Paddle Clinic 07-2011

By Jim on Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Over the weekend a group of paddlers took on the challenge to better themselves by learning some new drills at one of my Paddling Clinics.

There were over 35 people wanting to better themselves ranging from13 to 60 years of age. The weather was OK with a slight westly wind testing out all paddlers, however a passion for paddling kept everyone warm.


The desire to improve is what I love to see in people, no matter what age or level paddler you are; we should all have a goal. When you have a goal you will learn lots at days like this.

The day’s clinic was about learning what I believe to be the most important part of any sort of paddling. The catch, the front part of the stroke. This is the most critical part of paddling because if you can get the catch you get the craft up and moving, this allowing the acceleration of the blade through the water so much easier, this leads to a nice clean exit. If you do all of these things then you will be able to be an efficient paddler that becomes injury free.

We started the day by showing everyone the paddle stroke and how to overcome the pitfalls of their stroke that they had being doing.

The catch was the first area that we worked on.

Learning to place the blade in an over pitched position so that you can generate the most force on to the blade as it enters the water.

Common mistake is that the blade enters the water on its side (duck feeting I call it) this is because paddlers have their hands down to low, so we worked on hand position to allow the blade to make the over pitched position.

Then we worked the middle part of the stroke, the acceleration, by doing this we used a two-person drill to help feel the movement and speed in which the blade moves through the water.

Third and last the exit, again we used drills to simulate the exit position, so when the blade exits the water it doesn’t scoop water up at the back.

By twisting the wrist outwards the blade then turns and the water will feather of the blade, leading to a smooth boat run.

If you have trouble with the catch you will then try and pull the blade out of the water, which leads to the scooping up of the water at the back of the stroke.

This will lead to injury because you lift between 1-2kgs of water each time; imagine how many strokes that are over a 1-hour paddle.

The clinic was also an on water as well as on land. On water we worked on the importance of balanced when trying to better our paddle stroke. The Mykayakcoach saying is Balance=Power=Speed, with this in mind we did lots of sitting with hands on heads, paddling without the use of the paddle and also some drills from the land incorporated on the water.

Overall the day was great fun and new ideas on the movement and position of the blade stroke, with not ever forgetting the little areas like, where to sit in your craft, where to have your hands on the paddle, also what is the right boat for you to choose and never forgetting to make it fun.

If a clinic or a one on one session like this is what you or a group of people might like then contact me at and I can tailor a session to suit your paddling needs. You don’t need to be world class to get help.