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Kayak: Paddling Basics

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Myrtle Beach Kayak Tours

Flatwater kayaking will give you the freedom to explore and truly enjoy any body of water that your heart desires. The key to maximizing your enjoyment and adventure time on the water, is learning how to properly and efficiently control your craft. By learning proper technique, form, and a few basic paddling strokes you can begin paddling efficiently without overexerting yourself and end up exactly where you intended.

Topics covered include:

We recommend practicing in a calm and safe environment until you can perform each paddling technique without thinking about them.

How To Hold Your Paddle

Holding your paddle correctly is so important to having an efficient, non-fatiguing stroke. Work smarter not harder is the key.

Holding a Paddle Properly Involves 4 Things:

Know Your Paddle Blades:

Learning is easier using matched blades. If your blades are feathered look at the middle of the paddle’s shaft for a push button and holes going around the shaft. Press the push button and rotate the two halves of the shaft until the blades are parallel.

Your blades are asymmetrical if one side of each blade is a little shorter than the other side. The difference can be very subtle but you should be able to notice a difference in the two sides of each blade. Asymmetrical blades help you track straight with ease as you pull the blade through the water. Symmetrical blades are as the name implies perfectly symmetrical on each side of the blade. You can learn with either type of blade but we do recommend and prefer asymmetrical blades.

Most blades are concaved on one side of the blade. This shape lets you grab more water with every paddle stroke and paddle more efficiently and effectively.

Orient Your Paddles:

While holding your paddle you want to check three things to ensure you are properly oriented with your paddle.

If you are not oriented with the paddle like this, simply rotate and or flip the paddle till you are in the proper position. 

Adjust Where You Hold The Shaft:

When you bring the paddle down in front of you, you’ll have “the paddler’s box,” a shape formed by the shaft, your arms and chest. Maintaining that box as you stroke helps you rotate your torso correctly, another key to good technique.

Relax Your Grip:

A relaxed grip helps prevent your arms, wrists and hands from becoming fatigued as well helping prevent blisters on your hands. It also reminds you to rely on your torso instead of your arms and shoulders to power your paddle.

Forward Stroke

The forward stroke is the most fundamental stroke of kayaking. You will spend the majority of your time putting this stroke to use. The most important element of this stroke is learning to engage your core and back muscles to do most of the work; not your arms and shoulders.

Then repeat with the opposite out of water blade.


Reverse Stroke

Slowing down, stopping, or backing up a kayak can be done with the reverse stroke. The stroke is the exact opposite of the forward stroke.

Then repeat with the opposite out of water blade.

Sweep Stroke

Instead of repeatedly doing the forward stroke on one side of the kayak. Implement the sweep stroke into your arsenal of strokes to efficiently turn the kayak.

The result should be a gradual arcing turn with little loss of momentum. You can repeat the sweep stroke if needed, or resume your forward stroke.

Draw Stroke

Draw strokes are used to move your boat sideways. This stroke is useful if you need to pull close to a dock or another boat:

Typically, several draw strokes are needed, so you can repeat the stroke.

Myrtle Beach Kayak Tours


Kayak: Paddling Basics Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on linkedin Share on pinterest Share on google Share on email Flatwater kayaking will give

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