The reverse sweep is much like the forward sweep in that it can be used to spin or turn. On the rivers it is often used to “pump the brakes” or position yourself better on a rapid or in an eddy and it is one of the fundamental paddle strokes used for play boating.
As the name suggests this is the reverse of the sweep stroke. Instead of starting at the bow of the boat you start at the stern and use the back of the paddle blade to generate the energy as you do a wide low sweeping paddle stroke to the bow.
How to do a Reverse Sweep
1. Using good torso rotation, turn your shoulders and chest towards the back of the boat keeping the paddle square with your shoulders in the ‘ paddlers box position’
2. Plant the blade in the water just past your hips near the back of the boat with a the paddle horizontal to the water and low.
2. Whilst keeping a relatively relaxed grip on your paddle, initiate the sweep stroke by unwinding from your torso rotation. As you unwind your torso you should find it will turn your shoulders and guide the paddle where you want it to go.
Imagine the center of the paddle is attached to the center of the chest.
3. Allow the paddle stroke to follow a wide arcing path to the side of the boat.
4. As you pull against the power of the water with the back of your blade you will be able to use your core and lower body to guide the boat in the direction you want it to go.
5. Once the paddle reaches towards your feet, you have completed the move. Recover the paddle by slicing the blade out through the water.
6. Then get ready to put it back in the water and perform your next paddle stroke.
As with the forward sweep the key is to have the paddle horizontal and low. Having the paddle horizontal rather than vertical means that the paddle blade travels away from the boat during the main stage of the move generating spin momentum rather than forward acceleration power. The further the blade from your boat the more spin, the closer to the boat the less spin.
Use the back of the paddle blade to perform this paddle stroke. You do not need to spin or rotate your paddle. The back of the paddle blade is designed for reverse paddling.
During the sweep stroke we use the power generated from the blade connecting with the water and pulling against the water to give us the energy to turn the boat. As you pull on the blade use your lower body to guide the boat in the direction you want it to go.