There are five kayak paddling techniques that will help any kayaker while out on the water. These strokes can help boaters get their kayak wherever they want and also get out of any situation they don’t want to be in.
- Forward stroke. This is the most basic kayak paddling technique. Put your oar in the water out in front of you, near your foot. Keeping the oar perpendicular to the boat, “unwind” your body, pulling the oar to the back of the kayak and propelling yourself forward. Pull the blade out of the water parallel to the kayak, which will help you avoid splashing yourself.
- Use your back muscles. The muscles in your back are far stronger and more durable than the muscles in your arms. A basic kayak paddling technique is to place your oar in the water and turn your body using your back muscles to unwind your torso. This will keep your arms fresher longer and will give a stronger, more efficient stroke.
- Sweep stroke. This basic kayak paddling technique helps you make big turns in your kayak without losing momentum. To turn the front of the kayak in one direction, place the paddle in the water as you do with the forward stroke on the oppose side of the direction in which you want to go. Then make a big, wide sweeping stroke, reaching far away from the boat and finishing your stroke when you touch the back of the kayak.
- Moving sideways. One of the basic kayak paddling techniques is a draw stroke, which allows you to move your kayak sideways toward your destination. Place your paddle in the water in the direction you want to move. Sweep the paddle back and forth, as though you are spreading butter on bread, with the paddle turned so that each stroke moves you in the direction you want to go.
- Back paddling. Back paddling is almost the reverse basic kayak paddling technique of the forward stroke. Place the paddle near the back of the kayak and twist forward, propelling the kayak backwards. Pull the oar out of the water and place the opposite end in the water and repeat the motion.