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Expert Advice Episode 2: Body Frame and Arm Position

In addition to body posture, it’s super important to have the proper grip and arm position. In terms of arm position, you see in the video that you want to make sure that you have a nice open frame with correct upper and lower arm positions.

What you want to do is avoid “breaking” the lower arm, which means bending the elbow and using your arm muscles to pull the paddle through the water. You don’t want to “lever” the paddle. The most strength in the power stroke comes from your large muscles, namely your core, your lats and your back. Your arms, in comparison, are relatively weak and ineffective in moving the boat through the water.

You’ll also want to pay attention to the position of your wrists. Keep them fairly flat and as neutral as possible. Some people bend at their wrist to get a little more reach. This weakens your stroke, and can also lead to injury.

It’s important to move through the stroke as one block with a consistent frame, and avoid “turning” the paddle through the water. “Turning,” as you’ll see in the video, forces the paddle into a negative position very early in the stroke, making your stroke weak and ineffective no matter how hard you pull.

Lastly, you want to put it all together:

  1. Hips tilted slightly forward with squared shoulders (down and back) and a straight spine.
  2. With your upper arm slightly bent and your lower arm straight, you want to hinge forward at the hip to get the paddle forward and down into the water in as positive an angle as possible.
  3. Rotate back through the pull, keeping your frame in shape.
  4. Recover and do it all over again.