Saturday, May 24, 2008

Basic Paddling Technique

Are you left-brained (analytical, logical) or right-brained (artsy, creative)? I'm about to offer links to some basic paddling techniques and depending on how your brain works, you may prefer one link over another. I'll start by saying this information is for beginners. We're barely scratching the surface here.

Kayaking is like many other sports--you can get by just knowing the basics, but you'll probably enjoy it more (and be safer) as your knowledge and skills expand. First, here are four brief tips I learned from watching a demonstration at the New England Paddlesports Show:

  • Sit up straight and tall in your kayak

  • Use your entire upper body, not just your arms and shoulders

  • Watch the hand doing the work; This means your shoulders move with your hands

  • Your paddle should be vertical as it's going into the water

Paddling Instructions for Left-Brainers
Some folks will find this helpful, so I'm adding this link to GORP's article on River Basics: Strokes and Strategies. It describes forward strokes, the stern draw, and forward sweep, among other things. I'm quite sure the author know's what he's talking about, but not being a left-brained person, most of his instruction is lost on me.

Paddling Video for Right-Brainers
And for the rest of us, national champion paddler Lloyd Reeves has produced some short instructional videos available on a site called expert village. There are actually 13 short videos in the series. Topics range from how to get in a kayak safely, the correct way to hold a paddle, and basic strokes.

Take a Lesson
All this being said, I think the best way to learn paddling technique is to take an in-person lesson. Many rental and touring places offer them; check out some of the links in our sidebar under Kayak Rentals and Tours. The "grand-daddy" of outdoor instruction in our area seems to be the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools. I love that they offer a choice of long (more expensive) instruction and shorter (less expensive) "walk-on adventures." You can get a full course meal or just the appetizer!

Confession Time...This is our third season on the water and we've yet to take a lesson. Up until now, we've had fun just playing. But I'm ready to learn how to get more efficient at paddling so we can take longer trips. How about you?


Expert said...

Hi, and thanks so much for featuring Expert Village in your great post about kayaking. Your blog has some gorgeous photos. Did you see that we also have a pretty good series on kayaking gear and terminology? Hope you like that one also.

Thanks again for linking to us!

- the Expert Village team

Lucie Bryar said...

Appreciate the comment and the link to more information. I'd encourage anyone who is new to the sport to check out your site. Some series are targeted more to whitewhater kayakers and others to stillwater kayakers. But there is tons of helpful information there!