Freestyle Kayak Rules

Freestyle Kayak Rules
Freestyle kayaking is a competitive sport that allows paddlers to perform a range of acrobatic tricks and maneuvers such as rotations, flips, cartwheels and spins for points. The most famous annual competition is the World Cup of Freestyle Kayak, which attract paddlers from around the world. If you enter a freestyle kayak competition, you must agree to the rules and regulations set forth by the rules committee.

Moves Definitions

Points are awarded based on move completions and bonuses. USA Freestyle Kayak rules dictate that a move must be completed before a kayak crosses a line break, which is determined by a rules committee prior to the competition. Each move must be completed according to an accepted definition for a point(s) value to be awarded. For example, if a 180-degree rotation is completed without the use of a paddle or hand, the move or trick is considered "clean" and awarded bonus points.


There are no boat restrictions for freestyle kayak competitions, but safety measures must be observed. Competitors are allowed to use a double bladed paddle, and during a competition competitors must remain seated with their legs out in front. Paddlers are generally prohibited from wearing visible signage or promotional materials and apparel unless they are approved by the rules committee. This restriction is perpetual for each event and may extend to materials that identify a paddler's national federation of origin.

General Rules

Freestyle kayak events are encouraged to include a downriver, boater-cross or a creek race, both of which are subject to International Coach Federation (ICF) Freestyle and Squirt rules and scoring procedures. All communications for an event must be posted in advance of the event (24 hours) and include a detailed explanation of the scoring system; list of all cash prizes, competition classes, rules, requirements and registration information; location directions and lodging information and event results.

Article Written By Charlie Gaston

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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