How to paddle a canoe

How to paddle a canoe

If you are looking for a way to get your family together on the water, learn how to paddle a canoe. They are traditional by design and adaptable to many different adventures.

If it’s your first time, there are a few things you should know about how to paddle a canoe. To save you time trawling through the internet, we’ve put all those useful hints and tips in one article here.

How to paddle a canoe – 7 tips

  1. Balance the boat. The best way to find your balance point is to sit in the boat and get a feel for it. Move around, see how the canoe reacts and learn from it. Generally, the balance point will be around the middle of the canoe.
  2. Look to the future, where are you wanting to go? When you’re paddling, choose a point to aim for and follow your nose. If you look where you’re heading, the canoe will follow.
  3. Start in first gear like you’re driving a car. Small, delicate strokes will help to get the boat moving under control. Once you’re comfortable in first, work through the gears to build up power.
  4. Don’t let your belly go to jelly. Keep tension across your core;  it will help you sit up and transfer the effort from your arms to your chest.
  5. Opposites attract. Even the best canoeists use the other side to get the boat to where they want to be. Don’t get hung up on always paddling on one side. Swap sides occasionally and see how the canoe reacts.
  6. Steer at the rear. Once the paddle is past you it is not pushing you forwards, but it can help point you where you want to go. Use it like a rudder and experiment to see how to canoe turns on different sides.
  7. Go with the flow. Let the boat run between the strokes. You don’t have to be paddling frantically all the time!  

Don’t forget, the best way to learn how to paddle a canoe is to do it. If you’re not confident enough to head out on your own, take a look at Paddle Awards to get you started on your canoeing journey!

Paddling trails. Differences between a kayak and a canoe

Find UK paddling trails

If you like your paddling routes delivered ready-meal easy, then you need Go Paddling Paddle Trails. Ready packaged, easy to ...
Paddle-Ability Clubs. Disabled child entering kayak.

Find local paddle-ability providers

On this page you will find UK-wide clubs and providers that offer dedicated support for paddlers with a disability. This ...
paddling clubs

Find local paddling clubs: UK wide

Paddling clubs can teach you new canoeing skills, kayaking skills, or SUP skills. They are a great way of learning ...
Find a paddling centre. Kids at a paddling centre.

Find local paddling centres

Paddling centres offer a range of exciting paddling experiences for beginners and refreshers. These can be anything from taster sessions ...
Find a Start or Discover course

Find paddling course providers

If you are looking for a fun way to learn to paddle then you need a Start, Discover, or Explore ...
Find a paddling equipment hire centre.

Paddling equipment hire

When you start out you may not be ready to dive straight in and buy the gear you need. Paddling ...