Learning how to hold your paddle isn’t enough when you’re out on the water. You also have to practice the basic kayaking strokes to master your way through the water while avoiding casting damage to your vessel or yourself.
4 Basic Types of Kayaking Strokes
1- Forward Stroke
This is the most fundamental paddling stroke, as you’re bound to spend most of your time going forward when kayaking. Forward stroke primarily consists of using your arm power and torso muscles.
Here are the essential three steps for executing an adequate forward stroke:
- Tighten your torso muscles (core and back) and immerse your paddle wholly on one side of the kayak, next to your feet.
- Now, rotate your torso when the paddle moves behind you. The tip is to follow the immersed blade with your eyes, and your torso would follow automatically. Moreover, it’s best to keep your focus on pushing against the paddle with your upper arm.
- When your hand shifts behind your hip, slice the paddle out of the water.
2- Reverse Stroke
Applying a break or backing up your kayak is done with the help of a reverse stroke. Here’s how you can do that in three steps:
- Tighten your torso muscles (core and back) and immerse your paddle wholly on one side of the kayak, next to your hip this time.
- Now, rotate your torso when the paddle is positioned in front of you, near your feet, following the same tips as before.
- When your paddle blade is evenly next to your feet, slice the paddle out of the water.
3- Sweep Stroke
When you repeatedly practice the forward stroke on the same side of the kayak, you’ll likely notice yourself turning in the opposite direction. Besides this, when you simply want to turn your boat in a given order, knowing how to do a sweep stroke will help you immensely.
Here’s what you’ll need to do for correcting your sweep stroke:
- If you want your kayak to turn left, extend your right arm while holding onto the paddle blade and immerse it into the water close to your feet. Or vice versa.
- Now, sweep the paddle, making a wide semi-circle arc toward the stern of the kayak. You’ll have to put in some effort to keep your stroke smooth.
- When the immersed paddle reaches the hull behind your kayak’s cockpit, end the sweep stroke by slicing the paddle blade out of the water.
4- Draw Stroke
Learning how to do a draw stroke will come in handy when you find the need to move your kayak sideways, either for pulling closer to a dock or moving your kayak away from another boat.
Here’s how you can do that following four steps:
- Keep your paddle aligned with your body, making a 180-degree angle with your arms.
- When the tip of the paddle blade is submerged into the water, make sure it is around two feet away from the kayak.
- Now, use your lower hand to pull the immersed shaft towards you, all the while keeping the blade’s tip underwater.
- Stop right before the paddle hits the side of your kayak.
We recommend learning these four kayaking strokes before getting out on the water to avoid any unexpected accidents!