Draw Stroke

A side draw stroke is used to move the kayak sideways from a stationary position. It is useful when rafting up, when pulling in to a landing spot such as a wharf, approaching a capsized kayak, or to pick up something floating in the water. 

There are two main side draw strokes, a feathered draw (also called a ‘T’ side draw) and a sculling draw. A sculling draw can be sustained longer and provides more support than a feathered draw. The feathered draw is the more powerful of the two, particularly when applied with grunt.

Feathered Draw Sculling draw Tips Mistakes Practice 

Feathered draw - also called 'T' side-draw

The feathered draw stroke can be broken down to 4 phases.

  1. Setup
  2. Draw
  3. Twist
  4. Slice


  • Rotate your torso so your body and head are facing the direction to which you want to move your kayak.
  • The bottom hand is the working hand and will control the placement of the working blade through all phases of the stroke.
  • The top hand acts solely as a fulcrum at about eye-height.


  • Extend the working arm out to the side of the kayak and fully immerse the blade in the water with the power face towards you and parallel to the kayak. 
  • Draw the blade through the water towards your hip with your bottom hand. Keep looking at the object you are moving your kayak towards, and maintain your body rotation. 
  • If you are unable to keep the top hand steady during the stroke, rest the back of your hand on your forehead. 
  • Finish drawing before your paddle comes in contact with the side of the kayak.
  • If your kayak “trips” over the shaft at the end of the draw, let go of the paddle with your top hand to avoid capsize.


  • Twist the working blade so that it is at right angles to your kayak by rotating the wrist on the working hand inwards.
  • Take a slight pause after the twist in order to let the kayak’s momentum finish. This will also allow you to maintain better control of the working blade during the next phase, the slice.


  • Slice the blade back to the start position for your next draw.

Repeat the sequence until you have reached where you want to go.

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