Stop planting your paddle


When you want to catch and/or peel out of an eddy, plant your paddle and swing around it.

If you’ve received this advice I encourage you to disregard it, and if you give this instruction to other paddlers, please stop.

There is no ‘swinging around your paddle.’

If you’re planting your paddle without activating your blade then you’re just waiting for something to happen, and putting yourself at the mercy of the water and the eddy line. You’re drifting and hoping something good will happen.

What typically happens is that you get carried away by the current, trip over your paddle, and/or end up hanging out on the eddy line too long.

It’s time to stop planting your paddle and start trusting your edges.

This is a key piece of instruction that helps my paddling clients maneuver with more control, which in turn builds their confidence. I get them to stop planting, wishing and hoping, and start trusting their edges instead.

When they come in or out of an eddy I have them take a few effective strokes across the eddy line, hold their paddle in front of them and focus on edging into their turn. Although it may appear as though they are waiting for something to happen in this position, they’re actually working with the river in a much more efficient and effective way than planting the paddle and trying to swing around it.

Work smarter not harder

Paddlers like the paddle plant because they think they’re doing a bow draw, and they’ve been taught that the bow draw is the way to enter and peel out of eddies.

For one, I’m always surprised at how few paddlers actually understand how to perform an effective bow draw, and two, you don’t need a bow draw to perform an effective eddy turn or peel out.

The important pieces are angle, managing your momentum, vision and edge.

It’s so simple and clean, AND if you want to build confidence in your paddling, feeling strong with your edge control will go a lot further than trying to use a fancy stroke that you don’t totally understand. In the video below you’ll see an example of an s-turn without the plant.


If you’re wondering how to stop planting and start building confidence in your edging, join me for Find Your Flow Week: Class II-III Week of Rivers and Yoga July 7 th – 13th. You’ll spend 5 days working on effective technique and mental agility that will take your paddling to the next level. The week includes daily yoga, catered farm to table dinners by a private chef, video review, and instruction. Click Here to learn more and register!