pushing on the pegs

When paddling properly for torso rotation do you push the foot peg with the leg opposite the blade that’s in the water and raise the knee on the other leg or is it just the opposite?

For instance, I catch with the right blade, push with the left leg, pull up the knee on the right leg and pull the paddle thru the water.

I had to miss my first paddling class due to illness but I’m going to another later this month. I’ve tried to work on my technique lately and I just don’t want to do it wrong.



Same Side As The Stroke

Driving boat passed the paddle
As Sing noted, same side as wet blade.

now i’m confused…

– Last Updated: Aug-02-05 10:40 AM EST –

I never really thought about which foot is pushing when but I'm sitting here in my office trying out the stroke, I seem to want to push off the opposite leg as the one performing the stroke. When you unwind the stroke and your torso rotates, doesn't your paddle side hip also drop back bringing your opposite side hip/leg/foot closer to the foot pegs?

I'm sure I'd be able to figure it out instantly in a kayak but here in my office, the seed of doubt has been planted.

mee too
I tried both “techniques” the last time out and it seemed to feel better to me and I rotated more (leaning forward, not on the back band) pushing with the opposite leg. I was mimicking the old exercise where you put your hands behind your head and touch the opposite knee with your elbow. You must rotate to do that.

Anyway, it felt better but it got me to thinking about “proper” technique so I thought I’d ask.


A complicated question.
The recommendation most often made (by the ACA, for example) is to push with the foot on the same side as the wet paddle and the major reason for that is that most people find that a natural thing to do. Pushing on the opposite side seems difficult and awkward. But you can teach yourself to do either. So the question is, which is better technique? It is correct that you can get better torso rotation by pushing with the opposite. But I get better tracking and better control of spin momemtum by pushing on the same side. Every forward stroke imparts turning force and this is especially evident in a WW boat. This is countered by the next stroke on the other side and is aided by pushing on that side. Since I am primarily a WW paddler, I push on the same side. But, ironically, when I do a reverse stroke I push with the opposite side and that seems to give me both more rotation and better tracking. I have no idea why.

Body, Boat, Blade. . .

Often times we think so much about torso rotation that we miss the concept of the Body, Boat, Blade connection. If when we put the blade in the water we push with the foot on the same side of the blade it forces us to make a stronger body connection with the blade. It was pointed out to me once to think about planting the blade and then pushing (with your foot) the boat past the blade. The perception being that the blade does not move from where it has been planted, but the boat moves past the blade. In doing this we inadvertently rotate our torso. Which in the end is what we are trying to do.

for what it’s worth. . .

lol, or the opposite perspective
We need to rotate our torsos effectively to moste efficiently plant our blade and propel the kayak forward. In that case, pushing with the opposite leg maximizes torso rotation, which in turn maximizes paddling efficiency.

Honestly, I’m sure I switch between the various techniques although the opposite leg feels “right” sitting here in my chair.


Now you got me thinking too much. . .

I just took a BCU 3 training last weekend and had this same discussion with the coach.

Same side - not opposite side is what I was told. So I did both during the training and noted:

  1. Got plenty of rotation no matter which side used. No difference there.

  2. More leverage and stroke strength with same side foot pedal use. Big difference.

  3. Reverse stroke seemed to track better with opposite side to a small degree. It seemed to be affected more by my shift of balance maybe affecting the amount the chines were in the water.

    I think you get added benefit to your paddling no matter which side you use, but as mentioned, I paddled stronger with same side. No matter which side though, it helped with lower body circulation.

Only one way,

– Last Updated: Aug-02-05 12:10 PM EST –

If one is pursuing a proper and efficient forward stroke, one must push on the same side as the stroke. Period.



Convinced me, Ice

large muscle groups
If you want an efficient paddle stroke you should use as much of your large muscles as possible. It all starts out with initiating the stroke by pushing with the foot which rotates the hips and helps turn your torso. You can get a great full body workout if you want to. I usually apply upward pressure with opposite knee during the stroke that adds more muscles to the stroke. It all depends on how efficient you want to be.

Twist vs. Rotation
If you use opposite side foot pressure you are twisting, not rotating. People padded out to the extreme may not notice a differnence because all thay can do is twist anyway. For everyone else, it should matter.

Picture your butt on a swiveling seat and it should become obvious. Rotation is from the hips.

Same side push straightens that leg and makes hip move back through stroke on that side. Other side knee bends and hip on that side pivots forward giving you a little bit more forward catch. It’s more than just torso twist. Together you get some useful leg power, more unwinding, and a slightly longer stroke up front where the power is.

what does HE know!



I’m a small woman, and if I don’t push on the foot peg on the same side of my wet paddle, there’s no way I can keep up with the big guys. When I do push, I can much faster, for much longer–it seems as if nearly all of the power in my stroke comes from the foot peg pushing.

Exactly. Same side. Period.
It’s all one motion – winding and unwinding the hips; alternately straightening and unstraightening the legs.

When you wind to the (say) left, your right hip goes forward, so your right knee bends to accomodate the shortened distance. When you unwind from left to right, you straighten the right leg as you do, pushing on the right footpeg to transmit power to the boat.

Sorry to be so certain, but if you are pushing on the opposite side, then you are not, by definition, powering from hip rotation. And if you aren’t doing that, you aren’t paddling in the most efficient form.

Hmmm… so what are you doing when you push with the opposite foot? I’d have to get in a boat to be sure, but I think you are just exerting wasted energy You may feel like there’s something efficient going on, but it’s not mechanically possible.


I tried it with my SpeedStroke
No way no how, I was able to rotate pushing the opposite side.


The Brent Reitz forward stroke video says to push on the opposite side. This was counter-intuitive at first but now feels natural and for me promotes decent rotation.

Not sure this has any relevance
If not, call me dumb. When you throw a ball with your right hand, as you bring the ball back, your left foot moves forward (and vice versa for lefties). I used to pitch a little (good speed, tenuous control of the curve) and it seems that this may have some relevance to kayak strokes.