6 most important skills for new canoeists

Learning how to canoe is a very exciting experience and something that can open up a great deal of freedom and a lifetime of adventures. For this reason, it is important to get your foundations sorted so you can build your skill base.

So, if you have been looking at our canoes for sale with the view to learn a new sport, we have taken a look at six basic skills you should master before moving on to the more advanced areas and techniques:

Develop a great forward stroke 

It may sound simple, but executing a perfect forward stroke is something which takes practice. You will want to ensure that your paddle blade is positioned in a way that you pull the water efficiently and engage your core muscles through the stroke. This will mean you have the maximum stroke power as well as reduced arm fatigue.

The video below demonstrates how you can expertly execute a forward stroke:

Learn the J-stroke 

Learning this stroke means you won’t have to keep switching sides to stay on course – you can steer the canoe exactly where you want to go just by using your dominant side. It can be used when you are in the stern of a tandem canoe, or as an essential steering stroke whilst solo paddling.

Take a look at the video below on how to execute the perfect J-stroke:

Master a rescue technique

Flips in canoes happen, that is just the way the world works! But once you have an understanding and have practiced a canoe rescue technique, they go from being a worrying experience to second nature to fix. There are many different ways to execute a canoe rescue, so it is worth researching and practicing different ones to find out which works best for you.

Choose your correct paddle 

Just as with many things in life, you need the right tool for the right job, and that’s the same for canoeing. Paddles are designed for different styles and conditions of canoeing, and choosing the wrong one can make learning to canoe slow and very frustrating.

Different paddles are usually used for different forms of canoeing. For example, the paddle used on flat water will differ from that used in white-water and racing. As a beginner, you will mainly be sticking to flat water paddling, so it is best to stick to a beginner paddle. You will be able to find that in our paddles section here.

Learn the low brace 

If you find yourself in choppy waters, the low brace is a great skill that can help you prevent a capsize, whilst also helping you feel more confident out on the water. It works by using the paddle blade to create pressure against the water.

You can execute the low brace in the following way:

  1. Extend your paddle out at a 90-degree angle from your canoe, with your grip (top) hand in front of your stomach.

  2. Next, smack the water with the backside of the blade. If this is done correctly, your knuckles should be pointing down towards the water.

  3. Now, drop your head towards the paddle shaft whilst using your knees to level out the canoe.

  4. Once you have levelled out the canoe with your knees, swing your head forward over the canoe and resume your stable paddling posture.

Learn how to secure your canoe to your car

This may not be a water skill, but learning to properly attach your canoe to the roof of your car makes you more mobile and allows you to experience a wider range of waterways. Most people aren’t lucky enough to live next to their favourite paddling destination, so transportation is essential to their canoeing adventures.

You can look up different lashing techniques to secure your canoe to your car, or alternatively, take a look at our selection of roof racks here.

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