One of the greatest and most simplest skills we can learn on whitewater is to keep an active blade (paddle stroke) in the water. This active blade can be a forward stroke, draw, sweep, or any other proactive use of the paddle in the water it doesn’t matter. The key is to have it. This simple act of being connected to the water at all times mean that we are in control and as paddlers it provides us with stability and allows us to be ready to manoeuvre whenever required.
How to work on having an active blade in the water
1. Start off in flatwater. Place your blade in the water and have a go at moving yourself around in a series of draws, sweeps and other paddle moves. See how stable and in control you are with a paddle in the water.
2. Now head to the river start on an easy section of gently flowing water as you paddle focus on keeping an active blade. Have a go at running some simple wave trains. Try it with your paddle in the air. Then with an active blade in the water. See how much more control you have and how balanced you are.
Its amazing how much effect having an active blade in the water has on our performance. When you start paddling more challenging sections of whitewater there is often the automatic reaction to take your paddle out of the water. This can have a massive effect on your balance and performance. Try and be aware of it and focus on having an active blade at all times. As you progress this will become an natural reaction and part of your general paddling technique and will require lass focus and attention.