OC-1 stroke technique, leg drive?

Aloha all,

So I am fairly new to consistent OC-1 paddling after moving from O'ahu to Portland, Oregon 2 years ago. 

I have trained on paddle boards (prone) for some years and understand the importance of a good reach and smooth technique.
My question is with respect to leg drive involved in an OC-1 stroke. I know you can get much more leg drive in an OC-6 and other open hull designs, but I was curious as to how much other paddlers focus on leg drive or even utilize it in an OC-1.
My logic is, if you can incorporate more leg drive into your stroke, you are essentially recruiting larger muscle groups and creating more power as well as spreading out the muscle groups used within your stroke. Mentally I have been trying to envision slightly reaching my hips forward on the respective side of my stroke to essentially "cock" my hips for the power phase while maintaining a full arm reach. I have felt this really makes my stroke feel so much more powerful, placebo effect?
One more question with respect to paddle shaft position. Is it important to reach over as far as to maintain a paddle shaft orientation that is perpendicular to the water line throughout the entire stroke? Meaning perpendicular to the water line if viewed from the bow or stern of the canoe looking down the length of it, not from the side. Physics would tell me that perpendicular would be more efficient than at a slight angle. But I also understand that this reach can twist your torso out of the midline of the hull and might cause inefficiency and injury. Hope that question makes sense.

Maybe I am over-analyzing and I know there are many schools of thought on technique but I would greatly appreciate any input/links on this subject.


Submitted by JLanglais on Fri, 07/27/2012 - 12:51pm

Personally I think "leg drive" is very much as you describe it. Incorporating larger muscles and generating more power with your legs. Keep in mind I will limit my description to "static leg drive" a more or less constant leg pressure against the footwells but by no means is it emphasized with each stroke. As you might, I find myself asking how "leg drive" assists with power generation. I began by imagining the path of energy transfer. For paddling OC1, when transferring the energy of a stroke from blade-to-boat I focused on the transfer points. In an OC1 the transfer from body to boat is mostly occurring in the seat, and you use your legs to keep your okole pinned in the seat. If you didn't use your legs then your upper body and in particular your lower back would be burdened with supporting the energy transfer. So I conclude that using my legs helps the energy transfer from my body to the boat.
I dare venture that "leg drive" may even provide an alternative transfer point other than the seat, perhaps the footwells. I remember a few years back at the world sprints a Tahitian paddler crushed the field with amazing power. If you watched Rambo's slo-mo video (w/Madonna sound track) it looked as if he was using so much "leg drive" that he wasn't even sitting in his seat! He looked as if he was cranking an ergo-machine with ridiculous "leg drive" against his "footwell" or front bulkhead. Maybe ground breaking, maybe not, but it was cool either way because this guy was really moving.
If there is a question about an emphasized "leg drive" like "hip-cocking" similar to technique used in Surfski or K1 paddling then maybe examine some of Greg Barton's videos on Surfski technique. Who knows you might discover an edge.

Not sure how to answer your other question. I know you are supposed to really lean on the blade and get your weight over it, but also stay centered. I myself have not yet come to a great understanding of this but would love to hear what others have to say. If you have trouble getting it perfect maybe just try and compromise and see what works best for yourself.

#1 Fri, 07/27/2012 - 9:48pm

Thanks Gaucho

Anyone else care to provide some insight?

#2 Wed, 08/01/2012 - 3:12pm

leg drive comes from body rotation

#3 Wed, 08/01/2012 - 8:39pm

I thought it was the other way around? But anyway, "leg drive" and "body rotation" no can happen without the okole connection.

#4 Wed, 08/01/2012 - 9:03pm

Stroke & Body Technique with Guy Wilding.

Taaroa Dubois video

Slow Motion Video of Lemmy. Shows you can still get the paddle shaft perpendicular to the waterline without compromising body position or cause injury.

Being able to get the paddle shaft "straight up and down" or perpendicular also helps in that you can get as close to the hull for a stronger power phase and the canoe tends to keep a straighter line going forward.

#5 Wed, 08/01/2012 - 9:15pm

Leg Drive was discussed before in this thread a few years ago. The video link in the first post is no longer valid, but the Youtube video is posted in my above post.


#6 Thu, 08/02/2012 - 9:20am

Yeah Ta'aroa gets insane leg drive in that video. He creates a lot of rocking of boat but who cares when you come first right?
Yeah I agree Koa and Gaucho, your okole is the link to power transfer. Kind of like the differential in a truck.

Mahalo for the input!

#7 Thu, 08/02/2012 - 9:51am

Theres no kicker in the va'a for leg drive to so he pushes of the bottom of the canoe.

#8 Fri, 08/03/2012 - 5:24am

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