Leg drive

 Great tutorial on how to achieve a proper leg drive.

The stroke

The Set

  • Top inside hand over the gunnel
  • Bottom outside hand grip at least 2-4" above shoulder of blade
  • Outside arm straight (locked)
  • Rotate forward from the core, engage hips, torso, outside shoulder forward, inside shoulder rotates back (avoid over extension) spine is center of rotation
  • Legs and feet should be placed to maximize leverage
  • Head up, eyes forward

The Catch

  • Clean entry, spearing/slicing into water at about a 45deg angle
  • Fully bury and plant the blade
  • Load the blade, un-weight the boat, transfer weight to blade and outside knee

The Drive/Pull

  • Keep top hand over gunnel
  • Drive down top hand; bottom arm remains locked
  • Use your CORE: counter rotate hips, pelvis, abs, lats, legs for the drive (large muscle groups / no bicep pulls)
  • accelerate through the stroke, paddle remains buried
  • Pull straight back along the gunnel line


  • Out mid-thigh, do not go past hip (out at the knee for higher stroke rates)
  • No pause or drag at the back of stroke
  • Keep bottom arm locked, do not bend or pull elbow past body
  • Release - Slight feather of blade with top hand, slice blade out
  • Relax bottom wrist
  • Initiate return forward with your core not arms


  • Unwind shoulders, rotating back to set position
  • Blade out of water, about 2-3" off water line as it moves forward
  • Muscles relax; deliberate forward motion using core (do not bend arms and lift to get forward)
  • Square blade back to set


Hips to the Gunnel:

This is to indicate all paddlers need to get ready to leave the docks, and should position their hips as close to the side of the boat as possible.

Paddles Up:

Raise your paddle to a position that is ready to paddle, 2-3" above the water.

Take it Away:

Start paddling in synch with row 1.

Prepare to Back it Down:

Raise your paddle over the water in reverse direction, prepare to paddle backwards.

Back it Down:

Begin back paddling in synch with row 1.

Let It Ride/Run:

Stop paddling and let your paddle rest across your lap and the gunnel.

Flare The Paddles/Boat:

Rest your paddle blade flat on top of the water to act as a stabilizer when a wave is coming at your boat, or two paddlers need to switch positions in the boat.

Bury The Paddles:

Indicates the boat is ready to do a race piece start, usually heard prior to start commands at the start line, also during practicing starts.

Start Line Commands:

  • We Have Alignment: All boats are lined up and we are ready to start the race.
  • Attention Please: Time to bury the paddles in the water, the race will start momentarily.
  • Air Horn Blast: Time to GO!

Water Bottle Workout

Check out this great video