Improve Paddling Skills

Improve Paddling Skills

By: Coast Outdoors Comments: 0

Improving Dragon Boat Performance


When it comes to improving your dragon boat performance, there's a whole world beyond just paddling on the water. Sure, cardio and strength training are essential, but let's dive deeper into the game-changing tool.

Being in a boat with 20 other paddlers, it's easy for flaws and weaknesses to slip under the radar. Coaches have their hands full trying to keep tabs on everyone, and let's be real, even if you're not at your best, the boat keeps on moving. So, it's all too easy to fall into the trap of repeating the same mistakes.

Then there's the scheduling dilemma. Miss a practice, and there's no making it up later in the week. Getting 20 people to agree on a new practice day? Nearly impossible.

So, how do you level up your dragon boating game?

The answer: paddle an OC (Outrigger Canoe)

Photo: Cathi paddling a Tiare (Allwave OC) 

Let's clear up some terms first. You've got your OC6 (6-person outrigger canoe), OC2 (2-person outrigger canoe), and OC1 (1-person outrigger canoe).

Now, let's address the common concerns:

"What if I flip an outrigger canoe?" Well, ideally, you shouldn't be flipping one. If you do, it's a sign that there's work to be done on balance and technique. Outrigger Canoes are designed for stability, thanks to the 'Ama,' a small pontoon attached to the side. So, just lean into the Ama, and you'll stay afloat.

"I don't want to carry a boat around solo." Fear not, there are lightweight OCs that are a breeze to carry. Plus, if you've got a buddy, problem solved. But really, it's easier to coordinate with one friend than 20 teammates.

Now, let's talk about why adding an outrigger canoe to your training routine can work wonders:


1. Improve your water Sensitivity:

In a dragon boat packed with 20 paddlers, it's hard to measure your individual impact. You might be pushing hard, but with so many others paddling alongside, it's tough to know your true strength and effectiveness. The boat keeps moving regardless.

However, when switching to a smaller vessel like an OC1, OC2 or OC6,  the dynamics change dramatically. If someone eases off or stops paddling altogether, you'll feel it instantly. This heightened sensitivity to the water is a game-changer for refining your stroke technique.

2. Improve Boat Sensitivity:

In a dragon boat, you often find yourself following the rhythm set by the drummer. The direction of the boat is controlled by the steerer and the drummer, who devise strategies to navigate through any challenges. This setup isn't very different from an OC6, where you still adhere to a strategy and a designated leader. However, in an OC6, you become more sensible to the water conditions.

Paddling an OC1 or an OC2 takes this sensitivity to another level. Here, you have the flexibility to adjust your position to optimize performance based on the ever-changing water conditions. Furthermore, the distribution of weight and the configuration of the crew also play crucial roles in determining the boat's stability.

Photo: Bob Surfing with a Fluctus (Allwave OC) 


3. Improve Paddling Skills:

As you refine your skills, the entire dragon boat team benefits. That's why many clubs provide outriggers for training purposes. These boats serve as invaluable tools for sharpening individual paddling techniques. When each team member improves, the collective performance skyrockets, making that dragon boat unbeatable.

Moreover, training in smaller boats makes it easier for coaches to pinpoint and correct stroke errors Transitioning to smaller vessels increases your control, adaptability to changing conditions, and overall paddling proficiency.

4. Improve Endurance:

When you're paddling in a smaller boat, including an OC6, every ounce of effort counts. This level of accountability drives you to push harder, resulting in stronger paddling performances.

Indeed, paddling an outrigger canoe offers a lot of benefits. It enhances endurance, increases confidence, and fosters better control on the water. So, if your club has outriggers available, take that opportunity and try them. Don't hesitate to spend a lot of time paddling in these boats. Not only will you see significant improvements in your own skills, but your teammates will also benefit. 

Don't have access to outriggers? If you're serious about the sport, it's worth considering investing in one. Beyond performance gains, outrigger canoeing opens up a world of new experiences, from races to fun paddles.

Check out our other blogs

Paddling Tips

Ski Tips



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