How to dragon boat and exercise safely

Technique and sports recovery articles

How to hold the paddle

Holding the Paddle

The bottom hand or the hand of the water side when sitting in the boat, grips the shaft a few inches from the bottom. The other hand or top hand, grips the paddle by curling the fingers over the top of the handle.

Basic Paddling Action

  • Both arms should be outstretched and the shoulders and waist rotated so that maximum reach can be obtained as the paddle enters the water at the front or catch of the stroke.
  • The blade should be almost vertical when viewed from behind with the blade entering next to the boat and following a parallel path down the side of the boat.
  • The paddle is pulled through the water by rotating back through the waist and shoulders.
  • At the end of the stroke, the paddle exits the water as it moves back and to the side for an efficient and relaxed return through the air to the start of the stroke.
  • Paddlers in the front are good at keeping time. Out-of-sync blades hit the water a fraction of a second behind each other, creating lag.
  • The back paddlers focus more on power strokes to maintain speed in the faster water.

How to paddle 1 & 2

Step 1. ‘A’ position and extension Turn your back to the water. Reach forward, stretching your arm and back. Place the paddle at the thigh of the paddler in front of you. Lean your body outside the boat, top arm straight, top shoulder over the water.
Step 2. The Catch Enter the blade fully into the water at an approximate 60-degree angle. Pull and counter rotate with your lower arm, shoulder and back. Drive down aggressively with your top arm.

How to paddle 3 & 4

Step 3. Pull and exit The paddler uses their back muscles to pull the blade parallel with the boat. The exit occurs when the paddle arrives at their hip by lifting their top arm.
Step 4. Recovery The paddle exits the water at the hip, returning to the ‘A’ position by rotating and stretching the bottom arm, shoulder and back. Additionally, paddlers should attempt to transfer their weight onto the blade.

Technique Videos 1-5

PaddlesUp! Dragon Boat Technique. Phase 1: Set-Up

PaddlesUp! Dragon Boat Technique Phase 2: Extension

Paddles Up! Dragon Boat Technique Phase 3: Catch 

PaddlesUp! Dragon Boat Technique Phase4 : Press Phase

PaddlesUp! Dragon Boat Technique Phase 5: Exit and Recovery 

Thanks to Alkame Dragon Boat Services

Boat composition

Steerperson – Sweep