Kayaking Paddling Strokes: A Guide to Basic Paddling Techniques

If you’re just learning how to kayak one of the first things you should learn are the three basic paddling techniques before heading into rough water. These paddle strokes offer an excellent foundation inflatable paddle board that you can build on as you discover more advanced techniques. With these paddling strokes you’ll be able to move forward and backward, sideways and turn.

The Forward Stroke

The first kayaking stroke you should master is the forward stroke. This will be used more than any other and enables you to move forwards. To start, sit upright in your kayak with good posture. Hold your paddle in the box position and raise then lower each half of your kayaking paddle. Rotate your torso and make sure the paddle is near your feet as your torso turns before lowering it into the water. Now, twist your body until the paddle blade is near your hip and raise the paddle. Repeat for the opposite side. This is a very basic, short paddle stroke that is very effective and works well to get control of both hardshell and inflatable kayaks. It’s very easy to master and works to move backwards as well.

The Sweep Stroke

The sweep stroke works a lot like the forward stroke but is used to turn the kayak instead. Remember that a left sweep will turn you to the right while a right sweep will turn your kayak to the left. This can be a bit tricky to get the hang of if you’re just starting out. To perform a sweep stroke, keep your hands in the same place on your kayak paddle but turn your body to make the right blade forward toward the side of your kayak. As you untwist your torso, sweep the blade in an arc and finish with the paddle blade against the hull at the rear of your kayak. This sweep stroke may also be performed in reverse, although it requires a good deal of practice.

The Draw Stroke for Inflatable Kayaks

With inflatable kayaks it can often be important to move your kayak sideways. To accomplish this, a draw stroke is necessary. This requires a lot more practice than the other two techniques and can be tricky. Start with your paddle in a vertical position at the side of your kayak and your thigh. Next, rotate the paddle until it is perpendicular with the side of the kayak and then slice it out twenty inches or so. Finally, turn the paddle again to make the blade parallel to the side and pull it downward. Just before it reaches the kayak rotate it to a perpendicular position once more and slice out. Repeat this motion quickly to move sideways at a fairly fast pace.