One of the basic things you have to know in kayaking is how to paddle a kayak correctly. It will help you track in the water and go exactly where you want to go while avoiding any possible body harm.
There are a lot of ways and techniques on to paddle a kayak, but you have to know how to hold the kayak paddle the right way first.
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Right Way of Holding the Kayak Paddle
- Hold the shaft of the kayak paddle and make sure that the space between your hands is the same as the width of your shoulder or a little less. Spacing your hands too wide will give you power but will also tire you out rapidly. Having a too narrow space between your hands, on the contrary, will provide too little strength in every stroke.
- Avoid holding the shaft in a death grip or too tightly. This can cause unnecessary fatigue. Instead, keep it in a relaxed grip with your fingers slightly open to create a freehold.
- To effectively and loosely hold the shaft, press your index fingers and the thumbs, forming an O shape. It will also remind you to push the kayak paddle during the forward strokes.
- You can identify if your hands are both in the correct position and learn how to paddle a kayak correctly. The knuckles should be pointed up, and one of the paddle blades should be vertical to create a power hand.
How to Do the Forward Stroke Correctly
One of the core techniques on how to paddle a kayak correctly is knowing how to do the proper forward stroke. It is the most fundamental technique in paddling and will require more than your arm power. It involves a combination of your upper arms and your core muscles. It is important to know how to paddle a kayak correctly by doing forward strokes to minimize shoulder and arm fatigue.
- Dip the paddle on one side of the kayak and catch the blades’ worth of water. Always remember to wind your torso when you do a stroke. When you place the blade on the right side of the kayak, the right part of your rib cage should also be angled toward the front.
- Rotate or unwind your torso when the blade pushes the water. This is when you use your core muscles to push past the blade and not pull it through the water. It will increase the efficiency of the stroke and will also reduce fatigue.
- When the paddle pops up from the water, you are now ready for the next stroke. Do the next stroke on the other side of the boat, with the other side of your rib cage angled in the same direction as the paddle.
The ideal angle when doing a forward stroke is a matter of preference. High angles can reduce the wind resistance. However, going beyond 60 degrees can cause discomfort in the wrist of the paddler.
Tips in Doing Forward Strokes
Since it is a fundamental paddling technique, doing forward strokes is something you have to master on how to paddle a kayak correctly. You also need to add power to every forward stroke to make it efficient in the water.
- The ideal place where you can dip your paddle is in the area that is roughly parallel to your feet.
- When you grip the kayak paddle, position one of your hands to just about your shoulder height.
- Consider both of your hands as extensions of the body and imagine that you are throwing a punch when you execute the forward stroke.
- For an additional burst of power into the stroke, throw an imaginary punch from the shoulder. For the extra power boost, add an aggressive torso rotation every time you execute the stroke.
How to Do the Sweep Stroke Correctly
Another essential thing to know on how to paddle a kayak correctly is doing the sweep stroke. It is the simplest thing to do to turn a moving kayak. It is also a way to turn while still sustaining the forward momentum of the kayak.
- While still maintaining a comfortable balance, lean the kayak on one edge. Then, extend your arms in front and dip the paddle blade to as near as your feet and begin to sweep.
- Use the blade to sweep a wide arc toward the end of the kayak or into the stern. Add some power to the rotation of your body to help optimize the turn.
- Lift the paddle after it touches or comes near the stern and finish the stroke. It should then be a nice arcing turn with just a little momentum loss.
Knowing the proper techniques in paddling is more advantageous compared to just having the upper body strength. This is why learning how to paddle a kayak correctly is a must when you want to go kayaking. You can also read a few kayaking tips on our website.