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High or Low Angle Paddle Stroke

High or Low angle paddle stroke

  • High Angle

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Low Angle

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Varies

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Whats a paddle stroke?

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Nov 11, 2009
Tuff City
Just curious, about prefered paddling styles. Not claiming any is better or worse, just curious.

High-Angle stroke, or Low-Angle stroke.

Me: Low-angle
Good poll question.

I curious to know why paddlers choose one or the other.

High-angle for me. I've used a wingblade for a few trips this year. I like to have a low-angle paddle as my spare while touring, so I can alternate to use my muscles and joints in a different way, and hopefully reduce repetitive strain.
I use a high angle when I am trying to move faster, usually only to accelerate. It requires more arm strength and so isn't efficient.

A low angle is used to keep the boat stable when the water is rough. The efficiency goes down too.

Usually though I work at an efficient forward stroke. The angle doesn't concern much; its a function of body height above the water and the length of the paddle.
High angle with elbow lower than racing style usually. My boat has lots of rocker, so high angle help keep it going more straight. also, my paddle usually is within 12NM in a day, and I really have no shoulder problem at the end of the day, so I keep that style.
ken_vandeburgt said:
I use a high angle when I am trying to move faster, usually only to accelerate. It requires more arm strength and so isn't efficient.

If you believe that a high angle stroke requires more arm strength to power up your stroke I can see why you would think it is inefficient. You could not be further from the truth young padawan.

To power up ANY stroke you need to focus on your core. Pushing off your foot peg with your foot, driving that energy up through your kinetic chain and through your core, unwinding the loaded spring that is your body into a rotational movement that pushes your boat past the point in the water where your paddle is anchored.

The paddle stroke is not a pull movement, it is a push. Keeping your extremities out in front of you in as straight an arm as possible without being completely locked will transfer that force efficiently from the water to your boat. Force likes to travel in straight lines - it makes for efficient movement, reduces muscular fatigue and reduces the risk of injury.

Another way to landmark your stroke - any time your paddle makes noise or splashes, you are losing efficiency and wasting energy. Anytime you are pulling with your arms you will notice that your paddle makes WAY more noise and splashes about more.

This is all true no matter what stroke you use - high, mid or low angle.

So in answer to the above poll, I don't qualify my stroke into high, low etc etc. I qualify my stroke as being the most efficient to use for the conditions I am in.

(note - most people who know me WOULD qualify that I use a high angle stroke most of the time)
Ken B said:
My stroke will vary.
I primarily use a Greenland Paddle, and like to vary/change my grip distance and angle.


If I'm using a Euro (25% of the time) I tend towards a higher angle.
Seems like a few years back - folks were more divided - preferring one or the other... And I used to be in the low angle camp.

But nowadays I'm same as a lot of responders, I vary from high to low depending on what I'm trying to do. I have found that even my 205 cm Ikelos can be paddled more or less low angle, when I'm in that mood. And I vary my stick paddling from high to low also. Although on the sticks high angle aggressive paddling has always been a test for keeping good form.

Cheers, Mike
The paddle stroke is not a pull movement, it is a push.

MikeC, I agree with everything you said but the push statement. When you drive the stroke with torso rotation then pulling and pushing or pushing and pulling are a result of the torso rotation. Emphasizing one or the other just changes the stroke from torso driven to something else. There is a slight movement of the upper hand to straighten the arm bent as a result of withdrawing the paddle blade but I think it is more of a reach than a push or maybe another adjective.

High vs low - depends

Just my two cents worth...

MikeC is referring to a push, not from the arms but from the feet.

Try it. Get in your boat, assume a proper paddlers box position.
Now lock your arms so they will not move.
Step on your foot peg aggressively whilst relaxing the other leg and your body will rotate. Your stroke is done with no movement of your arms.
A benefit is you are now totally set up for the next stroke. Spear the water and give the other peg a solid push. Your hip on that side will move backward unwinding your body.

If you maintain the locked position with your arms you will tire very quickly, but it will show you if you are indeed paddling with core muscles rather than your arms. If your elbow has bent into a chicken wing position you are using arms.

Once you have that... relax the arms and your off. There will be some movement of the arms a little push and a little pull, but more for an extra kick.
Pay attention to the angle your blade exits the water. With solid rotation it is vertical ( euroblade ) with next to no splash. GP will have a finishing kick ( if used ) that does splash a bit.