Paddling is the primary motion that lets a kayaker move freely on different kinds of water. The techniques and the strokes of paddling are the same in all forms of kayaking like white water, recreational and flat water. Mastering the art of paddling is the means to gaining freedom and confidence to venture into the versatile waters of the world. Read this article below to learn the basics of how to paddle and its techniques.
Holding your paddle: Steps to Follow
Step 1: Pick up your paddle and hold it with both your hands. Let your palm embrace the cylindrical surface where your knuckle is pointed upwards.
Step 2: The paddle blades have a curved-pointed end and a short end. The curved section must face up, and the shorter end must face downwards.
Step 3: Keep your paddle down, place your little finger at the end of the blades, and stretch. Calculate the distance between your little finger and thumb finger. Now grip the paddle at the end of your thumb finger. This method is ideal for finding the right holding spot for balance.
Step 4: Now, raise your hands and hold the paddle in front of your chest. The space between your hands and chest must resemble the shape of a rectangle. This position allows you to move efficiently.
Now that you are familiar with how to hold a paddle correctly while kayaking, let’s look at the different strokes of paddling.
The Forward Stroke: Steps to Follow
The first and fundamental technique in paddling is the forward stroke. This stroke lets you move forward on the water with hand and shoulder coordination.
Step 1: Lift your paddle vertically and dip it into the water one side at a time
Step 2: Slice the water from your feet and push
Step 3: Don’t let the blade hit your kayak. Maintain a small distance for free flow
Step 4: Take the blade out when it reaches your waist
Step 5: Lean forward for more balance
Step 6: Repeat this motion on both sides to go forward and maintain a track
The Reverse Stroke: Steps to Follow
If you don’t want to turn your kayak and still move backward, reverse stroke is your best friend.
Step 1: Dip your blade near your hip
Step 2: Lean backwards to maintain balance
Step 3: Slice and push the water ahead
Step 4: Take the blade out when it reaches your feet
Step 5: Continue paddling until you want to stop or increase the pace
Sweeping: Steps to Follow
A kayak never moves in a straight line. You will notice this when you practice the forward stroke. It moves in a zig-zag manner because of the force applied on a single side at a time. If you continuously slice the water on the same side, the kayak will naturally turn in the opposite direction. It’s just like navigating the handlebar of a bike or a cycle. The sweeping is a single-sided technique used to turn the kayak in our desired direction.
Step 1: Think of the direction you want to turn
Step 2: Now, immerse the blade near your feet on the opposite side
Step 3: Sweep the blade in a curved motion like the alphabet C
Step 4: Take the blade out of water when it reaches the stern
Step 5: Do this a couple of times till you turn perfectly
These are the four basic points you have to learn to paddle effectively. Kayaking is a lifestyle sport, and the art of paddling needs continuous practice on different types of water. In fact, even a pro kayaker needs time to get a hang of the basics again after a short break from kayaking. So, practice is key to becoming a natural at it :)