Guides & Tips

Kayak Paddling & Stoke Overview

Learn how to stoke your kayak paddle efficiently and expertly with this how-to guide.

by Josh Mitchell

The beauty of kayaking is to explore the water to its fullest. The ability to experience the adventure and have a control over the strokes is indeed beautiful. The person who is going to do kayaking must know few important tactics of paddling in water.

You must be aware of the types of strokes and its efficient method of use. If you work on your strokes you will end up exactly there where you intend to be. This article will help you to understand basic methods on how to paddle and types of strokes that you need to know.

The main purpose while kayaking is to know how to keep your kayak floating and track it straight on the water, it should turn and move only when it is paddled or with the strokes technique. To learn how to makes these strokes perfect, you must practice them in a calm water.

The environment should be safe, that helps to keep the kayaker safe and away from any kind of injury. It is advised that you must learn these techniques from a proper instructor, as it helps to reduce the chances of making mistakes very less.

Proper focus and attention should be paid by the kayaker while learning these skills efficiently. Do not hurry and take your own time to practice and get a proper grip on your paddle.

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How to hold your paddle Correctly 

To hold your paddle in the correct and accurate manner is the key to understand the method of stroke. You must always buy a paddle which is of correct length and size. If you are confused about the size, then you must consult a proper guide for it. The right way to hold a paddle involves The things mentioned below:

1. Understanding what type of paddle you require

It is always better to know what type of paddle you want and what exactly are your requirements.

It is always better to learn the techniques on matched blades, but if you select the feathered one then you must see its shaft’s center.

Check the movement of the blade, after you have pushed the button and hole on the shaft. Make the rotation of the blades is proper and correct.

Make sure that the blades are symmetrical. The shape of the blades will help the paddle to stay on track straight and won’t let the paddle spin. The blades should be curved a little, this will help you grab more water and will let the stroke be more powerful.

2. Proper Orientation

Once you have chosen the paddle that you like, now hold it in front of you and make sure it has these things:

  • The blades should be perpendicular to the ground.
  • The knuckles should be pointed up.
  • The shorter side of each blade must be at the lower end.
  • If the blades are flat, then the concave side of it should be towards facing you.

The point to remember is you must grab the paddle in the way you want to hold it. You can flip till the time you don’t feel comfortable.

3. Adjusting the shaft

You must rest the paddle at the centre point and readjust the grip in the way that your elbow is at 90-degree angle. While you place the paddle down right in front of you, you will by default make a paddler’s box. The shape that will formed by the shaft, arms and chest is known as paddler’s box.

You must maintain this while you are moving your paddle. The stroke created will help to rotate it correctly and is considered to be a good technique. 

4. Relaxing the grip

If you keep your grip relaxed it will help to prevent your arm, wrist and hands from getting fatigued.

It also allows you to rely on torso instead of the paddle.

Rest your fingers on the shaft lightly and grab it softly.

Types of Paddling strokes

1. Forward strokes

The first stroke every paddler learns is the forward stroke. Mostly people think and believe that the forward stroke that they are doing is in the correct manner, but they are often wrong. Until you take a proper class, the beginners tend to hold the paddle from their arms instead of rotating it from their torso. If you have learnt the forward stroke correctly then learning the other strokes will be little easy.

2. backward strokes

While you learn how to do a back stroke, you must be aware of the reason why it is important. The main reason to learn this stroke is to find the quickest and easiest way to flip the kayakers and this also helps to maneuverer the kayak well in rough and rapid waves.

3. Sweep strokes

The kayakers cannot keep doing the forward stroke as it will turn the kayak on one side in the opposite direction. To not let this, happen sweep stroke on the side is the perfect method to keep the kayak in place and not let it turn it.  This stroke makes the movement of the kayak steady and doesn’t let it topple.

4. Draw strokes

This stroke is not very difficult to understand and learn, this is mostly done to move the kayak to a side. While you are reaching the shore or the dock, you would require moving the kayak sideways. Draw stroke is done for this


People must learn the skills before the take their kayaks and get into the water. People go for various adventurous sports activities, that offers them great excitement and thrill. Kayaking is also one those activities which involves great adventure and a scope of experiencing fun and joy. As we all know kayaks are extremely good for those areas where there is large water body. This happens because kayaks can handle big and rapid waves. It can also deal with high speed wind. Well, what we forget to while we are doing such an activity is the amount of risk that it involves. Therefore, make sure you learn the tactics and experience the best kayaking ever.

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