Dragon Boat Terminology: Complete Guide

Dragon boating comes with its unique set of terminologies, much to the chagrin of newbies who get lost trying to figure out what their coach is trying to say.

Understanding these terms is crucial for newbies looking to get into the sport, not only for enhancing maximum performance but also for safety.

Table of Contents

Boat Terms

  • Bow: The front of the boat, leading the vessel forward.
  • Stern: The rear of the boat, crucial for steering.
  • Gunwale (gunnel): The sides of the boat, providing structural integrity.
  • Strokes: The first paddler on both sides, setting the pace for the team.
  • Cox: The steersperson, responsible for guiding and directing the boat.
  • Drummer: The individual setting the rhythm and pace for the team.

Basic Commands

Mastering these basic commands is essential for effective team coordination and safety during practices and races:

  • Back it Down: Reversing the boat's direction.
  • Paddles Up: Ready position for starting or resuming paddling.
  • Go or Take-It-Away: Command to begin paddling.
  • Brace the Boat: Paddlers lay their blade flat on the water and spread it back and forth like butter to stabilize the boat in choppy conditions.
  • Hold the Boat or Check the Boat: Paddlers dig the paddle blade into the water to stop the boat.
  • Let It Run: Stop paddling.

hold the boat dragon boat boat command

To enhance your understanding of dragon boat technique, explore our dedicated section on dragon boat technique.

Other Terms

  • Attention, please: A racing command given by the race official right before the horn goes off. Paddles are not allowed to move at this point until the horn goes off.
  • Catch: The initial phase of the paddle stroke, crucial for propulsion.
  • Draw stroke or Draw: A lateral movement of the paddle for steering or positioning.
  • Engine room: The middle section of the boat, known for powerful paddlers.
  • Exit: The final phase of the paddle stroke where the blade is removed from the water.
  • Finish: The concluding phase of a race where paddlers give it every last bit of energy they have left.
  • Hinge: Movement where the paddler is bending forward from the waist.
  • Pull: The main phase of the stroke where the paddles are in the water propelling the boat forward.
  • Reach/extension: Refers to using hinge and rotation to stretch forward into the catch, allowing for a long and powerful stroke.
  • Ready, Ready: A cue for paddlers to prepare for the upcoming stroke sequence.
  • Recovery: The phase between strokes where paddlers move their paddles forward in the air to go back in for the next stroke.
  • Rotation: Refers to the torso movement during the stroke, crucial for power and efficiency.
  • Rushing: A situation where a paddler or group of paddlers in the boat is/are paddling faster than the one/ones in front of them.
  • Stroke Rate: The number of strokes per minute, a critical factor in pacing and race strategy. Care should be taken to ensure the stroke rate is not too high for the team to manage.

For insights into joining a dragon boat team and more, visit our section on how to join a dragon boat team.

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