5 Strokes To Make You A Better Canoeist | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Becky Mason demonstrates a canoe stroke on a lake with trees turning color. Photo: Reid McLaughlin

Master these strokes and become a confident and competent canoeist

The way your paddle interacts with the water dictates how your canoe moves and the kind of experience you have as a canoeist. Learning a range of useful strokes will make you a versatile paddler who can canoe in different conditions and situations with greater confidence. Over the years, Canoeroots has brought you many important skills, and of these we have handpicked the top five most important canoe strokes to make you a better canoeist.

1. The traditional forward stroke

This is a very basic but essential canoeing stroke. If you master excellent technique and form while paddling forwards, you will increase efficiency and maintain power. Once you know how to use a forward stroke, you are able to advance to more complicated techniques. See how Becky Mason does a forward stroke here.

Becky Mason does a forward canoeing stroke

2. The backwards stroke

A great rule of thumb with canoeing is that any technique you can execute forwards, you should be able to do backwards. This is a great way for your brain to truly understand what different movements do. Being able to do an efficient backwards stroke can also serve you well when you need to backtrack in tight areas and don’t have enough room to pivot properly. Learn the backwards stroke.

A canoeist paddles backwards in an orange canoe.


READ MORE: The top 11 canoe trip faux pas you don't want to make

3. The low brace

The low brace can be a total lifesaver. It works by helping you apply pressure on the surface of the water. The resistance you create can keep you from capsizing. If you are out on the water in wind or choppy waves, having a confident low brace can increase your stability and confidence in these difficult conditions. Learn more about the low brace here.

A canoeist executres a low brace

The J-stroke

Do you steer your canoe by switching sides as soon as the boat begins to veer left or right? You need to learn the J-stroke. This stroke allows you to remain on one side and control the direction of the boat. It is essentially a forward stroke that uses wrist rotation at the end to push water in a direction that steers the canoe. See more about the J-stroke here.

A video screen grab of a canoeist demonstrating the j-stroke


READ MORE: 7 most important skills for wilderness canoeists

The C-Stroke

This stroke is a great tool for soloists to get the canoe moving forward. It’s a combination of the bow draw, forward stroke and J-stroke with the trajectory the path paddles forming a “C” shape. See the C-stroke here.

A canoeist performs a c-stroke on a lake

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