Learn to Kayak: Paddling Techniques for Beginners

Learn the different paddle techniques for kayaking including the forward paddle, back paddle, sweep strokes, draw strokes, and turning on the spot


Now that we've learned about the different parts of a kayak and the types of paddles, it is time to delve into paddle techniques when out on the water!

Knowing where to orientate your paddle blades and the direction in which to move them in the water is essential if you are looking to steer your kayak effectively across the water, and whatever it is remember to relax your grip on the paddles so that you do not fatigue too quickly.

Before We Begin: Orienting Your Paddle

If you are a right hander, your right power face is facing you. To check if you are doing this correctly, you may want to raise it above your shoulders like a shoulder press

1. Forward Paddle

1. If you are a right hander, your right hand will hold the shaft firmly, and your left hand will allow the shaft to rotate freely.

Drop the left blade into the water and turn your body in the direction you are paddling.

Repeat the same steps with your right hand, and that becomes your forward paddle.


2. Back Paddle

The back paddle is essentially the same steps as the forward paddle except that it is the opposite direction.

Instead of using the power face to paddle, you will now be using your back face.


3. Sweep Strokes

Next it is about turning left and right using what are commonly termed as sweep strokes.

Start on the opposite side of the kayak from which you wish to turn, placing the power face of the blade by your feet.

You will sweep the blade in a wide arc towards the stern of the kayak. The wider the sweep, the more effective the turn.


4. Turning on the Spot

To turn on the spot, you employ similar strokes to the sweep stroke, except this time you incorporate the back face of the blade to push the water on the side you are turning towards.

5. Hold Water

In order to hold water, which is basically to brake while paddling in the water.

While in a forward momentum, simply dip your blade in the opposite side of the kayak in order to stop the kayak.


6. Draw Strokes

Rotate your paddle blade so it is horizontal, reach out with the tip of your blade into the water at the side of your kayak

Now lower your hand, and pull the blade straight towards you, keeping it immersed, and when you are about to take out the paddle, rotate your blade 90 degrees before slicing it out of the water to form a "J" shape

Looking to kayak with your friends or family? The Singapore Sports Hub's Water Sport Centre offers you great options to do so at the Kallang Basin. To find out more, visit the bookings page here.

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