How to Do a Flatwater Clean Spin

How to Do a Flatwater Clean Spin
Whitewater kayaking requires a series of basic skills used to keep you afloat while you head downriver and through rapids. The flatware clean spin is a single stroke that turns the kayak a full 360 degrees, allowing you to move around rocks or other obstacles. The process to execute a successful flatwater clean spin requires using a variety of sweep and extended strokes. When practicing any kayak move or trick, be sure to paddle with a friend or partner, for safety's sake.


Difficulty: Challenging

Extended Sweep

Things You’ll Need:
  • Whitewater kayak
  • paddle
  • spray skirt
  • helmet
  • River partner
Step 1
Turn your torso (while in the kayak) away from your paddle blade you are going to place in the water. Place the paddle blade (either right or left side) as far forward and next to the kayak as you can. Keep the paddle blade halfway out of the water.
Step 2
Pull the paddle back to the rear of the kayak using your torso and arm strength. Make the motion one smooth and fluid stroke, avoiding choppy and jerky movements. Let the kayak spin counter to the side of the paddle sweep stroke. Choke up on the paddle handle with the non-working hand (the hand away from the paddle blade that is in the water).
Step 3
Use your hips and torso to sway the kayak in conjunction with the paddle sweep movement. Let the water and paddle move the kayak in a 360-degree movement from the position. Practice this stroke until the kayak does a full 360-degree turn. It is not uncommon for the first several attempts to fall short of the full 360.
Step 4
Close your eyes after you achieve the first full 360, single stroke turn. Repeat the extended flatwater clean spin stroke with your eyes closed to get a full feel of the kayak, your torso and the paddle, and how they all work together to spin the boat.

Tips & Warnings

Keep you knees braced high into the boat when first executing the flatwater clean spin. Use your knees as a brace to help spin the boat with the paddle.
Never paddle alone. Keep your river partner next to you or along the shore and in visual sight when learning new tricks and moves.

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.