Basic Kayak Paddling

Basic Kayak Paddling
While kayaking and paddling isn't rocket science, there are techniques that will help you be a more efficient and better paddler.

Your Paddle

Touring kayak paddles can be one or two piece. The main section is called the shaft, with the ends called blades. When you hold the paddle, grip it gently but firm enough so it does not leave your hand.

The Paddler's Box

With the paddle in your hands, make sure the concave curve is facing you. Bend at the elbows and hold the paddle in front of you. The shaft should reach no higher than chin level. Keep your hands apart the same width as your shoulders. The distance between your combing on the kayak and where you have positioned your hands and arms is called the Paddler's Box.

Torso Twist

Twisting at the torso, dip the blade of your paddle, one side at a time, into the water just far enough so the top edge of the blade is no more than an inch or so underwater. Reach forward without extending or locking your elbows and "sweep" backward with the paddle. Exit the water with the blade and you will be in position to repeat the motion on the opposite side.

Power From the Abs

When this stroke is done properly you, should feel the majority of the power coming from your abdomen. If you begin to feel muscle fatigued in the shoulders, you know you are using too much arm power and not enough from your abdomen.

Remember the Paddler's Box

Visualize a three dimensional "box" going from your kayak combing to the chin level and extending to where you dip the blade into the water. This is the most efficient range of motion for your beginning paddle stroke. When in question, always fall back to your paddler's box.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.