Draw stroke torso rotation

“Paddle Your Own Canoe” describes the rotation element of the draw stroke as turning to your onside first, planting the paddle, then performing the power phase by unwinding your torso towards the bow.

This direction of rotation seems right for the pry stroke but counterintuitive to the draw because the onside shoulder and shaft hand move outward/forward rather then inward/backward while the offside shoulder and grip hand move inward/backward rather than outward/forward. Indeed, the book’s description of the pry’s direction of torso rotation during the power phase is the same as again the onside shoulder moves forward and the offside shoulder moves backward.

These strokes have relatively small torso rotations, but wouldn’t it be better to rotate TOWARDS your onside during the power phase of the draw and unwind during recovery?

I don’t unwind my torso much until the
paddle blade is in danger of getting stuck against the bow, and I slice it out.

Even good authors sometimes have odd notions. Thinking even more about it, I can’t see at all why unwinding toward the bow would be relevant.

Here’s how I interpret it

– Last Updated: Nov-01-13 12:34 AM EST –

Like g2d, I don't believe I actually put much torso twist into that stroke, BUT, I can see the logic in their explanation.

First, in preparation for an ordinary draw, you do want to reach out and "stack your hands" to keep the paddle shaft close to vertical. How are you going to reach out the same distance with your top hand as with your bottom hand unless you twist your torso toward the side you are reaching to? In addition, once you've twisted in that direction in order to to stack your hands, how are you going to continue to twist even farther in that same direction to pull the paddle toward you? Reversing the twist is the only option available. Further, if you you COULD twist so far to your on side that it facilitated pulling the blade back to you, you'd be bringing the paddle shaft back toward the boat behind your body, which is well behind the centerpoint of the canoe, causing the stern to be drawn more than the bow.

Naturally there are various adjustments and subtleties applicable to an endless variety of situations which will determine where you want the draw to take place relative to the centerpoint of the boat, and you may at times want to pull the draw toward a point that is behind you, but I don't see how twisting toward your off side can make it easier to reach the same distance with both hands toward your on side in preparation for planting the blade.

Off the subject slightly, I do see how an onside twist could aid the stern paddler of a tandem canoe, as in that situation, it may be advantageous to pull the paddle toward the stern of the canoe rather than toward their knees. However, in that situation the stern paddler's stroke would combine a sweep and draw to best get the job done, and the bow paddler doing the analogous maneuver (not necessarily at the same time as the stern paddler draws of course, but in any situation where they want to efficiently move the bow sideways) would want to twist away from their on side while applying power, to put the drawing action closer to their end of the canoe, the bow. So while the stern paddler might want to "break the rule", the bow paddler usually would want to do it with the same type of rotation as the authors described for solo paddling.

I think I agree with you . . .

– Last Updated: Nov-01-13 12:37 AM EST –

... if I understand correctly.

(Edit: my comments relate to a solo paddler seated near the center of a canoe.)

The lateral side draw is primarily an arm leverage stroke, not a torso rotation (winding and unwinding) stroke. You pull your shaft hand in toward the canoe and push outward somewhat with your grip hand. Watch Bill Mason at about 13:10 of his classic instructional film:


Of course, you can also do a bow draw and stern draw in addition to a lateral side draw.

You could do a bow draw with rigid arms and torso rotation toward the bow, I suppose, but that would seem robotic and unnatural to me.

You will need to twist your torso to initiate the stern draw, but you would not be unwinding your torso toward the bow during the power phase of a stern draw. Again, it's mainly an arm leverage stroke, perhaps with some further torso rotation toward the stern.

This is one of the many paddling things that are easier to do in a canoe than to practice in one's bedroom with an imaginary paddle or to explain with words.

This adds perspective to my post
My main point wasn’t so much about using torso rotation to apply power to the draw. What I WAS trying to point out is that preparing for the draw requires you to twist toward your paddle side, not away from it, that is, unless you don’t want the paddle shaft to be vertical when planted. And once you’ve twisted in that fashion, you won’t be twisting farther (which would be necessary if performing the stroke according to the OP’s supposed preference).

my point
I don’t consider further twisting towards the back as an option either. I meant that if you think that torso rotation is involved in the power phase of the draw stroke (although GMG convinced me otherwise) and that you don’t want to twist more towards the stern, then a rotation opposite to the one used in the pry stroke strikes me as more helpful.

I don’t (think I) have trouble drawing, but am puzzled by this apparant contradiction. As GMG suggests, this stroke doesn’t use torso rotation and I believe it. g2d’s comment of “not until the paddle lade is in danger of getting stuck against the bow” seems to agree with my hunch to use unwinding during the recovery phase, not the power phase as suggested in the book.

There’s just not torso rotation in every stroke. I thought I had read that somewhere.

What kind of draw?
I don’t have that book so I can’t comment on the authors’ specific suggestions in this case. But as was pointed out, there are lots of draw strokes: abeam draws, sculling draws, static or “hanging” draws, draws done in the bow quadrant, and draws done in the stern quadrant.

Draw strokes done directly abeam require torso rotation to place the blade optimally, but then the torso remains in that rotated position, as shown in the Mason video Glenn referenced. But draws done abeam are facilitated by using the trunk muscles to pull the hips toward the blade rather than just pulling the paddle towards the boat.

Sculling draws done abeam really benefit from bidirectional torso rotation. Sure, they can be done using only the arms but you can generate a lot more power if you follow the sculling blade with your shoulders.

Draws done in the bow quadrant are facilitated by rotating the torso toward the onside during the placement, and rotating back toward the bow during the power phase. Draws done in the stern quadrant require considerable torso rotation toward the onside during blade placement, but are facilitated by even more rotation toward the onside during the power phase.

Static draws require torso rotation to place the blade, but then the arms are used to brace the paddle against the rotated torso. The torso might not actively rotate during the draw, but the trunk muscles are contracted isometrically to prevent the paddle from moving out of position.

On further review…

– Last Updated: Nov-01-13 12:28 PM EST –

Well, I read your statement more carefully and I think I see two problems with it. In regard to starting out turned toward your on side but then twisting back, you say:

"the onside shoulder and shaft hand move outward/forward rather then inward/backward while the offside shoulder and grip hand move inward/backward rather than outward/forward."

For the first half of that statement, that could only be true if the paddle is alongside the shoulder no matter which direction you face, just as can be the case when facing forward with the paddle at your side. But if you turn to face your on side, positioning the paddle directly out from your body places it forward of your shoulder, not alongside it, so it actually moves forward and inward when you unwind, not "outward /forward" as you say.

For the second half of that statement, while that shoulder you speak of moves inward and backward, the grip hand which is reaching out over the water moves inward and forward.

The problem in both cases is that each arm reaches out in a direction which is on a different radius than the shoulder which supports it, thus, each hand is within a different quadrant of the same wheel than the shoulder which supports it. You could also think of the shoulder and arm/hand as being two different spokes on the same wheel, since a radius drawn from hand-to-hub is at a different location than one drawn from shoulder-to-hub. You could draw a top profile view of a paddler with both arms extended to meet at the same point (stacked vertically on a paddle shaft) on the face of a wheel and rotate that wheel, and see that each hand, and the shoulder each is attached to, never move in the same direction at the same time. Thus, the direction of shoulder movement during torso rotation is not what defines the direction of paddle movement. Not in this case anyway.

I don't disagree with the idea that applying rotation to the draw stroke may be far more idealized than what actually happens for most people in real life, but I DO disagree with your geometrical assessment of what is happening in the event that torso rotation is applied.

Are you primarily a kayaker? The blade of a kayak paddle, extending out from the body with the shaft remaining in-line with the axis of the shoulders, would fit your assessment of what's happening. The blade of a canoe paddle that's held vertically at some location other than a line passing through one's shoulders does not fit that assessment.

I have the book, and…
… the pictures do show a draw by means of first facing toward the water, then “unwinding” to face forward. With the hands basically facing forward of the body, this brings the paddle toward the boat. It’s a plain draw, like what you might do when sitting stationary and wanting to move the boat sideways. There are no dynamic, flowing-water interactions with the blade as there would be when the boat is moving forward, so wedging, hanging draws and the like are not applicable.

And again, the stroke they show is highly idealized, and likely not that realistic for most people.

regular abeam draw
of a solo paddler. No static, hanging, sculling, bow or stern draw.

I don’t think I use much or any torso “unwinding” during the power phase of a simple, dynamic draw abeam. I think I do it pretty much as Bruce Lessels does in this video: http://www.ehow.com/video_2350559_do-abeam-maneuver-canoeing.html

Bruce does mention elevating the “side of opposition”, although he doesn’t use that term.

The one time when I might use a bit of unwinding torso rotation during the power phase of a lateral draw abeam would be when doing a very vigorous draw and emphasizing pulling the boat to the blade with the hips, as I mentioned earlier. I say I might, because I’m really not sure, I would have to try it and see. I suspect I would if I intended to follow a draw with a forward stroke, since one has to rotate back to plant the blade. I’m not sure I would if I were doing multiple draws.

You are describing
a Bow Draw for a solo canoe, not a Solo Draw. In the Solo Bow Draw one uses a good deal of torso rotation. In the Solo Draw, very little rotation is needed.