Draw strokes

Several years ago, when I took basic kayaking skills classes, we were taught to “draw to the hip” as follows

  1. Rotate to face the direction you want to travel - say 90 degrees to the boat.
  2. Stack the hands on the paddle
  3. Extend the paddle out, power face parallel to the boat
  4. Draw towards your hip, while raising that side of the boat some - edging away from the blade slightly
  5. Recover the stroke under water with the blade perpendicular to the boat and again draw towards the boat.

    That has worked well for me

    Recently, at a day of skills with a very experienced coach (both sea and whitewater) we were shown a different draw stroke - one which I had not seen before. It starts the same as listed above, with steps #1 and #2. However, the active part of the draw was much more dramatic and aggressive.

    He had us edge the boat towards the paddle, lean far over (past the balance position) and draw hard with the onside arm right at the waterline - from hand to elbow. When the blade comes to the boat, you hip-snap back to a balanced position. It feels almost like a very deep high brace but one where you are not just bracing to recover, but drawing hard through the water towards the boat.

    We did it stationary but also on the move. It took me a few tries to trust the support I was getting and truly commit to the off-balance position while drawing but the support is huge. I really liked this move. As for the application - It is not as smooth and elegant as the draw-to-the-chip I described first but if you really have to move over fast, it has some power to it.

    I wonder if others have seen of used it, and if you think it could have come from the whitewater side of paddling?


the draw has a huge brace component and I ALWAYS teach folks to edge towards the stroke. Opens up reach, rotation and is more dynamic.

ww/fw it’s all the same.


The bracing component was a huge revelation for me. It feels great and give me much more confidence


I do this
I use that technique sometimes, but am more likely to just use a sculling draw for some reason.

I too
like the sculling draw for more gentle side movement. We also worked on hanging draws - these are so cool when you nail them just right. Great for on-the-move side slipping


I try it both ways
But for me in my boat, the boat moves much, much better when I edge away from the movement. If I edge into the direction of movement, I feel more stable, but I also feel like I’m dragging the entire ocean with me. By edging away, the boat glides over the surface, but without much support.

I also much prefer the sculling draw. It seems more efficient since I’m getting power in both directions.

Sculling seems more appropriate if you are trying to move a fair amount of distance. The advantage is that the paddle is (almost) always moving the boat. The sculling draw is nice because you can continualy adjust the boat movement.

The standard draw seems more appropriate if you need to quickly move the boat a short distance since you can apply much more power (fast) han with a scull.

Yes, 20202, most of my whitewater
boats will move better in response to a draw if I raise the edge on the same side as the draw. There are cases where one might lean the boat the other way, as when hanging on a high brace while arcing a turn.

I suspect that the other method is taught for sea kayaking because the shape of sea kayaks does not make them all that willing to move sideways to a draw, and so a really radical reach and committment may be necessary. I think that raising, rather than lowering, the draw-side edge of most sea kayaks would not make them respond more easily. Different stroke for different boats.

Another Vote for the Sculling Draw
Guess I’m just another Numb Scull…

Why not mix it up?

– Last Updated: Aug-14-08 8:27 AM EST –

When we were prepping for the 3 star, the guy that we were working with indicated that we should experiment with lifting either edge because different boats may respond better to different edges being up. (I should note that he is someone who did long boating as well as WW, a background which we only fully appreciated later on when we started doing some WW.) When I practice now (too infrequently), I still always try out both edges.

As to whether to scull or the other, my sculling draw is way better in form than what I tend to do when I just put the paddle out and pull straight in. So often for getting over to the side, that'll be my better choice. However, I have needed the latter because the sculling draw wouldn't have been fast or compact enough at least twice in sea kayaking. Once was when I was going thru a slot between a rock and a wall and read the waves a little wrong, so I had to draw quick or end up having a sharp encounter with the rock wall. The other was when I had to get into a standing wave in a tidal spot - couldn't see the thing so just had to draw into it on the coach's orders.

The only thing I remember about the edge is that I should have committed more of it between the rock and the wall - as I exited I realized I had been working harder than necessary on the actual draw. Probably either edge would have worked, maybe the edge near the wet blade would have been easier.