Club Stroke

The stroke cycle has five phases with a 1:1 ratio of power and recovery phases.

  • Low impact
  • Protective of joints
  • Avoid shoulder impingement
  • Avoid rotator cuff injuries
  • Using core and back muscles with great endurance, over movers muscles with little endurance.

Setup Phase
“The Start Position”

  • The blade is angled forward, at 60 degrees, just above the water.
  • The top hand has a light grasp on the T-grip.
  • The bottom hand has a light and low grasp on the shaft.
  • The head is up, and the eyes are forward.
  • The head, spine, and back are straight and centered.
  • The arms are fixed with a slight bend.
  • The trunk is slightly twisted/rotated with the bottom arm forward.
  • The body leans forward, hinging at the hips.
  • The power hip (same side as the bottom hand) is slightly forward.
  • The power leg (same side as the bottom hand) is extended forward, and the opposite leg is bent.

Entry Phase
“The Catch”

  • Lean and reach forward, and fully submerge the blade smoothly and quietly in the water.
    • The catch is when the blade is planted in the water using the rotation and lean of the body down to the water.
    • The catch is the setup for the pull.
    • This is the start of the “power box.”

Power Phase
“The Pull”

  • The pull starts after the catch: pushing through the leg, untwisting, and sitting up, all in one smooth motion.
    • Activate the core (abs, paraspinals, and obliques).
    • Drive with the power leg, and bring the canoe to the blade.
    • Uncoil the core and shoulders as one unit, returning to an upright position.
    • Keep the power even and consistent throughout the phase.
    • Keep the blade in line with and close to the gunwale (side of the canoe).
    • The top hand stabilizes the paddle and is not driving down.

Exit Phase
“The Release”

  • Smoothly lift the blade out of the water using both arms.
    • No pausing, scooping, or flipping.
    • This is the end of the “power box,” 
    • Aim to pull out of the water at about the middle of the thigh.

Recovery Phase
“The Return”

  • The transition between one stroke and the next, returning to the Setup Phase.
    • The top hand stays outside of the gunwale; it does not drop across the canoe. 
    • The power hand keeps the blade just above the water while returning.
    • This is a low return, with no feathering, dragging, flaring, pausing, or twisting of the wrists.


The perfect synchronization of a crew. A well-blended crew is an efficient, faster crew.

Power Box
The physical distance the paddle travels during the Entry, Power, and Exit phases.

Stroke Rate
Measured by strokes per minute (spm). Example: “Bring it to 48 strokes per minute.” A SpeedCoach or Garmin watch are useful tools for calibrating stroke rate.

Stroke Power
Is measured by percentage. The force or pressure exerted during the power phase. Example: “Bring it up to 90% for four changes”

“The Change Over”

  1. After exiting at the “hoe,” the change to the other side begins.
  2. The top hand releases the T-grip and moves to grab the shaft near the bottom hand.
  3. As the top hand grabs the shaft, the bottom hand slides up the shaft to the T-grip.
  4. Simultaneously, the legs switch position, and the hands bring the blade across the canoe.
  5. The blade is on the other side, in the Setup Phase moving to the Entry Phase (which must be a full stroke).