What is the proper way to paddle a kayak?

Being able to paddle your kayak is an essential skill if you want to be able to stay safe on the water and be able to move efficiently, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know how to paddle properly. 

In this article, we’ll be exploring paddling on a kayak and telling you everything you need to know about kayaking and proper paddling in particular. If you want more kayak content, feel free to check out our dedicated kayak page by clicking here.

What is the correct paddling technique?

When paddling in a kayak, a good technique to have is to make sure you’re sitting in an upright position with your back up against the backrest. You should do this so that you’ll be able to have better balance and control of your kayak. You should also hold the paddle with both hands, grasping firmly, and keeping your elbows close to your body.

When paddling, it is important to keep your strokes even and smooth. Sudden jerky motions can cause you to lose control of the kayak and possibly tip over. If you want to not go around in circles, make sure to evenly disperse your strokes with the same amount of power.

How do you hold a kayak paddle?

There are two main ways to hold a kayak paddle: with two hands or with one hand. This will depend on your own preference as well as what the situation dictates, with you ideally being adept at both styles.

If you choose to paddle with two hands, you can grip the paddle in the middle with both hands or put one hand on top of the other near the end of the paddle shaft. 

If you decide to paddle with one hand, you’ll want to grip the paddle near the end of the shaft so that you have more control over it. One-handed paddling is less stable but gives you more maneuverability.

Two-handed paddling is more stable and provides more power, but it can be harder on your wrists since your hands are always in the same position. 

Here’s a really useful Youtube guide that shows you how to hold a kayak paddle correctly.

What are the different types of paddles for kayakers?

Kayak paddles come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all serve the same purpose: to propel your kayak through the water. The most important factor to consider when choosing a paddle is the size. 

Paddles are measured by their length, and you’ll want to choose a paddle that is appropriate for your height and preferences. Shorter paddles are better for maneuverability while longer paddles provide more power. Wider blades will also give you more power but can be more difficult to control.

Straight shaft paddles are less expensive and easier to find, but they can be harder on your wrists since your hands are always in the same position, while bent shaft paddles cost more but provide a smoother stroke and put less strain on your wrists.

When choosing a paddle, it’s also important to consider the material. Wooden paddles are the heaviest but are also the most affordable, aluminum paddles are lighter than wood but not as durable, while fiberglass and carbon fiber paddles are the lightest but also the most expensive.

How should your kayak paddle properly in different bodies of water?

The way you paddle your kayak will depend on the type of water you are in. Knowing how to safely move in different types of water bodies is really important as conditions can change quickly and you may find yourself in a different scenario than you prepared for. If you want to find some great UK kayaking spots, you’re in luck as we’re home to some amazing water spots.

In calm water, you can paddle slowly and evenly without the worry of capsizing. It’s much easier to paddle your kayak through still water and you can focus on doing correct strokes without needing to worry about being on the move too much. It’s ideal for beginners to learn here first before progressing to more challenging conditions.

In choppy water or strong currents, you’ll want to paddle more quickly and with shorter strokes to maintain control of the kayak. This is seen as being more difficult and we would recommend that anybody looking to kayak in open, choppier water should first have a good level of confidence on the water and a good grasp of the different techniques.

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