How to Use Kayak Paddles

How to Use Kayak Paddles
Learning to use a kayak paddle is simple as long as you remember to utilize your whole body. It's important to be conscious of your body, how you are holding your paddle, and how you are moving, in order to prevent strains and other injuries. In just a few simple strokes, you can learn how to move your kayak, turn your kayak and even stop it. When first learning how to kayak remember to practice these strokes in calm, protected water first.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Paddle Kayak
  • Paddle
  • Kayak
Step 1
Learn proper hand placement. When you hold your paddle, your hands should be centered on the paddle roughly shoulder width apart. Your elbows should form a 90-degree angle. Use a firm but relaxed grip and try not to hold onto the paddle too tightly.
Step 2
Find the proper seating position in the kayak. You should be comfortably seated in your kayak with your knees bent. To make sure that your knees aren't too bent (or two straight) simply straighten out your legs in the kayak and then adjust your legs so that they extend one footwell behind where your straightened legs would.
Step 3
Work on your power stroke. Begin by reaching out and placing one end of the paddle into the water as far out as your toes and pull the blade back toward you. Don't worry about digging the paddle into the water. The blade only needs to be about two thirds of the way submerged. Use your torso to help bring the paddle back to you. As soon as the blade is back toward you and coming out of the water begin repeating this movement on the other side. You should start to notice that your hand and torso are forming a figure eight pattern as you paddle.
Step 4
Turn your kayak. To turn your kayak you will need to use a sweeping stroke by leaning forward holding the paddle so that it's almost horizontal in the water. Keep the blade as far away from the boat as possible and sweep the paddle backwards and away from you, which then turns the boat.
Step 5
Use a reverse stroke to move your kayak in reverse or to stop you. Hold your paddle behind you so that it is more vertical, inserting the blade into the water as far back as you can and using your lower hand, push the paddle back toward you. If you feel the kayak start to turn, don't worry; simply repeat the motion on the other side. You will have to complete this stroke two to three times on each side in order to actually stop your kayak.

Article Written By Shiromi Nassreen

Shiromi Nassreen has been writing professionally since 2005. She specializes in travel and outdoor topics, and her articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including "DISfunkshion Magazine" and Matador Travel. Nassreen holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies from Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama.

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