Grip on Paddle and Bent shaft paddles.....thoughts please!

Reaching forward to sink in the catch with good stretch seems to really make a difference in getting some good speed going, but in the stretched forward position, it is true that you are gripping the paddle mostly with the thumb and index. Wet hands (and possibly the residue of sun screen) make the wood paddle slippery and when I am trying to sprint really hard the lower pulling hand slips occasionally and shoots up the paddle. On the top hand which is pushing down to bury the blade in the water this slipping causes a sudden external rotation which really did a number on my shoulder, which has been dislocated before. This only happens when I am trying to sprint with max effort but I now get the idea of having a bent shaft paddle and how being able to pull really hard in the streched forward position with a solid grip is and interesting idea! or doing something to rough up the slick wood shaft. By all measures I think I have a strong grip. Anyone have a problem with the paddle slipping when sprinting and if so is there a tape or wrap that can help?

Thanks for advice!

Submitted by Shawn Michael on Sun, 02/10/2008 - 10:20pm

1) Don't try to grip harder/better with your lower hand. Just stop driving down so hard with your top hand.
2) Do not go buy a bent shaft paddle when the one you have is perfectly fine.
3) Do not apply wax, grip-tape or other some such silliness to your shaft.


#1 Sun, 02/10/2008 - 10:36pm

Dude I disagree.

In my simple view you should at least try a double bend shaft if you are on an OC1, biggest face you can pull and yeah it can be agood idea to try some tennis tape.

Try it out and find acombo u like.

After going back to a double bend I'll never use a straight shaft again.

OC6 a different story though, all members should be using the same shaft type.

#2 Sun, 02/10/2008 - 11:21pm

I expect it can only be a technique thing as 99% of paddlers use a straight paddle...I did notice in pictures that serveral paddlers have some type of tape on the shaft of the paddle I was not sure if it served as a measure or to keep the hand from slipping up.

There is a sprint race coming up in a few month and I have been trying to do all out sprints intersperced with my laps around the harbor and that is where I run into trouble. I would prefer to use what is tried and true and commonly available, but I get how a bent shaft could be a good thing (in theory since I have not tried it). It is tough because for 250$ you want to be pretty sure...

at almost 120kg I thought I might do well with a paddle with a bigger face too but I dont know. I feel I am in a hurry to find the "best gear" for me and get proficient with that. And when you are new in a sport and dont know much you are ripe for buying a lot of useless stuff! I saw that progression in archery, powerlifting etc where you think you need all this speical equiptment and then you get wise and realize that many of the best train with the simplest tools and the most heart. Not sure how many more times my shoulder is going to take the grip slipping...the last time my grip slipped up I felt the shoulder sublux a bit....if I am trying to go fast and hard if I dont get that paddle burried deep I see the cavitation...I want my gear to serve me and not hesitate to go all out. Technique, Technique

#3 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:31am

Shawn, it may help if you enter the blade at a moderate reach with no power applied yet. Then "catch" the water by pushing forward and down with your top arm (like a swimmer does when they "reach over a barrel" to hook the water). Your top arm should be almost straight and at shoulder height, the paddle shaft will be almost perpendicular by now and this is the time to apply power and your hand will be in a position to grip the shaft with all the fingers. Pull through to the hip and exit and let the canoe glide.

This is not easy to get right and takes lots of time in the canoe to get good at it. (I'm still trying after 20years)

If you hear/feel cavitation, back off the power a touch and you will get the same speed for less effort. Think pulling up to the planted paddle and your mind will engage the correct muscles.

Your arms are just an extension of the paddle, so if they are almost straight and locked, your shoulders, back, core and legs can do the work.

The engaging sequence at the point of power application, is legs, hips, back, shoulders, that way the torque is transferred to the hull when the power is on.

Everybody does things slightly different and some top paddlers still go fast with bad technique.

Good luck

Cheers Rambo

#4 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:15am

Many thanks for the posts. The power from the legs part is hard to grasp as I am trying to be careful with the rudder and dont think of it as a solid base to push my legs into.

#5 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:21am

I always washed my hands after putting on sunscreen, but it's not much of a problem here in Seattle. As for wax or tape, I think you'll find that after a while you're not really gripping the paddle that tightly anyway. I can't think of many top paddlers who use a grip-aid, if you will. As for paddle type, don't worry about it too much, but I guess those curvy shaft paddles are good for carpal tunnel syndrome. Just use somthing like what your team will be using, just a little shorter maybe.

#6 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 3:55am

I had the same problem so I started using paddling gloves to prevent that slipping thing. That did a good job of alleviating slipping. They are also good in distance races as your hands don't get sore and make it uncomfortable to grip the paddle late in the race.

#7 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 4:55am

goto wrote "3) Do not apply wax, grip-tape or other some such silliness to your shaft."

what is the disadvantage to applying a bit of surf wax? I've done so in the past and it solved the occasional slipping grip and I couldn't perceive any drawbacks from having done so.

#8 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 6:35am

I've found that when I've used a taped paddle, it rips the skin on my hands. A swipe or two of surfboard wax provides great extra grip if you need it, and is easy on your hands. And remember that a tight grip on the paddle is counter productive. Your hands need to be relaxed.

#9 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 7:15am

wax, tape, tennis wrap, and silliness is so amateurish. Gloves are worse. Might as well smear preparation-H all over your paddle.

Shaun Michaels, you need to learn how to paddle with your legs. In fact get in your mind that you paddle with your legs and not your arms. For real. Paddle with the big muscles: legs, butt, back.


#10 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 10:24am

Dear Poopoopaddler,

Are you trying to say that any non-slip grip = a female medical condition? Or that female paddlers are amateurs? Or that anyone wishing to keep their hands from developing massive & unsightly blisters & calluses has a yeast infection?

While I agree with the second part of your latest post ("you need to learn how to paddle with your legs. In fact get in your mind that you paddle with your legs and not your arms."), I wish you would reconsider the vagisil/monistat-7 comment. There are many female paddlers that are far from amateur & some of them might use gloves occasionally. Also some of them might be able to beat you up (or down)...

I am saddened by your insensitive and inaccurate comment, especially since your insensitive and inaccurate comments usually make me laugh. Please, tell me you didn't mean it like that (lie if you have to).

Paddling like a girl does not = wimpy or amateur!!

#11 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 10:08am

Paddlelikeagirl OK OK poop on myself. I stand corrected and apologize for the insensitive inaacurate statements. I just couldn't think of any other cream as good as vagisil.

The glove comments are for men. Everytime I see men with gloves I like to give them crap. Especially when they start whining about blisters and stuff. I mean how do you feel about men stressing over blisters and calluses or keeping their hands soft? Thats pretty sissy. Women are Ok with gloves, they need to keep soft hands.... hehe


#12 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 10:30am

I am a little behind on this string but one thing jumped out that I need to respond to, Before you start doing all out sprints learn to paddle, You have had your boat 1 month and no previous training, You should be paddling at 60% effort and trying to use as perfect technique as possible, All out sprints right now are going to do lots of bad things to your paddling, Two such things are Teach you awful technique and get you hurt.
Paddling is about efficiency, You are a big guy and probably as strong as an OX. You will get very disappointed when guys half your size and strength crush you on the water,
Build your paddling around a solid foundation, Muscle memory is key, If you go out too hard, too fast and try and become the super padder overnight you will only do harm, Let your body adjust and learn, As it learns you will be able to build on to it.

#13 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 11:18am

Keep to standard equipment as much as possible. When you start paddling in OC6 and/or doing changeover races and your team mates get in the canoe and have to use a strange wax coated / tennis wrapped /sunscreen soaked paddle, you will not be Mr Popular.

Gloves are fine as they only effect you.

Steve Cole always paddles with gloves and they work for him.

Cheers Rambo

#14 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 11:36am

---OK so the slipping hand thing is purely a technique problem. Using any grip assist (like chalk resin etc that is used in most other sports where you grip something) is a no no.

---I like the blisters, except for all the staph mrsa threads (and the fact that I work in a hospital). I think the feel of the paddle,bar etc in the bare hand is part of my high.

---Mr. OceanOhana is the most honest salesman in the world and literally refuses to sell me the hundreds of $$ worth of unnecessary equiptment I am dying to buy in my new paddling exuberence

---to brace the legs to stabilize the upper body, do you push on the rudder pedals? Drive you heals down? When I used to cycle our coach would say "the key to endurance is relaxation" and settling in for a long climb meant relaxing as many accessory muscles as possible so maybe that is where I was messed up.

#15 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 11:49am

Rambo, I beg to differ, gloves affect others too cause you gotta look at em on the guy in front of you. That means you're paddling with a wussy.


#16 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 11:58am

I pretty much subscribe to poop's glove rule, with one exception- below freezing conditions. This is my third winter of paddling in Washington, and this year I treated myself to a farmer John wetsuit, thicker booties, and 3mm scuba gloves. It makes it alot easier to paddle, especially if you're staying out longer than 90 minutes or so. There are other top paddlers who wear gloves in addition to Steve Cole, but it's better to avoid if at all possible.

#17 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:25pm

Try using a Gooseneck paddle from NZ. Very comfortable paddle and hardly have to grip it. Many top paddlers in NZ use them.

#18 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:28pm

who makes these paddling man-rules? use whatever works for you... personally i would say, don't use wax or tape in a 6man because it sucks for whoever comes in for you on a change... can't knock gloves because there are plenty of paddlers who kick everyone's ass who use them.. esp. when steering a long race... whatever works for you.

but on a one man, use whatever you want- you want to use pink tape with extra bumpy coconut smelling sex wax, use that too.. who cares?

if you're worried about how manly you are, wear those extra tight spandex shorts and show everyone what's up.

otherwise just train.

#19 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:45pm

One more thing, Shawn Michael Michaels, never question the manliness of guys who wear gloves. It's a deeply personal and sensitive issue.

#20 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:52pm

Poopoo, here's a little "test" for you.

Go to your local Gym and yell out loud "gloves are for Wussies"

Then try and sprint for the exit door. .... bet you don't Poopoo for a while. ...... Hahaaaaa

Cheers Rambo

#21 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:54pm

See the weightroom thing is a totally different issue. There, glove are all good.

And Rambo you got it wrong man, I'd probably poopoo as I run for the door.

In my mind if you train and paddle properly then there's no need for gloves. Plus its important to feel the paddle. Plus glove always stink after about a weeks use. Horribly stink. If somethings stink in the boat, blame they guy with the gloves.


#22 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 1:33pm

would i be a hypocrite if i say that wearing gloves while paddling is no big deal, but wearing them webbed gloves while surfing makes you a kook (assuming there's no ice in the water of course)?

#23 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 1:45pm

Yeah if theres anything worse than paddling with gloves its surfing with webs. Gayyyy

#24 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:01pm

What if it's cold and you have to wear gloves anyway-webs still not allowed?

#25 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:02pm

only if you stuff heating packs in your shorts

#26 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:08pm

So gloves smell like poopoo after a while?

#27 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:08pm

slipping on the grip can be a problem from the neck;

I have a friend, advanced rhytmic sports gymnastics; every now and then she drops a drinking glass without warning. Her neck has gotten so strained over the years, that she does not get the precise nerval feed back on her grip strength.

My hand slips occasionally after a lot of keybord work on the computer; but only if I try things that I usually don't do, such as extra push with the top hand etc.

A little drill, maybe someone has a better one :

open your top hand so that you have your palm only on the grip, and take the thumb of your bottom hand off the shaft, hold the paddle with your fingers only. Gives you pretty good feed back and takes away the brute force
Another drill: pull with your bottom hand only, take the top hand entirely off the paddle, use your large muscles and try to advance.

#28 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:14pm

#29 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:53pm

I can't believe this whole thread is about gripping your paddle.

Just hold onto the damn thing. Is it that hard? Good lord.

#30 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:31pm

Kona J, I dunno whether to be insulted or flattered?

1. Amputate the toe, end of story
2. OK, you're just trying to get a rise off of me. Buy a recliner instead
3. I don't really care. My crew, probably, since we lost bad all our races.


#31 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:34pm

Is there such a thing as overrated paddlers or crews? It ain't College Football. Everyone races, you end up wherevers, that's that. Right?

#32 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:37pm

Bad attempt at humor just ignore

You are always flattered PooPooP

#33 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:53pm

Damn-I was hoping to spark a heated overrated/underrated debate!

#34 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 3:08pm

Take a quick survey of paddlers. See how many use gloves. I think you will find both men and women have pretty much no problem holding keeping their wood under control. Even without gloves. I tried borrowing a pair once and I actully dropped my paddle more than I ever had before. So I gave them back to my manservant and never used them again. Gloves for warmth OK. Otherwise, useless. As for surf wax, it gave me the worst blisters I ever had. Some people use the excuse that tape protects the paddle from getting roughed up. But if you paddle properly, this wear won't happen.

#35 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 3:23pm

I got the idea of wearing gloves from Walter Guild, Mark Haines, Courtney Seto and a lot of guys on Outriggers crew that won Molokai many times. As I said earlier I have found that towards the end of distance races they definetly were an advantage. They also helped me to grip the paddle. Some of my friends gave me shit about wearing gloves (Poops manliness issue) but they never kicked me out of the crew.
Here's the thing, distance races are tough mentally and people will do what it takes to make themselves comfortable and to give themselves an advantage (even if it's only a perceived advantage). So if it doesn't detract from the speed of the canoe what's the problem.
Same thing with neoprene pants. Some guys insist on wearing surfshorts. I found it eaasier to do changes with neoprene shorts on and I didn't drag a lot of water into the boat with me. Some guys (like Poop) have manliness issues and insist on surf shorts.
In other words; what dacho said.

#36 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 3:39pm

...all those reasons and because you're soft and unmanly, VLT! I find that my assless chaps do great job of not dragging water into the boat when I perform one of my patented, triple clutcher, leg hooking like Melissa water changes. And that riding crop is also a source of great comfort to me during those grueling one hour long PNWORCA winter races, and is also great for getting unwanted drafters off my tail.

#37 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 4:08pm

....fricking drafters. Speaking of's the epitome.

#38 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 4:18pm

I'm a neoprene kind of guy too VLT, but a you must tie that waist cord nice and tight else your pants balloon with water when entering the OC6. Very hard on the arms with an extra 10kg of water to pull up.

Cheers Rambo

#39 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 5:37pm

…all those reasons and because you’re soft and unmanly, VLT!

Jim, I've seen you in that wetsuit........You'd better be careful paddling out on the Sound or some of the Makah Indians might be tempted to harpoon you.

#40 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 5:48pm

All this talk about using gloves or tape or whatever as being unmanly is f'n BS. If y'all are so concerned with bein a bad-ass purest take the "T" top grip off and paddle like they did not long ago. Shawn Michael, do whatever gives you better performance.

#41 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 6:25pm

In weightlifting gloves are the ultimate in mullet-head dork gear. I think the russians figured out that the hands have reflexes in them and deadening the reflexes with padded gloves isnt good. I'll stick with reg paddle for now, and if I keep slipping and punching my top hand down I'll bust out the surf wax.

I was more wondering if this is a thing that happens when you are trying to go all out + seeing bent paddles/tape etc in pics on the site.

Thanks for the advice.

#42 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 6:40pm

I like gloves when doing changes in OC6. Canvas or not, flat or rough, I'm going to get a reasonable grip in trying to drag my sorry ass into the boat. That makes my crew mates happy. Last thing I want to do is piss off the big fellas like Jimmy Kincaid, Tom Arnott, Dennis Salas or Bill Bright. Especially Bright and Jimmy. They can get semi aggro if you are tardy in zipping up. If changes are not involved, I'll use surf wax on the shaft. Bottom line is if it works best for you ....go with it.

#43 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 7:05pm

KGB is right, if it works do it. Just don't whine when half the world calls you names.

Jc9 is right, When I tried gloves once I dropped my paddle several times. My testicles also substantially shrank. Took them immediately off. I need all I can get.


#44 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 7:22pm

Kona J why did you delete your posts???? Damnit now my posts look stupider than normal. Frick

#45 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 7:23pm

Forgot to mention earlier. Lotion helps a lot with the fixing of rough hands and blisters.

But as someone said in this thread, Lotion severely impedes grip. So perhaps Lotion may be desired in other pursuits where grip is undesirable.

Or perhaps the most famous use of Lotion to date.

#46 Mon, 02/11/2008 - 11:02pm

It putsth the lotion in the bathket...

#47 Tue, 02/12/2008 - 4:07am

surfing with webs = weak
paddling with gloves = ok when it 29 friggin degrees out wax or not its really hard to hold a paddle when your hands are numb and blue.
paddling with tape = a nasty mess in the long run
paddling with wax (no change ups) = if it helps YOU, ok.

and I don't know about the Makah but I've never seen a whale paddling a canoe, maybe if Jim where to huli in the Sound then he'd have to worry about.

That's how far I can wee-wee, how far can you?

Why do elephants paint their toe nails red?..........
.......... they can hide in cherry trees.

.......Ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree? works, doesn't it??

#48 Tue, 02/12/2008 - 3:45pm

Surfing with webs is weak and for kooks? Tell that to Buffalo Keaulana.

Personally I like the tactile feel without gloves, wax, or tape, but who cares what you use (though I agree with OC6 "standards" for the changes). Use hockey gloves it makes you faster...

#49 Wed, 02/13/2008 - 6:31pm

Sorry I'm late for this one, but did poopfriend just say, and I quote:
"My testicles also substantially shrank. Took them immediately off. I need all I can get."
You took of your testicles immediately? Why the rush to judgement? I don't know if I should congratulate you, or offer some kind of help. Please, please elaborate !!!
And what would be the "all" you're trying to get.
Do tell !

#50 Wed, 02/13/2008 - 7:29pm

Hey Shawn, I had a similar situation when really hitting it hard OR when I got tired, I would find my lower hand would slip and hit at the t-grip. A fellow crewman suggested just giving the grip area of the shaft a few swipes with sandpaper. That nice varnish finish is pretty, but also slippery. It made no chage to the paddle's appearance or protection, but gave just enough texture to stop the slipping.

#51 Wed, 02/13/2008 - 7:29pm

Jc9 O I think I might have to party with you sometime.
Gin and tonics contra la Malaria.

#52 Wed, 02/13/2008 - 7:36pm

surfing with webs = weak...... never said anything about it being for kooks (that must have been some one else)....just weak as in build up your paddling strength so you don't need the webs, but seriously people still use them? I don't think I've seen a pair since 1990

#53 Wed, 02/13/2008 - 8:36pm

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