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canoe paddle hold
File photo credit: wikimedia commons

by Hevina Kaur

A canoe paddle is structurally very different from a kayak paddle in that it has only one blade. Canoeing is also different from kayaking because it is usually a 2 person activity while kayaking can be done by one person. As such, holding and using a canoe paddle differs considerably from holding a kayak paddle
Once again before you start, it’s crucial to be able to recognise the different parts of the paddle.

Learning to hold a canoe paddle is considerably easier than learning to hold a kayak paddle.

1. Your top hand holds on to the grip of the paddle. Place your four fingers on the top of the grip and wrap your thumb around it. The back of your hand will be facing you. This is the hand that creates accuracy in the stroke.

2. Your bottom hand will grab the throat of the paddle. This is the hand that generates the power of the stroke. When you hold the paddle out, your hands should be slightly over shoulder width apart. 

canoe paddle

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Now that you know how to hold on to the paddle, its time to learn the proper technique to using the paddle. The basic forward stroke in canoeing is known as the Cruising Stroke.

1. Use the above techniques to make sure you have a good grip on the paddle.

2. Fully extend your arms out. The paddle should be on the side corresponding with your bottom hand.

3. Stick the paddle in the water, making sure your blade is fully submerged.

4. Pull the paddle back until your lower hand is slightly behind your body.
This will allow you to move forward in the canoe. The person behind you should be doing the same on the opposite side. In canoeing, communication is key because the two of you need to make sure that you are in sync with each another to ensure the canoe moves effectively. 

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