Paddle Straight with the J Stroke

by PennPaddler

 

One challenge to most new paddlers is steering the canoe straight. You’ll often see them paddle from shore to shore putting on about twice the distance as they would if they were going straight, totally exhausted when they get to their destination. Sometimes it’s impossible to get a boat to paddle straight because of the design, but it’s often the novices having the most trouble. Once you’ve figured out how to paddle straight you’ll have a much more enjoyable time on the water.

There are a few basic tips that will instantly help you paddling. One is to always pick an object on land that you want to get to and point your boat in that direction, keeping that object in your sites the whole time you are paddling. You’ll notice that by doing this your paddling will naturally adjust to keep that boat in line with that object.

There are several great canoeing strokes to master, first come the basic forward and back strokes. Once you have mastered these then you can move on to more advanced strokes like the j stroke, sweep, pry and draw strokes.

Assuming that you already have the basic forward and back strokes mastered learning to paddle the j-stroke comes easy with some practice. With some practice. With some practice. So many paddlers just do not want to practice. The best way to master the j-stroke is to practice on calm water, because that’s where the j-stroke works the best. Although it can be used on moving water the faster the water the less effective the j-stroke becomes.

The j-stroke is a combination of a forward and pry stroke with a twisting top wrist action that carves a J with the powerface of the paddle. You begin the j-stroke just as a forward stroke but when your stroke reaches your hip you begin to turn the blade sideways into the curve of the j. Think of it as carving a “j” into the water with your paddle while guiding with you bottom hand. Once you become better at it you’ll develop a more efficient stroke that gets faster and shorter while keeping you straight.

The j-stroke is very effective and once mastered makes paddling more enjoyable with less effort. Other advanced strokes to learn are the pry strokes, sweep strokes, draw strokes, indian stroke, superior stroke (rudder stroke), and sculling strokes. Once you learn the j-stroke you can begin practicing others.

Watch the j-stroke video.

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