Sweep Stroke

Forward and reverse sweep strokes are used to turn the kayak. These strokes are very effective when stationary and you can also adapt them to change course while on the move.

Technique   Tips Safety  Common mistakes Practice drills


Forward sweep

  • Maintain your normal hand position on the paddle.
  • Rotate your torso so you can plant the working blade as far forward as possible.
  • Fully immerse the working blade, then take it smoothly through a wide arc from the bow to the stern, using a combination of torso rotation and a straight (slightly relaxed) working arm.
  • The hand of the non-working arm, positioned mid torso, acts as a fulcrum. Keep it in the same position relative to your body throughout the stroke (see Tips if you have limited torso rotation). 
  • Press your foot on the working side firmly against the foot brace to maximise the power transfer.
  • Your knee on the working side will be bent at the start of the stroke. Straighten it progressively.
  • Keep the working blade fully immersed throughout the stroke.  

Reverse sweep

  • This is basically the reverse of the forward sweep.
  • In this stroke, rotate your torso so you can plant the working blade as far back as possible.
  • Use the back of the blade. Do not change your hand position. 
  • It is counter-productive to push with your foot on the same side as the stroke when reverse sweeping.
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