Basics of Canoeing

Following the KISS principle I have always wanted to make things easier, and more straightforward [to learn]. Back when I was first starting to learn how to canoe my instructors insisted on us knowing (properly executing and identifying) something in the order of 150 paddle strokes and 20, or more, basic manoeuvres. Even after many years this still seems excessive and overwhelming. When teaching canoe skills I now try to boil down the skills into a very basic set of concepts and skills. I don't want to imply that the basics are all that are needed but If you understand the basic concepts and how they are applied then expanding on the skills, alone or in combination, is easier.

Three Axis of Rotation

pivot points

When paddling one of the most important concepts to consider is where and how you are placed in the canoe and the influence of the corresponding pivot points. Balance in all facets of canoeing is important.


Two Manoeuvres

I realize that many paddlers (and instructors) think that everything can be boiled down to just an arc. A large arc is a straight line, small arc is a pivot. This line of thought is just a little too simple for me, I have expanded into two basic manoeuvres. These two basic moves are at the opposite ends of the spectrum - pivots stay in one place, straight lines move the canoe. In combination these moves can make circles, curves, arcs, lines.

Just as a clarification any time the pivot point of the canoe moves in a straight line, without rotation around the point, the manoeuvrer is a straight line. Thus a line can have the canoe facing forward, backward, sideways, or even at 45 degree angle. Through a combination of a line and a pivot you can have pinwheels, circles, line pivots, etc...

Forces in Three Dimension (Strokes)

Directional forces ('strokes'), keeping in mind the forces needed to move around the axis of rotation, to move the canoe through the basic manoeuvre. The strokes, alone or when combined together into compound strokes, placed in various locations will provide all of the torque or propulsion necessary for all of your canoeing needs. Again a minimalist would point out there is really only one stroke with the force applied in different directions and places but that is too basic for me.

Back to Home Page
Back to my Canoe Instruction WWW page

October 20, 2018