How to Hold a Kayak Paddle

How to Hold a Kayak Paddle
Learning how to hold a kayak paddle properly is one of the first steps for beginning kayakers. In fact, even experienced kayakers sometimes hold the paddle incorrectly from time to time, grasping it backward or upside down. It's important to hold your kayak paddle the right way so you travel through the water safely and effectively.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Familiarize yourself with the parts of a kayak paddle. The paddle's handle is known as the shaft, with two blades affixed at the end of the shaft that dip into the water. Drip rings are the raised circles on both sides of the paddle next to the blades to help prevent water from running onto the kayaker. The better you understand the anatomy of a kayak paddle, the more likely you'll be to handle it properly.
Step 2
Locate the part of the paddle's blade that is smooth or convex and face it toward yourself. This is the direction the paddle should be facing when you pull yourself through water in the kayak.
Step 3
Grasp the paddle with both hands, loosely gripping the shaft with your fingers. To test whether your hands are holding onto the handle in the right spots, keep your grasp and lift the entire paddle over your head so that your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Both hands should be equidistant from the blades on both sides, and lined up against the drip rings.
Step 4
Check to see that the knuckles on both hands are aligned with the top edges of the blades as you're holding the paddle. This strategic grip will help ensure more precise control of your kayak once you're in the water.

Tips & Warnings

Do not begin kayaking unless you are sure you understand how to properly hold the kayak paddle.
Resist the urge to let your grip stray from the two sides of the paddle's shaft as you kayak for an extended period, or you will slowly lose the ability to control your path through the water.


Article Written By Laura Dixon

Currently based in France, Laura Dixon has been a freelance writer since 2008. Dixon specializes in various topics including health, travel and culture. Previously, she worked as a weekly newspaper reporter in Central California. Dixon holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and international relations from the University of California.

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