Freedom Kayaks

Adaptive Kayaks for People with a Challenge


Kayaking Basics Freedom Kayaks

The kayak maneuver known as the forward stroke is a relatively easy technique to master. That being said, it is also one of the most commonly distorted strokes in kayaking. This "How To" will guide you through the steps that every kayaker should know for maximum propulsion across the water as well as the proper ergonomic technique for wrist, shoulder, and torso safety. These directions are written assuming a right-handed paddler. If you are a "lefty" simply reverse the directions.

  1. Hold the Paddle Properly: The forward stroke can only be executed safely and properly as long as you are holding your paddle properly. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart, the paddle should be facing the right direction and oriented properly.
  2. Determine Your Control Grip: Most kayak paddles have blades that are offset from one another. The best way to describe this is if you were to lay the paddle on the ground, one blade would lie flat on the ground while the other would be angled upward. This makes it necessary to maintain the correct grip. If you are right-handed your control grip will be with your right hand. If you are left-handed your control grip will be with your left hand. The control grip does not change positions once it is on the paddle.
  3. Maintain Proper Posture in the Kayak: You should maintain an aggressive, yet comfortable, position in the kayak. Sit upright with your legs securely in the thigh braces and the balls of your feet against the foot supports.
  4. Rotate Your Body: To take a stroke on the right side, rotate your torso counter-clockwise while extending your right arm and retracting your left arm. This is the step that often performed incorrectly. The key to it is the torso rotation.
  5. Take The Stroke: Place the right side paddle blade in the water near the feet and rotate the torso so as to pull the blade through the water along side of the boat. Be sure to retract your right arm while at the same time extending your left arm.
  6. Setup For The Next Stroke: As soon as the stroke is over your paddle should be setup for the next stroke on the left side of the boat. Continue the rotation of your torso to obtain the maximum reach on the left side of the boat.
  7. Rotate Your Grip: At this point you need to bend your wrist on the control grip hand. Allow the paddle to rotate in your other (loose) hand until the paddle blade is lined up to enter the water at the proper angle. Grasp the paddle with your "loose hand."
  8. Take The Stroke: Place the left paddle blade in the water near the feet and rotate the torso so as to pull the blade through the water along side of the boat while retracting your left arm and extending your right arm.
  9. Repeat: At this point, you should be paddling along rather smoothly. Keep repeating Step 4 through Step 8 until you need to correct your direction with another stroke on the same side of the kayak or until you get to your destination.