These are the terms describing the different components of a typical dragon boat stroke:

When you are in your "set-up", the positioning of your torso, top arm, paddle and bottom arm, should form the shape of a capital letter "A". Your torso and top arm combine to form one long side of the "A". The paddle makes up the other long side. Your bottom arm represents the short cross-beam between the two long sides. (refer to the paddler in the Xtreme logo in the banner)

Blade Angle
At all times, the angle of the paddle blade should be perpendicular to the boat's direction of travel.

This is the start of the "power" portion of the stroke. Your paddle should already be in the water, with the ENTIRE blade beneath the waterline. Your bottom hand should be either touching the water or completely submerged. Only at this point do you apply power to the stroke and begin the "compression".

This refers to the actual power portion of the stroke. The idea is you are "compressing" the water with the blade. Your bottom arm should remain fully extended throughout the entire compression. You want to drive the paddle down with your top arm. The bottom arm should only pull slightly. This is what moves the boat forward. Keep in mind, the idea is NOT to move the water with the paddle blade, but rather you are attempting to move the boat to the section of water where the blade entered.

Engine Room
This term is commonly used to identify the middle section of the boat. Typically these are the strongest paddlers in the boat.

This is when the paddle blade first enters the water. There should be little to no power applied while entering the water. As a result, there should also be little to no splashing.

This is the end of the stroke, when the paddle blade exits the water. This is the point in the stroke where the bottom arm should bend at the elbow. Again, there should be little to no splashing. Be careful you do not "scoop" water into the boat with the blade during the exit.

Towards the end of the race, we change the stroke rate, in order to re-focus the boat and to give that extra bit of a push into the finish line. The pace/power combination for the Finish may change from season to season, or even from race to race. The coaches will let you know what the Finish will be for each race.

These are the two paddlers sitting in the first row of the boat. They set the pace for the entire boat.

Personal Floatation Device or life jacket or life vest.

This is the portion of the stroke where the paddle blade has already exited the water and you begin to bring the paddle back to the "set-up" position. Do not flare out into an arc, the paddle should follow along the same vertical pane it took during the compression stroke. This should be the quickest portion of the stroke. The faster the recovery, the quicker you can begin the next stroke (but make sure you are in-sync with the rest of the boat).

The distance from the paddle blade to your hip. The longer the reach, the more time you have to apply power to your stroke. However, there is a fine line between a good reach and one that is too long. If you reach too far, you will not have enough power at the beginning of your stroke. It will be up to each paddler to determine how far is too far.

This is the very first position you maintain, before starting the stroke. You should be in the A-Frame. Your bottom arm should be fully extended and your top arm should be about 90% extended, with just a slight bend at the elbow. Your bottom hand should be aligned with the outside shoulder of the paddler in front of you. Both hands and the paddle should be completely outside the boat. The blade angle should be perpendicular to the lane/course. Your shoulders should be rotated (your outside shoulder should be forward of your inside shoulder). Your back should be angled towards the outside of the boat.

At the start of a race, we apply a specific combination of pace/power strokes in order to get the boat moving and to pick up speed. This combination usually consists of three parts; the launch, acceleration and transition. "Launch" will consist of a number of power strokes (3 - 10) where the entire blade is buried in the water and you apply as much power as possible to each stroke. "Acceleration" will consist of several sets of strokes (maybe 8-10 per set) where you apply a little less power and shorten your reach, but increase the stroke rate. The stroke rate will increase with each successive Acceleration set. The "Transition" usually consists of 3 strokes which gradually bring the pace down to the regular race pace. The stroke combination for the Start may change from season to season, or even from race to race. The coaches will let you know what the Start will be for each race.