Reverse sweep + lower body

what do people do with their lower body and/or core when doing a reverse sweep?

I have been refining how I perform the stroke and teach it, which has lead me to a lot of questions. I wanted to get an idea of how other people performed the stroke to see if I am way off base about something.

I hike one leg out of the cockpit, and
lever that paddle around with my size 15 foot.

Semi-seriously, though, the rotation is going to be distributed between the hip joints and the upper torso. Most of us are wedged in tight enough that we can’t rotate anything lower than that. In my whitewater canoes, I deliberately use “loose” outfitting, so that in a really severe reverse sweep or cross bow sweep, I can shift one or another of my knees so as to re-calibrate the range of my torso twist.

I was thinking more along the lines of what people with their legs/feet. With the forward stroke and sweep most people drive their leg/feet (usually corresponding with the blade that it is in the water).

So is there anything like that going on when you do a reverse sweep?


– Last Updated: Apr-12-08 6:51 PM EST –

Don't think about sweeping the paddle. Think about planting the paddle and trying to sweep your toes around to meet it. Thinking about it that way moves your focus away from your arms.

Angstrom thanks for the blurb
’sweeping the toes around’. I am always looking for new snippets to tell students to help solidify concepts.

Here is why I was asking…

For a reverse sweep on the right I plant the blade, rotate my torso around to the right (trying to look at the stern grab loop of my kayak). Obviously, there would be some edging going on here too. Then, I think ‘pull’ with me knee. Pulling with my right knee would seem to be more effective (in the same way that driving the right foot on a forward sweep is thought to be more effective than driving the left foot), but feels less stable. So I pull with my left knee, it feels similar to doing a crunch and touching my left elbow to my left knee. My feet don’t come off the foot pegs, but I am certainly not applying any pressure to them.

I just wanted to get input on how other people do it to see if they do something similar with their knees (or toes). I have input from instructor-types, but I wanted input from people who’s background I didn’t know.

The feet/lower legs can be used in many
strokes in much the same manner as angstrom points out. Check out Gordon Brown’s book, ‘Sea Kayak’.

I am not asking how to do it
I am asking how ‘you’ do it. Sorry for not being clear.

I’ve helped teach a beginning whitewater class each spring for the last couple of years. We start on flatwater. For the forward stroke, I try to have students think about planting the blade and pulling the boat past it. For sweeps, I try to have them think about rotating, dropping the blade in next to the hull, and then twisting their toes towards or away from the blade.

With a whitewater boat it’s easy to see that the boat pivots more than the blade moves. I don’t know how well that’d work in a touring boat.

One thing I like doing in my Avocet are low brace/reverse sweep turns with a lot of lean. When I’m committed to the paddle, and more horizontal than vertical, doing a "crunch’ or “leg-lift” really helps pull the bow around towards the blade.