Paddling  commands

“READY” or “SET”- paddlers move into the forward position immediately ready to make the first ‘Catch’ as they take the first stroke. Ideally paddlers will be in the forward twist, forward lean position ready to ‘Strike’ the first ‘Catch’ or stroke

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“GO” - This is the command to start paddling in a non-race or training situation.

“EASY ALL” or “EASY”- This command is for paddlers to stop paddling, and to place paddles in the relaxed position. Paddle blades are resting on the surface of the water to provide stability for the boat. The paddles are angling out at approximately 45-90 degrees to the side of the boat. The dragging paddles will slow and eventually stop the boat.


“EASY ALL - LET IT RUN”-paddling stops and boat coasts to a stop (usually on shore) on its own. Paddles are in EASY ALL position but off the surface of the water.

“PADDLES FLAT”- or “PADDLES ON”.- Paddles are placed in a relaxed position with blades resting on the water. This position provides boat stability and improves paddler safety. During times of instability ( rough water and while members are changing position on the boat) the paddles should be held rigidly with the blade on the water and the paddler maintaining a firm hold on the paddle

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“PADDLES UP”-Following this command, the paddler moves into the forward position and the paddle is held upright with the blade uppermost above the head of the paddler. In older-days prior to adoption of the current ‘twist’ stroke this was once the starting position for a Race Start.

It is now commanded by the Sweep when trying to appraise the balance of the boat and paddler weight distribution. It may also be used as a ceremonial salute

“JAMB-STOP”, “DIG-IT-IN” or “HOLD THE BOAT”-This command is given by the Sweep or Drummer to bring the boat to a full and prompt stop with the use of the paddles. This is done by holding the paddles firmly and deeply in the water so that they act as a brake for the boat. This is also an emergency command and MUST ALWAYS BE CARRIED OUT IMMEDIATELY because it may at times be called to prevent a collision during a race or for some other safety reason. The “Jamb” is held continuously until the next command is given.

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“ALL CREWS…ARE YOU READY ...ATTENTION PLEASE”-This command is given by the Race Starter immediately prior to commencing a race. It requires paddlers to move IMMEDIATELY into a position with paddles kept deep in the water ready for the first stroke. Races usually begin with paddles deep in the water at the ‘catch’ position. The race begins with the sounding of a gun or hooter etc.


The standard Powerblades’ race start series commonly consists of 33 strokes. The first 5 are very deep powerful slower strokes followed by 28 strokes building in speed and power. The last three strokes are increasing in power ready for the transition into slower powerful more rhythmic strokes for the main section of the race


 At key points in a race the Sweep and/or Stroke may call for a series of strokes, often a set of 10 or 20 strokes that are quicker and more forceful. Sometimes called in training to resume full effort or in a race to maintain speed, pass another crew or recover ‘lost ground’


The final 25% of a race usually sees the Sweep and Stroke call for a series of 30 to 50 or so strokes building in power and speed to get the boat over the finish line at maximum speed.

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During training the Sweep or Coach may request that a paddler or group of paddlers rest whilst the remainder of the crew continue. When making the command for crew members to stop or recommence paddling, the Sweep will ‘Count In’ paddlers with a loud 3-2-1 count. When being ‘Counted Out’, paddlers stop paddling after the ‘1’ stroke. When being ‘Counted In’, Powerblades paddlers are ready on’3’, tap the shaft of their paddle on the gunwhales (side of the boat) on ‘2’, and resume paddling on the ‘1



The ‘Sweep’ or steersperson or helmsman is in charge of the boat when on the water. The ‘Sweep’ (who may also be the coach), is responsible for steering the boat, calling for rating and power changes and for new ‘series’. The ‘Sweep’ is responsible for crew safety and all orders from the Sweep must be followed immediately they are given.


The Stroke leads the crew and sets the speed or rate of the stroke.


The Drummer assists in setting the speed of the stroke and is responsible (with the Sweep) for safety, for relaying the Sweep’s commands and for motivating and encouraging the crew. Generally in Australia, Drummers do not drum in any teams other than when training with beginners. Whilst drumming rhythm may be helpful for beginners, it is generally regarded as distracting. In national and international events Drummers are expected to drum because this adds to the noise and excitement of the event for nonparticipants. Only Asian crews with stable and highly experienced drummers allow the Drummer to determine the rate of a crew during a race. In Australia and most other countries the rate is set by the ‘Stroke’ or lead paddler.