Recently, many people are getting into kayaking and are enjoying the fun and excitement the river has to offer.
When you’re starting, one of the most important things to do is take a beginner lesson; the problem is:
Not all kayak stores provide these courses, so I wanted to attempt to deliver an online course for you. And to do this, I’m going to teach you the ten most essential paddling techniques you need to learn.
So, if you’re interested in learning these, don’t go anywhere. Using these ten paddling strokes will make you more confident, comfortable, and efficient.
Sounds good, right?
Here are the basic strokes I’m going to cover in this article:
- How to get in a kayak from a dock
- How to get in a kayak from the shore
- How to hold your paddle
- How to maintain your balance
- The basic forward strokee
- The basic reverse stroke
- The basic forward strokee
- Turning technique: How to use your paddle as a rudder
- Turning technique: Forward and reverse sweep strokes
- Turning technique: How to Carve Turns
- Moving sideways with a paddle draw stroke
1. How To Get In A Kayak From A Dock
Getting in a kayak safely is the first step to starting kayaking, and for some, it’s not too easy.
But mastering how you get in a kayak makes it easy to start your journey. If you’re looking for a dock, try to find one close to the waterline.
This is what we need to do when getting in a kayak from a dock:
- Check that your equipment is working correctly, and make sure you’re wearing a life vest.
- When wearing a spray skirt, make sure you fold it up to avoid sitting on it.
- Place the paddle on the dock, where you will reach it easily.
Once you have everything in place, there’s one more thing you need to think about.
When you start to move your weight over the kayak, it needs to be exactly at the centerline; otherwise, the kayak will tip over.
- Firmly grasp the rear of the cockpit.
- Check your feet are also near the centerline of the kayak.
- The first foot needs to step on the boat's centerline, and the side of the kayak should be slightly close to the dock.
- Your two legs will enter the kayak in a cross-legged position and then stretch out.
- Keep your whole center of gravity as low as possible, and use your legs to control the distance between the kayak and dock.
2. How To Get In A Kayak From The Shore
There will be times when you can’t use a dock to enter your kayak. And this means you’re going to find a calm place to enter the kayak.
One of the best places to do this is from the shore and in water deep enough where you won’t get stuck when you sit in the kayak.
The steps are as follows:
- Find a support point, such as a stone on the shoreside.
- Put the kayak between your legs so the seat is right below you.
- Place your paddle right behind the cockpit, and lean the other end against the rock.
- Grab the paddle and the cockpit with the thumb of one hand.
- Use your other hand to keep the paddle fixed to the stone.
- Keep your weight mainly on your feet.
- Slowly move weight to the supporting side of the foot and hand.
- Lift your foot inside the cockpit.
- Sit in and raise the other foot inside the cockpit.
3. How To Hold Your Paddle
Before I explain how to hold your paddle, I should first introduce you to the basics of your paddle:
- Most paddles have concave radian. The concave side is called the force application surface because it’s this side that produces the power to propel the kayak. The other side is called the back.
- Most paddle blades are made, so the upper edge is longer than the lower edge. To ensure that the paddle travels smoothly through the water, the short blade of the paddle is below. The long blade is on top.
Okay then, let's learn how to hold the paddle:
- The distance between two hands holding oars is roughly the same as between your two elbows or slightly smaller.
○ Detailed Description: Hold the oar symmetrically with both hands so that the grasping surface of the oar is facing yourself. Lift the oar behind the head. The angle between the forearm and the forearm is about 30 degrees, the distance between our elbows.
- When kayaking, you can freely adjust the spacing of two hands to distribute the load on each muscle better.
- If more rowing force or control is needed, the spacing can be increased slightly. On the contrary, it can be reduced moderately if taxiing for a long distance.
4. How To Maintain Your Balance
When kayaking, many situations will affect the balance of the kayak. The following actions can keep you balanced:
- Try to keep your upper body upright.
- Keeping your vision on the horizon will help maintain balance.
- When the kayak is tilted or pushed by the waves, use the strength of the waist to reset and maintain balance naturally.
If you lose your balance somewhere and need support, you just need to hit the water quickly with the back of your paddle blades. This will give you excellent support for a second, and you can use this force to restore your balance immediately.
5. The Basic Forward Stroke
Learning the right technology for the forward stroke can ensure that your paddle is faster, more efficient, and less stressful to your body.
Your body and legs play a significant role in kayaking, and your shoulders and arms only play a role in transmitting strength.
Here are the primary elements of a good forward stroke:
- Sit straight, relax your shoulders and open your chest to make breathing easier and more effective.
- Press your feet against the footpegs and bend your knees slightly.This position can apply force to the inside of the cabin if necessary to provide additional balance.
- Keeping your legs together allows better torso rotation and makes paddling more efficient.
- Begin the paddling stroke by uncoiling your torso and keeping the lower arm near straight. Keep pressing the stroke-side foot against the footpeg to support the stroke. Try to generate more power at the beginning of the stroke, less at the end. That way you create power with the strong muscles of your torso, and right when your paddle is in the water at its most favourable angle.
- Keep your upper arm relaxed and hold the paddle loosely, so your muscles can rest. Keep your upper hand at about eye level, and allow your upper hand to move across your body, to keep the paddle vertical.
- End the stroke when your lower hand is about level with your your belly. Continuing further would feel natural, but it just slows you down.
6. The Basic Reverse Stroke
Reverse stroke also means paddling backward, and it’s much the same as reversed forward stroke and can also be used for reducing speed in waves or when approaching for a rescue.
- Keeping your legs together allows for better torso rotation.
- Completely submerge the blade on the side near the hip.
- Rotate your torso when the blade moves in front of you.
- When your paddles are flush with your feet, slice them out of the water.
7. Turning Technique: How To Use Your Paddle As A Rudder
Using your paddle as a stern rudder can effectively change the kayak's direction. But it also has both advantages and disadvantages.
Using your paddle as a stern rudder can quickly and powerfully maintain your direction or change your direction when wind, waves, or currents try to exceed control.
It will slow you down and break the rhythm of your stroke.
To learn this technique, first, let the boat move forward normally and get enough speed. After a normal forward stroke, let the paddle stay in the water and continue the stroke behind you until the paddle is almost parallel to the kayak.
You can control the upper edge of the paddle to achieve three ways of steering:
- At this time, if you let the upper edge of the paddle surface turn out slightly away from the hull, the kayak will change direction to the side where the paddle is in.
- The kayak will go straight if the paddle surface is perpendicular to the water surface.
- If the upper edge of the paddle surface is close to the hull, the ship will turn to the opposite side.
8. Turning Technique: Forward And Reverse Sweep Strokes
Compared with using your paddle as a stern rudder in the previous section, the forward and reverse sweep strokes will be more appropriate if you don't want to affect your speed.
- Before learning this technique, you must master forward stroke.
- When the blade enters the water, try to move forward, and the blade surface should be vertical when entering the water.
- The upper hand of the paddle should also cooperate in lowering the paddle that’s facing the water.
- After the paddle enters the water, start to make the paddle move in a large circular arc on the side of the kayak, from the bow to the stern.
- When drawing a large arc, use the strength of the upper body. Keep your hands as still as possible.
- If you want the kayak to turn quickly in its place, an excellent addition to the forward sweep stroke is a reverse sweep stroke. It's just a sweep forward and backward, starting from the back and finally close to your toes.
9.Turning Technique: How To Carve Turns
Carving turns is a important technology. It makes it very easy to control the direction of your kayak in a competition. This method requires a certain angle between the kayak and the water to achieve the purpose of steering in the water.
- Turn right. The ship tilted to the left. (turn right and lift your right hip)
- Turn left. The ship tilted to the right. (turn left and lift your left hip)
- The turning direction of the hull is opposite to the direction of the roll.
- The steering amplitude varies with the angle of roll. Pay attention to leg, knee, and waist forces.
10. Moving Sideways With A Paddle Draw Stroke
There are two methods you can use to move your kayak sideways, and in this section, we’re going to explain them to you:
#1 Pull and lift translation method
This is the most basic way to achieve translation:
- The power face of a paddle is facing towards the kayak.
- The inclination angle between the propeller and water surfaces is 30 ~ 60.
- Pull to the hull one by one and translate the kayak.
#2 Moving sideways with sculling draw
Moving sideways with a sculling draw is the most challenging translation method, but it is also the most elegant paddle method. When you want to move alongside a friend's kayak, one of the best techniques is the sculling draw.
- Lean over. Insert the paddle vertically into the water. Your arms form an approximate right angle.
- The power face of a paddle is facing towards the kayak.
- Move the paddle and make it form a thin figure 8 on the water's surface.
- Keep your upper hand in a relatively fixed position, and start waving the blade in water by moving your lower hand.
- The trick is to move the paddle back and forth parallel to the kayak while turning the blades' power face slightly toward the direction of the sweep. This draws the kayak towards the paddle.