How to Row a Kayak

How to Row a Kayak
A kayak will give you the freedom and control of a real outdoor adventure whether in open water or rapids. Even beginners can quickly master the basics without getting dunked too often. Becoming skilled at the correct paddling techniques will speed up your learning curve and get you where you want to go safely and efficiently.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Basic Rowing

Things You’ll Need:
  • Kayak Paddle Calm waterway
  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • Calm waterway
Step 1
Sit in the kayak with your back against the back of the seat.
Step 2
Bend your knees and hook your heels into one of the wells in the bottom of the kayak. If your legs feel too straight, move up one well. You should feel stable and comfortable but be able to dip your paddle without hitting your knees.
Step 3
Hold the paddle over your head with its center directly above your head. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart and elbows slightly bent.
Step 4
Holding the paddle stationary with the right hand, loosen the left hand enough to let the paddle rotate.
Step 5
Scoop downward with the blade of the paddle slicing through the water at a slight angle. The angle of the blade will determine what direction your kayak will move and how fast.
Step 6
Pull the paddle out of the water and reverse the hold to paddle on the other side.

Power Stroke

Step 1
Hold the paddle as you did in section one to begin the power stroke. There are a number of different strokes for any given situation, but the power stroke is the one you'll use the most.
Step 2
Lean forward and extend the paddle over the water as far as you can comfortably. Since you will be using this stroke a lot, don't risk hurting your back or overusing muscles uncomfortably by reaching out too far. Listen to your body.
Step 3
Pull the paddle through the water with a flat blade. Adjust the angle of the blade if the pull is throwing you out of a straight line.
Step 4
Reverse the grip and motion to the other side. This should keep you going straight.

Tips & Warnings

It's best to practice your strokes in calm water near shore until you get the hang of them---but still count on getting wet.

Article Written By Catherine Rayburn-Trobaug

Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh has been a writer and college writing professor since 1992. She has written for international companies, published numerous feature articles in the "Wilmington News-Journal," and won writing contests for her poetry and fiction. Rayburn-Trobaugh earned a Master of Arts in English from Wright State University.

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