Basic Kayaking Tips

Basic Kayaking Tips
Kayaking can be very awkward the first time you slide into a boat. Soon, though, you'll feel fairly comfortable paddling around, and you may start to think about building serious skills. As a beginner, equipment, paddling and edging are important areas for you to build your knowledge and abilities. Use these steps to build a foundation in basic kayaking skills.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Get the right paddle. Just as boats vary by use and preference, paddles come in many designs and lengths. Longer paddles are designed for a more relaxed, even stroke and are often used by recreational and sea kayakers. Short paddles allow a powerful and compact vertical stroke for whitewater maneuverability.
Step 2
Some paddles are specific for right- or left-handed paddlers. Check your paddle's documentation to see if it is dominant-hand specific.
Step 3
Try offsetting your paddle's blades. You should see a small button near the middle of the shaft. Press it in and twist the right side of the shaft so the blade rotates toward you. If you are left-handed, twist the left side instead.
Step 4
To paddle with offset blades, keep your dominant hand firm around the shaft and the other hand loose. The paddle will twist through your loose hand with each stroke while your dominant hand controls the blade angle. This technique often allows for better muscle efficiency than parallel-bladed paddles.
Step 5
Engage the large muscles in your torso with each stroke. Instead of using your arms to pull the blade through the water, use the muscles in your shoulder and back to power the stroke. Try to perform each stroke without making a curling motion with your arm. Instead, pull your entire arm back, letting the angle at your elbow naturally change with the position of the paddle.
Step 6
Exercise the muscles in your hips and lower torso. You use these muscles to control the edge of your boat, or its angle to the water. Canoe & Kayak magazine suggests practicing holding an edge in calm water. Shift your weight to one hip while contracting your other hip and oblique muscle. Your kayak should roll onto its side; hold it there for 10 seconds before switching to the other side. Work on increasing the angle that you can hold.

Tips & Warnings

Besides practicing in flat water, always have a friend with you when you are working on new techniques. Having someone nearby is safer and, if he is also a kayaker, he can see flaws in your technique that you may not notice by yourself.

Article Written By Gregory Johnson

Greg's passion for the outdoors has led him in hikes across the United States and over diverse terrain. Though he currently resides in the foothills of Appalachia, Greg spends his summer months working and hiking in such places as Tucson, Arizona, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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