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Ron Lugbill

Yes, as you age, you lose some of your flexibility and this can affect your shoulder when you do this stroke. The cross-sweep stroke requires a lot of torso mobility. More than most people have. But you can increase your torso mobility with range of motion exercises (stretching). One of the problems with paddling is that it isn't good to rotate the lower back very much. The hips and legs are immobile in the boat, so the rotation happens in the back. The rotation should be done using the upper back, not the lower back. Practice rotating in the boat and out of the boat to develop this flexibility. If you are having shoulder problems, they are usually rotator-cuff related. I would suggest rotator cuff exercises and hanging from a pull-up bar.
As far as technique goes, you may be compensating for a lack of flexibility and putting your shoulder in a difficult position. Or, some people don't really commit to the stroke and keep the torso facing forward, even though they do have the torso mobility to rotate.
By the way, on-side stern pries are good strokes too. Either one will normally work. Just make sure the pry is an efficient pry stroke that is under the boat and parallel with the boat, not out to the side of the boat and slowing you down.


Years ago, Gordon Black of NOC tried to teach me the cross-forward sweep, and I have tried to use it with variable success ever since. I most often use it when switching from an off-side carve to an on-side carve, or to arrest the boat from initiating an off-side carving turn as you describe. But I am finding that at 62 yrs of age, the stroke is becoming hard on my grip hand shoulder and I am having to resort to an on-side stern pry more often. Perhaps this problem has resulted from poor technique. Do you have any advice on how to minimize stress on the high hand shoulder when executing this stroke?

John Reeher

You have described perfectly the spin-out scenario that I have never learned to correct. I have gotten around it simply by getting better at not making it happen. Thanks so much for this tip, now time to go hit the ponds and practice!

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