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How To Paddle Or Row A Kayak

by Nathan Zachary


Once you get on open waters with a kayak you feel the freedom and you can have once in a lifetime experience of your life by exploring anywhere. Once you learn the ability on how to control the kayak for nyc kayaking you will be able to have a proper adventure. Learn a few basic strokes which will help you paddle efficiently, the kayak will take you where you want to be. Most people who want to learn kayaking do so by renting a boat while on vacation. They don’t have to be experts in kayaking.

However, it is better if one learns proper paddling techniques, your fun will be much higher and it will help you not to get in a worse situation. The Basic techniques for paddling are the same in all water conditions. The boat you are going to use will affect the speed and control ability, but you also need to take care of the size and shape, and type of the paddle you buy. Most of the paddles co es in 210, 220, 230, or 240 centimeters, and the one which is perfect for you is based on your kayak’s size, width, and paddling angle.

Paddling the kayak the “right way” is far more challenging with a paddle that is not the perfect length according to your boat. You still need to consider your height when choosing the length of the paddle. 

Let’s take a look at the basics of how to paddle your kayak:

The first thing is the grip you need to hold your paddle to make an efficient grip.

  • Going forward- the forward stroke is for moving forward and picking up speed.
  • while forward stroke is to move forward and speed up at the same time reverse stroke is for you to slow down and back up.
  • The draw strokes are for scooting your kayak sideways.
  • And sweep stroke for turning the kayak.

How to hold a paddle?

Now let’s take a look at how to hold your paddle and use it. The way someone holds their paddle can affect how much control they have and how much energy is needed. 

Following are the steps you need to take into consideration:

1. Knowing the structure of your paddle.

While a canoe paddle comes with a single blade attached to the shaft, A kayak paddle comes with two blades attached to the shaft. The part that you hold and the blades are used to stroke forward and pull yourself through the water. 

2. Holding the paddle with both hands on the paddle 

You need to hold the paddle with both hands about 40 cm apart. This will give you the perfect grip and help you to control the kayak perfectly and with stability. 

3. Having the paddle’s face in the right direction.

Beginners make a common mistake while holding the paddle. They hold their paddles backward. It may look like it may not make a difference which way the paddle is facing, but it does have a big change on your power stroking. The side of the paddle which is smooth or concave should be facing you, this is the part you use to pull through the water. 

4. which side needed to be upward 

Kayak paddles are asymmetrical, which means that there is a top and a bottom to the blades. You need to hold the kayak perfectly as it was designed. The bottom of the paddle has more of a tapering shape and the top is much more horizontal. There is even writing found on the horizontal side which will help you to remember to hold your paddle correctly and perfectly.

5. You must keep your knuckles perfectly lined up with the blade. 

6.  Holding the paddle 12 in(about 30cm) away from the body. 

7.  Check your control grip.

If you are a left-handed person your control grip will be with your left hand, on the other hand, if you are a right-handed person your control grip will be with your right hand. Also, kayaking you need to keep your hands loose to make sure that it allows the paddle to rotate and reposition so that each paddle enters the water smoothly. You are not supposed to change your control grip once you grip the paddle. 

8.  Make sure your paddle goes deep into the waters for which you need to push hard with your paddle. 

How to paddle and row a kayak?

The important kayaking techniques are the same in all water conditions: stabilizing muscles, pushing paddles from the shoulders, and pulling back with your core. But on the other hand, river kayaking can be a little different in rapids and currents. At the same time, all paddle strokes require a proper grip: hands must be shoulder width apart, knuckles upward. 

Forward stroke  

The most crucial stroke, One of the most used strokes. It is important to use your core and back muscles to get the work done. 

Once you check you are correctly holding the paddle. There are three phases of the forward strokes: 

1. The catch phase. Take a deep breath and steep your paddle blade completely on one side of the boat next to your feet. 

2. The power phase. Rotate your core and back as the blade moves behind you. To keep check follow the blade with your eyes and the core will follow. Also, focus on pushing with your upper hand as you move. 

3. The release phase. When you reach behind your hip, slice the blade out of the water.


You need to stay as upright as possible. This will help you in maintaining balance and gain efficiency. 

Try maintaining the blade in a vertical position. You will go much straighter and move faster. 

It is important to use your core muscles rather than the muscles of your arms. If not done using proper techniques your muscles will get tired quicker and you are prone to injury. 

Reverse stroke

The reverse stroke is used to slow down the kayak. And if you are in a stationary position, the reverse stroke can be used to go backward. This is the opposite of the forward stroke.

1. The drop phase. Take a breath in and dip the blade next to your hip. 

2. The power phase. Rotate the core and move the blade in front of you.

3. The release phase. When the paddle comes even with your feet, slice the blade out of the water. 

Sweep stroke

If you only do the forward stroke, the boat will start to turn in the opposite direction. Turning the boat by doing a sweep stroke on the side of the boat is a much more efficient way to turn the boat. 

1. The catch phase. Extend your arms in front of you and dip the blade near your feet on one side. Remember you have to begin on the other side from the direction you want to make a turn. 

2. The turn phase. Make a wide sweep with your paddle towards the back end of the kayak, with the power to optimize the stroke. You are going to need more power once the blade reaches the cockpit.

3. The release phase. Also, Once the blade reaches the hull, slice the blade out of the water. 

This will result in taking a slow turn. If needed do one more or resume the forward stroke.

Draw stroke

To move the kayak sideways you need to do a draw stroke. This is very useful if you need to get close to another boat or the dock. 

1. Rotate the blade to make it horizontal. 

2. About two feet away, on the side of the boat, dip the blade steeply into the waters.

3. By using the lower hand pull the blade in, keeping the blade dipped in the water. 

4. take the blade out before it hits the boat. 

If you feel it hit, simply let the top hand grip go easy and relax, then start over. 

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