Most of the time we are interested in going forward or downstream.  We need an efficient stroke to get us from point A to point B with the least effort possible.  We will be covering the forward stroke in more detail later on in the class but it makes sense to break down this very basic stroke into its components.

  1. Catch - This is where the paddle first enters the water, preferable near your feet.
  2. Propulsion - This portion of the stroke moves the boat forward.  Simply pull the paddle blade in the water from your feet to your hip.
  3. Recovery - This is the portion of the stroke where the paddle blade leaves the water and the other paddle blade gets its turn.

Really proficient boaters manage to hold the paddle blade 90° to the boat as the paddle traverses from front to back.  They do this using just one hand - the control grip.  The other hand takes a break and often has an open grip.  Great paddlers seldom need what is known as correction strokes.  A correction stroke is often a simple rudder at the end of the forward stroke to bring the boat back in line.  Here is a nice video demonstration of a proper forward stroke: Forward Stroke Demonstration.