Tips on paddling technique in Traditional Boat Race

Traditional Boat Race 1

Image credit: Ng Chrong Meng/SportSG

The foundation to a good paddling technique is how you apply power while pulling the paddle through the water. In order to execute the stroke effectively, you will need to understand the components that make up the stroke technique.

Here are some things to take note of while paddling:

1.    Try to keep the paddle vertical when you push the blade into the water. Make sure the hand holding the handle is directly over the hand on the shaft.
2.    Try to minimise any excess movement when paddling. Any rocking or side-to-side movement will reduce the glide of the boat.
3.    When paddling, try to keep the paddle as close to the side of the boat as possible.
4.    Try to also recover the paddle as close to the water as possible. This will help reduce the cycle between strokes.
5.    Make sure to look forward and keep you head up to keep your airways open for breathing, and to have a visual cue for keeping up with the stroke pace.
6.    You should grip the shaft about 10cm up from the point where the blade meets the shaft. If your grip is too close to the blade, you will limit the range of your reach.

Besides those, each phase of a stroke should also be executed properly.

Catch - You should fully submerge the blade of your paddle  in the water before you start to pull.  This motion should be splash-free.

Pull - You will need to keep your core tight to pull the paddle through the water. Lock  your bottom arm while pulling and push on your legs for extra power.

Exit and Recovery - Move the paddle up and out of the water as the blade reaches mid-thigh as pulling too far back will create drag. When you exit the water, you can twist the paddle slightly inwards to break the pressure of the water against the blade. Try to recover without twisting or turning the blade too much.

Rotation, extension and forward lean - You should rotate your body slightly to achieve maximum reach of the paddle. The rotation should begin from the hips and lower back to the upper back, shoulder and arms.  Try to stagger your legs and keep the leg closer to the hull slightly forward to allow you to push for extra power. You should also try to lean forward at all times as it helps give you a little more reach.

Analysis of stroke technique can be made by isolating each phase of the stroke and tracking the movement of the paddle in relation to the boat and your body. Practice each phase of the stroke cycle to help you paddle more efficiently.

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