Kayaking Paddle Technique

Kayaking Paddle Technique

In this article, we will describe the Kayaking paddle technique. The kayak sports result from the need to use a boat without paddling and hence, the paddle techniques used in kayaking have evolved.

Kayaking is the most popular paddling sport this time. The sport is played worldwide, where people are enjoying the clean water of lakes and rivers. Kayaks are used for fishing, and racing, catamaran, and drift kayaks. The paddles used to play this sport vary from boat to boat and depend upon the terrain. Some paddle-like canoe while others use a kayak paddle technique. So you will find a wide variety of paddling techniques in kayaking.

Type of Kayaking

Kayaking can be classified into two categories. There is sea kayaking where the paddlers use a kayak as their means of transport in the first category. The second category is white water kayaking, used for wade through rivers and waterfalls.

  • Whitewater Kayaking:

For experienced kayakers, this is a serious kayaking activity. You will be wading through the river, riding a rapid of waterfalls, and traveling to other places. Advanced paddlers love whitewater or play water kayaking but beginner kayakers should not try it as almost no experience is required.

  • Flatwater Kayaking:

Here the kayaker will enjoy a strip of water or lake or river. The paddlers will mainly use this activity to fish, racing, or just explore the area.

  • Sea Kayaking:

The kayaks used in sea kayaking are much smaller than those used in whitewater and flat water. They are very good at handling rocky shorelines and vertical waves. They come with spray skirts that help keep the water out of the boat while paddling through rough waters.

  • Kayak Fishing:

It is a very good kayaking activity that involves fishing. The kayakers can also enjoy sailing and have the opportunity to fish in areas that are not accessible by motorboats. When you think of it, fishing is not a sport; it’s an activity. Fishing kayaks can be seen in several colors because they are used for different types of fishing like discarding tackle, casting tackle, fly tackle.

  • Kayaks For Lake:

They are used for fishing or just leisure time activities. The boats will usually have outboard motors attached to them, making maneuvering much easier.

  • Pedal Kayak or Rotational Kayaks:

There is no paddling involved in this sport but still, the kayaks are used. Adjustable footpegs are attached to the boat, allowing the paddlers to rotate their feet. The kayak paddle technique is used in a standing posture and on flat water. It is a very good energy workout for the upper body or arms and legs.

Kayak Paddling Techniques: Proper Technique

1. Paddling: To start, simply put one foot into the kayak. Slowly push it forward. Then, try to initiate a rolling motion by pulling your feet back and then forward again. This will help keep your forward momentum. Push the other foot in the kayak as well.

2. Paddle stroke: After you have started paddling, let go of the paddle and push your feet to the kayak again. The main purpose of this is to make sure all of the water that was trapped by your feet goes out of the kayak. Otherwise, it would be impossible to slide your feet forward.

3. Foot position: Try to place your foot in line with the rest of your body. Your feet should not be placed far forward or backward.

4. Paddle: At this point, you will have to use your paddle to propel your kayak forward. Ensure that you keep the blade parallel to the horizon and the blade face facing up. This will help you maintain your balance.

5. Easing: To maintain the boat’s momentum, you have to ease off on the paddle. This will prevent your kayak from stopping abruptly and will help you turn in more graceful moves.

6. Paddling strokes: When paddling, use the edges of your paddle instead of the flat surface. This will give you better steering control for tighter turns.

7. Keep your kayak moving: To keep your kayak moving, keep two feet in the boat and the paddle on the water. Always remember to use your feet to get back on track in case you lose control of your boat.

8. Foot position: The foot position is very important in this part of kayaking. Make sure both feet are flat on the kayak and that they are parallel to each other.

9. Paddle position: The paddle should be kept straight and parallel to your kayak. The blade’s angle should be about 30 degrees to the water surface.

10. Deep edging: By paddling along a line, you can create eddies. The act of this is known as deep edging. By doing this, you will be able to keep your kayak moving smoothly forward. This is especially helpful when the water level seems to have dropped too low.

Kayak Tips On Basic Kayak Strokes:

1. In-Line: This is a very basic paddling stroke to get your kayak into motion. Throughout the course of kayaking, paddle blades were driven at the same speed through synchronized rhythm and coordination, the starting stroke for all others.

2. Back-And-Forth: This is the most common paddling technique used in kayaks and it is also the easiest one. It can be used as either a straight stretch or maneuvering, especially in tight places where you have to quickly and accurately turn around your boat.

3. Brace Stroke: This is a fast stroke that is used to turn your kayak in less time.

4. Single Stroke: The stroke is used to move forward in a straight line. It is the simplest stroke used for performing a rapid maneuver.

5. Wind-In-The-Face: It is also a very simple and easy stroke that is mostly used in whitewater kayaking for moving through the water quickly or just turning without reversing your path.

Types Of Kayak Paddles: 

Other types of paddles are used for specific purposes and do not necessarily come under the kayak paddles category. 

1. Canoe Paddle: Canoe paddle is used for canoeing, which is a different sport with the same paddling mechanics.

2. Umbrella Paddles: These paddles are used in the same way as a canoe paddle and are unique in the fact that they are almost entirely made up of plastic while having a shaft of aluminium. The shafts can be long or short, depending upon the user’s requirements.

3. Downriver Paddles: These paddles are specifically designed for white water kayaking. The paddles are made of fibreglass with plastic shafts that have a range of feathering angles so that paddlers can increase their control over the paddle.

4. Ergonomic Angled Paddles: These kayak paddles are designed to save the effort of the wrist and provide the correct angle for the user’s forearm while performing strokes.

5. High Power Paddles: These kayak paddles are designed for sport utility and speed paddling in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. The blade is way thicker than a normal paddle’s blade, with high leverage for greater propulsion.

6. Folding Kayaks: Kayak paddles come in all shapes and sizes, and they also have many different types of shafts. If you are interested in buying a folding kayak, you should know how to change the blade.

There are many different types of water hazards: 

  • Debris
  • Drowning Hazards
  • Inconsistent Navigation Markings 
  • No Current Signs 
  • Rocks
  • Tree branches
  • Drift line
  • High current areas
  • Slick water

There are various ways to deal with these hazards. The most important thing is never to panic. You should always be aware of your surroundings and what you are doing to avoid any danger. Always wear your helmet, wear your personal flotation device (PFD) and prepare your kayaking gear. Remember, the same things that make kayaking fun can also make it dangerous. 

Conditions For Kayaking

1. Smooth water: Smooth water is ideal for beginning kayakers because it allows the kayaker to glide along with little effort and provides room for correcting mistakes or adjusting to problems.

2. Calm water: You will find calm waters are boring and comfortable in most cases. Even though it is possible to start kayaking with calm, the chances of getting injured are higher during this condition than in stormy or choppy waters.

3. Shallow water: If you plan to kayak in shallow water, you will need to have a balanced stance sitting on your toes. Your ideal paddle should be at the same height as your body and your legs should be straight and not bent.

4. Vertical drop in water level: In most cases, rivers or streams have a gradual decrease in level from the top to the bottom.

5. Big waves and strong winds: As a general rule, you should avoid going out in extremely windy conditions. A rough sea is not ideal for kayaking because it will be hard to keep your balance, and you may end up getting sick. You should know how much wind is too much for kayaking?

6. Current: The water current may not be as strong as that of a river or stream; however, it is still strong enough to cause you problems when kayaking like tennis elbow.

7. Waves: Waves in the ocean are bigger than those of a small stream or river. They can easily make kayaking quite dangerous if you are not properly prepared for them. To be able to avoid the impact of waves, try paddling parallel to the shore instead of opposite it. Plan for the best tide times for kayaking.

8. Ocean Water: If you plan on a kayak, do not go out into the ocean. This is because ocean water is too cold for a person to live in for a long period of time. Also, saltwater can easily damage your skin.

Proper Kayak Paddling  Position

Body Position:

The most comfortable position for kayaking is the upright sitting position. This is because it is more stable and gives you more control of your kayak. To properly paddle in this position, make sure your legs are straight, knees locked, and feet placed flat.

Leg Position:

Position your legs so that they are not too far from one another. Too far apart means that you have to stretch one leg over the other and decrease the control you have on your kayak.


Your hands should be grasping the kayak with the pads of your fingers. The tighter you hold on, the less control you have. There are 3 types of grip; light grip, relaxed grip, and firmer grip.

Proper Torso Rotation:

When you are sitting up tall, it is easier to roll and become more stable in your kayak. For this position to be comfortable, the sternum must be pushed up, and the back should not be leaning.


When paddling, your shoulders should be square with the long axis of the kayak. This is important for stability purposes.


The act of angling your blade to the side by pushing against it is called edging. This gives you better leverage when paddling so that you can turn more accurately.


To roll your kayak, lean back as far as you can, then lean forward to the point where your hands are at the same level. Then do it again. This will minimize the decline in your paddling speed and will help you to keep your kayak straight.

Paddle Shaft:

To paddle your kayak properly, you should keep your wrists straight but not stiff. Flutter your hands up and down at the water’s surface. 


Kayaking is a great sport to do that offers fun, excitement, and exercise. It also provides you with opportunities to visit places that you might not have gone to before. You should always be aware of your surroundings and ensure that you are doing everything correctly before getting involved in the sport. Also, you should try and learn from the mistakes of others and find out how they could have avoided them.