How to Steer and Paddle a Canoe : How to do a J Leaning Stroke in Canoeing

How to Steer and Paddle a Canoe : How to do a J Leaning Stroke in Canoeing

In any kind of a boat in white water, but
especially in a solo white water canoe, you want to be able to lean your boat independently
of your upper body. That means keeping your upper body in good balance while you’re leaning
your boat in whatever direction with whatever amount of lean you want. The way to do that
is call a J lean. It’s a called a J lean because that’s the shape that your body takes when
you’re doing it. So a J lean looks like this. If you notice my upper body is staying centered
over the boat while my lower body is leaning the boat smoothly to the left hand side. The
trick here is I’m pushing down on one knee. In this case, my left knee pulling up on my
right knee. By that opposing force, I can lean my boat as much or as little as I want.
The other trick is learning the amount you can lean your boat and that depends on the
boat a lot. This particular boat seems to have a nice point stability right about here,
so it’s nice and easy to J lean into this point and I can sit up here in balance with
no paddle to support my lean. I’ve got a nice smooth lean and I can do whatever I want with
my upper body. I can lean forward or back, I could do whatever sort of movements I want
with my upper body. Indpendently of my lower body. So practice J leaning to your left and
to your right. It’s especially important to get comfortable J leaning away from your paddle
because this is a vulnerable side for open canoeist and for solo open canoeist especially.
Leaning away from your paddle can be just concerning because you have no easy brace
over there. A good way to practice this is to do a drill where you paddle around in circles
leaning left or right and changing your direction without changing your lean. So you get comfortable
with leaning toward the turn, inside the turn, as well as leaning outside the turn. That
looks like this. I’m going to start out leaning toward my paddle so I can turn away from my
paddle and maintain the same lean. Then I can switch the lean and I can turn toward
my paddle. Again, maintaining that lean or I can turn away from my paddle. Developing a good J lean is one of the really
main features of a great canoeist, is someone who can J lean comfortably in more difficult
and confidently no matter what the situation.

4 thoughts on “How to Steer and Paddle a Canoe : How to do a J Leaning Stroke in Canoeing

  • May 10, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    It helps you turn the canoe is the simple answer. But it also teaches you balance, and to become comfortable with the canoe moving around (tipping) under you.

  • May 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I hate expert village, it's more a village of idiots

  • April 23, 2012 at 3:54 am

    This is a great video as is the entire series. JRNY real mature, you did not even state a reason for you obviously blind anger towards this video.

  • January 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks for your great videos. You are an accomplished paddler, and it shows in your style of teaching. I just started out paddling this year, and had a bit of difficulty at first. Your instruction videos have helped me improve immensely with practice.


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