Working to develop finesse in your strokes is one of the quickest ways to improve your feel for the blade against the water. With finesse, you will be better able to anchor your strokes, and fine-tune the blade position so that it you get the desired effect.
The most basic finesse drill is to practice draw strokes, which are used tomove the boat sideways. Rotate your torso to face the blade, and practice a smooth in the water recovery. Adjust your strokes to keep the boat moving on a parallel path. In general, verticality on draws and bow draws is a good thing, because it gives the blade a better bite in the water. If the shaft angle is low, then the blade slides in the water.
Another important finesse drill to practice is sculling draws. There are twostyles of these draws you should spend time practicing . The most common sculling draw is taking the blade through an arc. It is also important to learn sculling using a long and straight path of travel with the blade. Open the leading edge of the blade so you can keep the boat moving smoothly sideways. Slice the blade along a three foot line, 6 inches from your boat. Gradually open the blade for each direction of travel, making sure to keep both of your hands out over the water by rotating your torso. You can get extra extension by working your top hand in the opposite direction as the blade.
Easy and efficient sculling is a prerequisite to skillful sideslipping. With a sideslip you can move with precision in an eddy to set up the precise angle you wish to leave the eddy with and double your options for sliding out of the eddy to a playspot. The sideslip move looks easy, but it's not! Pick a target and get a little speed. Place the blade behind your hip. The exact blade placement varies by your speed, rotational momentum, and the boat design.
With the right blade angle and placement you will move sideways smoothly. As your boat slows down, scull the blade forward. If the blade starts too far forward, or too open, you will turn, rather than sideslip.
All of these strokes and drills that have been mentioned will greatly improve your paddling if they are practiced. You now have options for how to make subtle corrections and adjustments in your own boating whether it is for river running or playboating.