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Paddling Basics with Sean Brennan

Thanks to Sean Brennan from Adventurethon Australia for providing this article.

Multisport and paddling events such as Adventurethon and the NQ Ocean Paddling Series have seen a large increase in people taking on paddling these days, so it makes sense to invest in your knowledge if you want to enjoy this sport. The following information is all about getting things right from the start so you can enjoy the sport, whether that is for weekend social paddles or competitive paddling.

The critical part of your ski set up is getting the correct leg length. This is the main connection to your ski and it helps with balance. If it’s too short, Fig 1, you’ll be off balance, locked up and won’t be able to drive for the entire length of the stroke.

Fig 1


If it’s too long, Fig 2, you’ll lose that connection at the catch and won’t be able to rotate properly and drive the ski forward.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Finding your correct leg length, Fig.3, will allow you to maximise your leg drive, rotation and connection with your ski while improving your balance. You can drive more efficiently off the front of the stroke, rotate and engage the ski for the entire stroke to exit and you’ll be able to control the ski more.

Fig 3


It’s better for you to have the correct paddle length and a slightly smaller blade than it being too big, as this causes faults in your technique.

With your stroke the power needs to be in the water, and you need to use your body to get good bracing and balance through your ski. Use your lower body as the base to work from, then place the paddle in the water (the ‘catch’, Fig 4, is critical to setting up an efficient stroke) and then create a lever with your body and lever past where your paddle enters the water.

Fig 4

Stability leads to power which leads to speed, so having good balance is essential. If you don’t have a strong core you won’t be able to hold the ski stable or control it. There are literally hundreds of core exercises on YouTube, but look for more paddle specific ones.

For more tips on paddling and Adventurethon check out


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Adventurethon is an adrenaline charged multisport challenge incorporating paddling, mountain biking and off road (or trail) running. Similar to a triathlon format, each Adventurethon race is off road frequenting areas like national parklands, beaches and hiking trails to enjoy spectacular scenery and experience the outdoors.

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