GP and Torso rotation

-- Last Updated: Jun-28-05 2:50 PM EST --

With my Euro paddle, I have to consciously think about applying torso rotation. (I imagine my navel pointing to the center of the paddle). Unfortunately, it's easy for me when tired or lazy, to ignor this tip and use mainly arm muscles. Yet with my GP paddle, torso rotation seems like second nature and a natural intergal part of my stroke, without thinking about it. Is this a recognized benefit of using a GP or is it just me, in this case?

Some would argue
that the greenland paddle inherintly offers better technique, I find I have to focus equally with both the modern paddle and the traditional paddle on rotating my torso.

You may just innately have the talent and knack for torso rotation.

Legs get left behind
I noticed and welcomed the accentuated GP torso rotation as well, but seem to have lost the thrust required to drive my feet into the pegs. Anyone have a remedy for this?

Paddle harder and go faster. If you want good leg drive you need to me going fast enough to engage the whole body. Under 5mph my “technique” tends to get sloppy (which then conspires to keep me under 5 mph!). Around 5 it takes care of itself. Below that I have to pay more attention to it or pay later with fatigue and related maladies. Slow paddling is not very good forward stroke work. Either is short distance unless you’re practicing sprints.

Maybe I’m weird, but my more leisurely day paddles whip my but just as much as harder/longer paddles and occasional races.

If you have arm power left when you get tired - you’re not REALLY tired.

How far do you paddle? Add more miles and your arms should give out enough that they force you into better ab and leg use. When I first started paddling (euro then) I would go until I got tired - then paddle back. Might be considered doing things the hard way, but it really helped weed out a lot of arm paddling.

I also find the rotation a bit more natural feeling with GP - but I think it’s mostly because of the narrower grip and hands being a bit closer to the torso. Arm paddling is harder to do with a properly sized loom and (narrower) grip on the blade roots. The rotation itself is less apparent to observers though, as there is some twist combined with some crunch (lever is being worked closer to the water - as evidenced by both closer hand position and hand often being in or near the water) as compared to a more visible vertical spine twist rotation seen with EP/Wings. Fairly subtle things though - and should not be read as being a large difference. A pretty textbook wing stroke also powers a GP quite well.

If your abs/back feel most worked after paddling (with any paddle), then legs, shoulders, and arms - the load is being distributed well. If you feel it more in arms and shoulders - you are missing out on a lot of midsection power and endurance.

effiicient paddling
I find that using a greenland paddle allows me to use good technique and it feels natural. When the submerged pulling blade is being pulled and the top hand is pushing down and acroos the deck it seems to initiate a natural body roation. When paddling into the wind I find a slight stomach crunch during the stroke also feels natural and adds to the paddling efficiency.

The legs should be initiating the stroke but it sounds like you aren’t getting enough bite from your stroke to make effective. Are you using a shouldered greenland paddle and a canted stroke? I find that by using the canted stroke I am able to get all the bite I want from my paddle stroke and effectively use my entire body to power the stroke.

I use a Tooksook
which requires a low stroke like a GP. I tend to paddle in a series of alternating oblique crunches. Once in the rhythm I feel like I can go on for mile after mile.

Torso is fully involved,
Arms are just there to hold the paddle up. 12 miles is a nice stretch for me, after which the only thing sore or tired is my lower back. If I force my legs to get involved, my pace picks up past 5mph but my back cries uncle sooner. I just started bicycling to work for the season today, hopefully that’ll strengthen my back?

Low Stroke…
not “required.” More personal preference. I tend to use a shorter paddle and high stroke more, both with Euro and GP.


I’m also a high angle paddler for both GP and Euro. It just seems more efficient to me.

oddly enough
I have tried experimenting with both the super high angle and the extreme low angle. But I wonder if the entry of the paddle into the water might negate this low/high angle thing with the greenland paddle. You can still keep your arms fairly low if you punch down deep on the first part of the stroke with the blade angled slightly forward right. Does anyone else do this?

High and Low
Since your hands are fairly close together and your arms stay somewhat close to your sides with a GP, I find that regardless of whether I use a very high paddle-shaft angle or a low stroke, that my hands stay fairly low (rarely going above my eyes for a high stroke in a sprint, and rising to about shoulder level or lower for a more relaxed touring stroke).

I usually punch down deep and fast to get the blade buried. Only then do I apply full power.

Most Greenlanders that I observed hold the paddle-shaft at about a 45 degree angle for touring and almost vertical for sprinting.

Greg Stamer

yeah this
sounds about like what I am doing. But I’ve been trying to focus a little better on only applying power when the blade is completely sunk. And I am finding that having my knuckles rolled forward slightly helps slice the blade in cleanly does this sound right?

I keep my wrists fairly flat and allow the canted blade to naturally slice into the water on the catch. That said, I have a number of different catches that I use – sometimes with the blade slicing straight in and sometimes with the blade following a curved path as it is drawn into the water. I also sometimes play with the wing technique of “spearing the salmon” (a lateral thrust of the paddle into the water with your upper hand).

However, from watching the videos of Maligiaq on Qajaq USA, I note that he rolls the wrist of his pushing hand forward during his forward stroke. He’s the only one that I see doing this – but if Maligiaq is doing it you are in good company! ;^)

I listen to the paddle and my body. I figure as long as you are getting a clean, quiet catch, zero flutter, with the paddle feeling “solidly planted” (yes, even with a GP), and no injuries, your technique must be pretty good (but the forward stroke is ALWAYS open for improvement).

Greg Stamer

Clean catch etc.
I have always found that sound is very useful for cleaning up stroke with a Euro paddle. The quieter the better, and both sides should match sound. Recently I began paddling with a GP and the same thing applies. The difference is that with Euro, I could get a very quiet catch but never totally soundless. With GP, I can get a silent catch.

The exit always makes some sound, though.

I think this clean entry and deep catch
has helped my stroke. Doug helped me with it at symposium this year, I would like to see that in an updated video on forward stroke!