Learning how to paddle kayaks is easier said than done. Paddling kayaks is often difficult if you have no prior experience. It is fairly common for beginners to fall out of the kayak or to roll it when first starting out. These tips will help you learn how to paddle kayaks and reduce the number of times you fall out into the water. You may want to practice paddling a kayak on dry ground first before placing the kayak into the water.
Things you'll need:
Kayaking paddles and gear
- Paddle kayaks with the proper sitting position. Many people make the mistake of sitting incorrectly in the kayak, adding instability. The proper way to sit in a kayak is with your back firmly against the seat, keeping your knees bent comfortably. It’s important to experiment with the proper knee position because if your knees are kept too straight, your lower back will begin to hurt. However, if your knees are bent too much, you will hit them while paddling.
- Paddle kayaks with the proper hand placement. Finding your proper hand placement on the paddle is important. To find your hand placement, begin with your hands shoulder-length apart and centered. Hold the paddle centered above your head, creating an almost 90 degree angle with your elbows. The goal is to create an equal amount of paddle on both sides of your hand.
- Paddle kayaks with the basic forward power stroke. To perform the forward power stroke, place the paddle blade into the water near your toes. Pull the paddle back towards your hip. After the paddle has reached your hip, remove it from the water and repeat this on the other side of the kayak.
- Paddle kayaks with a sweep stroke. You can’t go in a straight line forever and are going to have to turn at some point. To turn a kayak you have to perform the sweep stroke. The sweep stroke is basically allowing the paddle blade to drift in an arc shape on the side of the kayak. The goal is to force the bow of the kayak away from the paddle blade, allowing the kayak to turn.
Learning how to paddle kayaks takes practice to keep the kayak upright and to put as little strain on the body as possible. It is not difficult to paddle kayaks but it will take practice and upper body strength. Maintaining physical fitness is important if you plan on kayaking frequently.