How to Hold a Canoe Paddle

Photo: Spencer Watson / Unsplash

Holding a canoe paddle might seem like an extremely easy technique to learn. One could conclude that it would be ridiculous to even write an article about it. That doesn’t change the fact that most people hold a canoe paddle wrong which causes a loss of power during the forward stroke. It also places the canoeist’s body in an awkward paddling position.

Check out these steps to make sure you do this simple yet crucial task of holding your canoe paddle properly.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Just Seconds

Here’s How:

  1. Place The Top Hand on the Canoe Paddle: The top hand grabs the handle on top of the paddle. When the paddle is oriented vertically, the back of the top hand will be facing upward. The stem of the paddle should be between the four fingers of the top hand.
  2. Place the Bottom Hand on the Canoe Paddle: Grab the paddle with the lower arm’s hand on the throat of the paddle. When the paddle is held out horizontally the paddler’s arms should be holding the canoe paddle wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Learn the Forward Stroke: Now that you know how to hold a canoe paddle, it’s time to learn the canoe forward stroke.


  • The lower arm and grip is used to hold the canoe paddle and is the one generating most of the power.
  • The upper arm and grip used to hold the canoe paddle create the balance and accuracy of the stroke.
  • People most frequently use both hands to grab the paddle like they would grab an ax. Be sure to have your top hand on top of the paddle.

What You Need:

  • Canoe Paddle