I was asked about transitions from one manoeuvre to the next - what is the best combinations of moves, which ones fit together, and the best method to switch between each. Unfortunately, I don't think there is an easy answer to this question but here are some thoughts.

A friend of mine said: “The conclusion of an element should set the paddler up to move to the next element. A little like writing in cursive (joined up) rather than printing. The tail of the letter is such that a range of other letters could join it”. Transitions between individual elements are as important as the elements and should be considered as part of style paddling, a missed transition will mean a poor subsequent element.

The following is my interpretation rather than gospel, and this is just to get started. I have separated FreeStyle and Canadian Style but remember these are part of the same continuum rather than separate disciplines. It is perfectly acceptable to mix skills, paddling, and manoeuvres.

FreeStyle Thoughts

I am starting with the FreeStyle (FS) end of the continuum since the style is more structured, and at the level of the PC program there is a simple approach to transitions.

FS uses more running (static) strokes as part of many manoeuvres. Some momentum is required before executing any manoeuvre (christie, axle, wedge, post), this means that each manoeuvre is separated by a simple line with 3 or 4 strokes with the canoe held at a neutral trim and heel. Although this is a huge simplification, it suits my needs, and fits with the expectation in the PC course. In a generic sense, transitions boil down to: Line - manoeuvre - line - manoeuvre.... Transitions are limited to exiting a manoeuvre into a line. There is no 'best' transition as everything starts/ends with a line, you can mix and match what gets put on each end. The important thing to remember is the shift to neutral weighting between each manoeuvre.

The following video link uses Axles to demonstrate exiting to a line ( At each transition to a line, the canoe is levelled just as the move finishes. A paddle stroke completes the move, and then usually a palm roll into a stroke in the direction of the line. Although I have used an Axle, the general approach is similar for any FS manoeuvre.

To provide a more continuous example of bringing things together - an impromptu style demo - Between each move, there is a short line to build momentum, and the canoe is level with a neutral trim.

Canadian Style Thoughts

At the Canadian end of the continuum, things are less structured and primarily this style uses more continuous paddling. This opens up some opportunities but also some challenges. My expectation is for a continuous motion, or flow, from one manoeuvre to the next, the distinction between each manoeuvre and transition is blurred. Canadian style is done at a standing heel, there may be some adjustment but it is minimal compared to FS. I should be clear running strokes and braces (similar to FS) are still often used but the context is a little different as there are less significant weight shifts.

The direction of motion at the end of the initial manoeuvre and the start of the final manoeuvre should be maintained - the final vector should include some degree of the initial - e.g. the transition from an inside circle to outside circle.

The example video ( provides a series of transitions as almost a continuous set of motions:

The following time points and commentary demonstrate a series of transitions.

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June 28, 2021