how to paddle a kayak correctly For Beginners Guide

I have been kayaking for a long time since I was a teenager. So when my friends want to take up kayaking, they seek my advice. I have kayaked with many beginners, and let me tell you one mistake that they make.

Most first-time kayakers do not know how to paddle a kayak correctly, which is fine. However, if you want to be a good kayaker, you must learn how to paddle for beginners. But first, get yourself a good paddle using the fleet farm kayak reviews.

Do you want to know how to paddle a kayak accurately? Well, allow me to tell you all about kayak paddles and the paddling skills every kayaker needs.

how to paddle a kayak Properly?

Finding the right paddle:

Kayak paddles come in many shapes and sizes. Before you learn all the paddling methods, you have to find the right paddle. Use the fleet farm kayak reviews if you want to know more about kayak paddles.

First, find the perfect length that is not too big or too small. To find the ideal size, use the length of your kayak and your height. Apart from that, blade materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber will make your paddle lighter.

The shaft material is also essential in a kayak’s performance. Shafts made up of aluminium are not that expensive and are very durable.

Correctly holding the paddle:

It might come to your mind that holding a paddle is easy. How hard can it be to grab a paddle and start paddling? Let me tell you, there is a certain way to hold the paddle.

I should keep my hands at a distance equal to the shoulder width. And they should not be too far from the blades. Also, try raising your paddle above your head and check if the elbows make a 90-degree angle or not.

Position your hand in such a way that the knuckles are pointing up. Then make sure your grip is loose. After that, check to see if the blades are perpendicular to the water surface or not.

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Once you have positioned your hand and your paddle, you can start paddling.     

how to paddle a kayak correctly

The sitting position can change the game:

As kayaking is a sport, most beginners do not understand the importance of good sitting posture. If you want to kayak for a more extended period, you need to sit in a certain position.

Start by relaxing by the shoulders and keeping your chest open. Make sure you sit comfortably and keep your back straight. Having back support will help but do not lean back on it too much.

Use the footpegs to keep your feet, and your legs should not be bent. If your legs are outstretched, then you can move your kayak quickly. Apart from that, your knees should not rest on the thigh braces.​​​​ The upper thighs should rest on the thigh braces, which will support your kayak.

Component of kayak paddle stroke:

I can divide every kind of paddle stroke into three parts:

  • Wind up – This part is about how the kayaker’s body is positioned during the entire stroke. Your body should move in the stroke’s direction. Try not to bend your lower arm and keep it as straight as possible.
  • Catch phase – This part is all about when the paddle’s blade enters the water. During this phase, pull your body which will also remove the blade from the water. Use not only your arm’s muscles as they will get tired quickly. Try to engage the core muscles to make the process easy.
  • Unwind/ Release phase – This part happens at the last of the stroke when the blade comes out of the water. If your stroke is done correctly, your elbows will guide you during this phase.
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Forward stroke:

The first stroke that most beginners learn is the forward stroke. This is because the forward stroke moves the kayak in a straight line. Every kayaker must know how to do the forward stroke by heart, which is the most basic kayaking stroke.

First, keep your eyes up and wind your body to drive the paddle blade into the water. The battle should be straight and entirely inside the water near your legs.

Once the paddle is in the water, pull it toward you using your core muscles. When the paddle reaches the level of your hip, pull it out of the water. Then repeat the same things with the blade on the other side.

Sweep stroke:

Do you know what to do if you want to turn your kayak? You have to use the sweep stroke, and let me tell you how to do the sweep stroke.

Extend your arm and try to put your blade into the water as far as it will go without straining yourself. Once the blade is in the water, you want to pull the blade by making a C motion. Move your torso and keep your arm straight. When the blade is close to the hull, pull the blade out of the water and finish the stroke.

After the stroke is complete, your kayak should make a turn with a bit of loss in speed.

Reverse stroke:

If you think you are a pro-kayaker just because you have mastered the forward stroke, then think again. What if you come across an obstacle and you have no option but to go back? This is when you have to use the reverse stroke.

To do a reverse stroke:

  1. Put your paddle at the back of your kayak and wind your body in the same direction.
  2. Once your paddle is in the water, keep your eyes behind and pull your paddle towards you.
  3. Repeat the stroke on the other side with the out-of-water blade. Slice the paddle out from the water when the blade reaches your feet.
how to paddle a kayak for beginners

Frequently asked questions:

Many beginners take some time to master different strokes. As the strokes are pretty different from each other, you might have some questions about them. Here are the answers to some very common questions.

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1. What stroke should I do to move my kayak sideways?

If you want to move your kayak sideways, you can use the draw stroke.

2. Should I feather my kayak paddle?

If you kayak in an environment with high winds, then feathering your kayak paddle will be helpful.

3. What angle should my kayak paddle be?

Try to keep your kayak paddle between 30 and 45 degrees, as it will be easier to move the kayak.

4. Why should I learn correct paddle strokes?

Learning correct paddle strokes will make kayaking more pleasant and save you from injuries.

5. What are the rubber rings on a kayak paddle called?

The rubber rings are called Paddle Drip Rings.

6. How do I improve my kayak stroke?

Try to practice your strokes regularly.


Kayaking is a very relaxing and beautiful sport. But it becomes even better when you know how to paddle a kayak correctly for beginners. You can use the fleet farm kayak reviews to buy the perfect kayak and paddle, which you can use to learn to paddle.

So the next time you want to know more about kayak strokes to impress your friends or family, give this guide a read.

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