinal direction of the shaft. With kayaks, the movement sequence when immersing can also be a lateral incision, so that the blade cuts into the water like a knife. The immersion should take place far in front, which is supported by gently swinging the upper body or turning the upper body slightly.

Only when the leaf is completely in the water is pressure built up and the paddle begins to pull through . As a result, the leaf is anchored in the water, which is known as a catch . Splashing water, gurgling water and eddies with air bubbles directly behind the paddle blade are hallmarks of a bad catch . When pulling through, the lower hand is pulled and the upper hand is pushed forward at the same time.
The paddle is only pulled through until the lower hand ("shaft hand" for Canadians, "pulling hand" for kayaks) is at seat height. If you go beyond the line of your hips when you paddle, then you begin to lift the paddle out and thereby push yourself down. As a result, pulling the canoe further generates almost no propulsion, but it still costs power and, under certain circumstances, can cause the canoe to crawl in a disturbing motion.

When pulling out the paddle , the paddle blade is pulled sideways out of the water. Depending on the position of the paddle blade, small control impulses for course corrections can be integrated (see control strokes).

The paddle blade should be as horizontal as possible when pulling out the paddle . In this way the drag and thus the braking effect of the wind is noticeably reduced, especially in cross winds and head winds. If the double paddle is turned more strongly, this happens automatically, as is the case with the single paddle if the paddle is held horizontally to advance.

Basic strike with left pommel hand ( Tony Estanguet in Canadian)
overlapping paddle stroke with right pommel hand (Canadians)


The lower hand, which is close to the blade that is in the water when striking, is called the “shaft hand” with the single paddle and the “pulling hand” with the double paddle. The upper hand is called the “pommel” or “guide hand” on the single paddle and the “pressure hand” on the double paddle.

The side of the canoe on which the paddle blade is in the water is onside or the "active side", the other side offside or the "passive side". With kayaks (double paddles) normally change onside and offside with every paddle stroke, with Canadians ( single paddle) only when changing sides. For quick correction strokes (see below under pull stroke ), e.g. B. in white water , an "overreached" paddle stroke can be carried out on the (actual) "passive side".

The side of the paddle blade on which the water pressure acts during a normal paddle stroke is the "front", the other correspondingly the "back".

Paddle strokes

The paddle strokes are comparable for kayaks and Canadians over long distances. Slight differences are due to the paddle (double paddle / single paddle) and the fact that with a double paddle a "change of side" takes place with every stroke, while with the single paddle many strokes occur one after the other on one side. The differences can be hidden, however, if you limit the observation to just a single paddle stroke (on one side when kayaking).
Other minor differences arise from whether a canoe is paddled alone or by two paddlers.

Basic strike

Basic strike (here with a Bentshaft paddle) on an outrigger canoe

The basic stroke is a pure driving stroke and serves to move forward. The paddle is inserted at the front and pulled parallel to the boat. The paddle blade should be aligned at right angles to the keel line . The paddle shaft should be guided as vertically as possible (viewed from the rear). To do this, the pushing or guiding hand must protrude on the active side while pulling through. So it goes far beyond the center line (in contrast to the obsolete rule not to do this). This is supported by the torso rotation.

In order to promote the rotation of the upper body, the paddle continuously moves away from the kayak a little (approx. 25 cm). It roughly follows the course of the bow wave . The wing paddle has a special technique in which you lead the paddle further outwards. With Canadians, the paddle should be guided parallel to the keel line, with as little lateral distance as possible.

Bow stroke

The bow stroke is a driving and steering stroke that can be used to change the course of the canoe towards the passive side. You lead the paddle in an arc with the paddler as the center. The bow stroke is drawn around the trunk with an extended pulling or shaft hand, the blade stretched out as far as possible. Insert the blade as far forward as possible and keep your arm straight.
Solo paddlers perform the arc as a semicircle, in two-person boats only as a quarter circle.

Pull stroke

The pull stroke is a control stroke with which a curve can be initiated or the canoe can be moved sideways to the active side. Its direction of action is across the keel line. There are two types of drag strokes: dynamic and static. With a dynamic pull stroke, the paddle is used far out, the paddle blade parallel to the keel line and the shaft as vertical as possible. Then the paddle is pulled in across the keel line up to the side of the boat, and finally pulled out to the rear.
With a static pull stroke, the paddle is only immersed in the water and held in this position. The paddle is anchored in the water by gently setting it up so that the canoe swings around it and the water current or the canoe's journey is used. The static pull stroke is z. B. used when driving in or out of eddy water .

The pull stroke can also be carried out at an angle to the keel line. This makes it a combined driving and tax blow.

Another variant is the overlapping pull stroke ( cross duffek ). It is used when a curve or a lateral offset to the passive side is required and a normal page change would take too much time. The paddle blade is brought to the passive side by strong torso rotation and dipped into the water there. The blow is mostly used as a static blow and especially used by bow paddlers and when driving solo.

8 hit

Path of the paddle blade in the water when striking eight

The figure eight is a special form of the dynamic pull stroke. With it, the canoe can be moved sideways continuously and with an even, uninterrupted pull. For this purpose, the blade is guided on an 8 parallel to the keel line, and the blade (similar to the functional principle of the cycloidal propeller ) is always slightly adjusted.


The push stroke is a reverse pull stroke in which the paddle is used directly on the boat wall and then pushed to the side. There are also static and dynamic variants here.

There is also the variant ("lever stroke"), in which the paddle is placed against the boat wall after immersion and the paddle is levered. Thanks to the lever, the paddle stroke is short, but very powerful and pleasant to perform. With a paddle guide, which strings several lever strokes in a row and in which the blade is not taken out of the water ("sculling stroke"), the canoe can be very effectively shifted sideways or forced into a tight curve. To do this, the paddle blade is levered outwards in an alignment parallel to the keel line. Then the blade is turned by 90 ° and brought back to the side of the boat without being taken out of the water. The shaft hand or pulling hand serves as an oarlock .

C blow

The C-stroke is an inverted arc stroke and represents a combined sequence of pulling, basic and pushing stroke: The paddle is immersed far in front and outside, and then in an arc close to the ship's side to the rear outside. With this stroke the turning of the canoe towards the passive side is compensated, the stroke is mainly used by solo paddlers in Canadians.

Blow backwards

Basic stroke, bow stroke and C-stroke can also be performed backwards. It is important that the paddle is held as with the forward strokes. Thus the position of the paddle blade does not change, and you can react quickly if necessary.

The backward stroke is used for braking, for simultaneous braking and steering, or for driving backwards.

Tax rate

The canoe can be kept on course with various control strokes. The importance of special control strokes is significantly greater when using single paddles than when using double paddles. With double paddles, most of the control, especially when control by edging alone is not possible, is carried out through the intensity of alternating arcs.

The simplest variant is to hold the paddle backwards with the blade upright and use it as a rudder . This is often used in multi-person and team canadians. The disadvantage here is that the paddle used as a rudder is not available for propulsion for so long.

A combination of driving and control blow is the "K blow" (also "counter blow"). Here, at the end of the basic stroke, the blade is turned upright (with the front facing the canoe) and held in the water for a moment as a rudder, or as a push stroke slightly pushed outwards (countered). However, because of this counterattack, the K-hit takes a little more time than the normal basic hit. In two-man canoes this makes paddling in unison.

The control stroke that enables paddling in unison is the "J stroke". This stroke describes a small outer curve before the end and you turn the paddle blade with the back side outwards (on the left side in the form of a "J"). The J-stroke best enables fluid paddling with sensitive course corrections both in the tandem canoe and in the solo canoe. For more powerful corrections e.g. B. in white water offers a stern lever, where the paddle is positioned on edge close to the hull like a crowbar is levered over the coaming .

Paddle support

high paddle support (flat)
high paddle support

The paddle support is a support stroke that improves the stability of the canoe. They are available as high (paddle shaft at maximum shoulder level) and flat paddle support (paddle shaft approximately at stomach height), and as static and dynamic paddle support.

The paddle blade is pressed firmly flat on the surface of the water. Due to the water resistance, you can load the paddle and lean on it for a short time. This is the elementary effect for the Eskimo roll . With the static paddle support - comparable to the pull stroke - the water flow relative to the canoe is used. For the dynamic paddle support, the paddle blade is moved flat back and forth over the water with a small pitch (comparable to the figure of eight). Basically, the angle of attack to the water (flat) must be checked with the paddle support; otherwise, the water pressure can act from above on the sheet and thereby the Kenter risk increase rather than decrease.

The high paddle support harbors the risk that the paddle shaft will hit the face if it hits an obstacle. There is also a greatly increased risk of injury due to the end position of the shoulder joint.



When paddling with a canoe paddle, the paddle side can be changed regularly to avoid one-sided body strain and muscle development. The time segments for changing pages can be selected individually between a few minutes and about a quarter of an hour. Training and developing a “strong side” is considered unfavorable and can only be avoided by consciously and consistently changing sides. Canoeing paddlers who move in white water inevitably develop a “strong side” to which they involuntarily switch before challenging river sections. In Canadier literature, paddle strokes that are regularly performed on the “strong side” are referred to as “onside” and those that are performed on the opposite side without the hands on the paddle having changed position are referred to as “offside” or “overlapped” Paddle strokes ”.

When paddling with a double paddle, shoulders and upper arms should be included in the movement. If these parts of the body remain too passive, the paddle shaft can only be tilted with the forearms, which leads to stronger rotating movements in the wrists. This can cause tendinitis .

In order to relieve the hands, the grip can be loosened in different phases of the paddle stroke. With the double paddle this is the pressure hand during the pressure phase; Both hands when pulling out when paddling.


  • Gary McGuffin, Joanie McGuffin: The fascination of canoeing. HEEL Verlag, Königswinter 2000, ISBN 3-89365-849-1 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. A good explanation in words and pictures can be found here: J-Schlag ( Memento of the original from October 16, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /