How to Perform Kayak Tricks

How to Perform Kayak Tricks
Whitewater kayaking is an adrenaline-packed sport requiring skill and patience and a steely nerve. The sport is enhanced by learning new tricks, techniques and rodeostyle maneuvers. Tricks include eddy surfing, "boofing", deliberately keeping the bow of your kayak underwater, and running waterfalls. To learn these tricks, a pedagogy needs to be followed to build the skills and techniques to execute them safely and efficiently. When practicing and learning new whitewater tricks, for safety always have a partner with you at the river.


Difficulty: Challenging

Watch and Observe

Things You’ll Need:
  • Whitewater kayak
  • Personal flotation device
  • Helmet
  • Paddle
  • Kayak partner
Step 1
Decide what new trick you wish to learn by watching more advanced kayakers. Observe the movements of the tricks performed by the kayakers and commit the movements to memory. Watch where the paddle placements and body placements are off the kayakers body and stroke.
Step 2
Discuss the methods of the trick with your kayak partner and show him where on the river you will practice. Set up a safety procedure if the trick fails or you get in trouble.
Step 3
Position your kayak partner on the edge of the river where you will practice the trick so he has access to you for an extraction if needed.
Step 4
Enter your kayak and begin your downriver paddle until you reach the desired location. Paddle or throw a brace (a technique to roll or stabilize the kayak) as necessary for the trick. Abandon the attempt if you feel hesitant or if you overshoot the desired location. Portage the kayak back to the put-in and try again if you had to abandon the first attempt.
Step 5
Eddy out or paddle to the shore after the successful completion of the trick, if done properly. Discuss with your partner what he observed, where improvements can be made, and if he thought the trick was executed properly.
Step 6
Go back to the beginning and repeat the process until too tired for more, or until you feel comfortable with the new skill and trick.

Tips & Warnings

Read about your trick online or in books before attempting.
Never try to learn new tricks on the river without a partner or safety person along with you.
Never whitewater kayak without a helmet or personal flotation device.

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.

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