How to Paddle a Kayak: A Guide for Beginners

Kayaking is a fun sport. But to enjoy it to the fullest, you need to learn how to paddle a kayak first.

The training for kayaking starts even before you go into the water. It starts with choosing the right kayak to learn to hold the kayak as well. So, there is a lot to learn than what meets the eyes.

So, here we will be sharing with you important details regarding how to paddle a kayak. You will get to know which is the right kayak for you, the right paddle for you, and where you should start for training for your kayaking. So, let’s jump right into it.

What Do You Need for Kayaking?

Kayaking essentially requires two things-your kayaks and the paddle. But here comes the challenge. Choosing the right kayak and paddle can be very confusing as there are various kinds of kayaks and paddles with different shapes. So, this requires a little bit of research on your part before you get the equipment.


Kayaks come in different shapes.  While buying the kayak, you should consider the size, the purpose, the shape, and the material of the kayak as well. There are kayaks for different purposes such as- recreational kayaks, fishing kayaks, professional kayaks, and so on.

You should also think about where you want to use that kayak. Is it going to be on a river, or a sea or an ocean? Just make the right decisions and you will get the right one. If you choose a kayak that is meant for a different purpose then kayaking is going to feel like a chore and not fun at all.

Kayak Paddles

There are single-bladed as well as double-bladed kayaks in the market. Apart from that, the shapes and designs of the kayak also make a difference in the efficiency of the performance of the kayak.

Besides, the length of the shaft, its features is also important aspects. There are kayak paddles for kids, professionals, for rafting, for fishing, and a lot more.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

How to Paddle a Kayak?

So far, we have been focusing on getting the basic idea about the kayaks and the different paddles used for it. Now we are going to learn how a kayak paddle is used. We are going to learn this in a step by step process. The technique is very important in any sport. The wrong technique can tire us very easily. So, we need to get the techniques right first.

Sitting Position

The seat of the kayak is very important. A comfortable seat will help you sit with the right posture. And to paddle properly, you will need that. Having the right posture means sitting up straight and with a good posture. This will help you not only with your paddling but also will be good for your back.

With a good posture, you will be able to paddle hard and fast. Your feet should be well-rested while you are paddling. That will reduce the strain on your hamstring. There are some kayaks with adjustable seats. Those help to adjust the position according to your comfort. So, you can look for one of those as well. 

Right Way of Using the Paddle

You need to know the difference between feathered and unfeathered paddles. Many people do not have this basic knowledge which causes them a lot of trouble. So, a feathered paddle is the one in which both the blades are facing opposite directions to each other at an angle.

And an unfeathered paddle has both blades facing the same direction. A feathered paddle helps to cut through the wind with the upper blade and the water with the help of the lower blade, while you are giving forward strokes. But you need to keep twisting the blades to keep it in the right position.  

There are proper techniques to feather a paddle. The feathering is mostly done for the right-handed paddlers. Which means you will be controlling the paddle with the right hand with a firm grip. Also, your knuckles should be in alignment with the edge of the paddle blade.  

There is a trick to understand if you are holding your paddle with the right posture and if your hands are in the right position. Simply put, you should keep your elbows at a ninety-degree angle. At this angle, you will be able to exert the most power and have the best control as well. Since we need to keep rotating the shaft because of the feather, we will be using the other hand or the greased hand for that purpose. It is very important to keep rotating the shaft while paddling with a feathered paddle. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to keep on paddling. On the other hand, while using an unfeathered paddle, you do not need to worry about rotating the shafts in between each stroke.

But the actual training for kayaking starts from the point when you go to buy a paddle and a kayak for yourself. There several factors under consideration. And we expect you to do a bit of research on your before going to buy a kayak since if you get a professional kayak for a recreational purpose, then you will not get the desired outcome.


We understand the confusion surrounding the first-time paddlers. That is why we tried to compile all the important information that you need to know about kayaking.

We have tried to give a complete guide on how to paddle a kayak. With all the tips and tricks mentioned above, you will learn to your paddle in no time.

That might have you not wanting to kayak ever again. But the fact is, kayak is a fun sport and to have the best experience with it, you must get the basics right first. Then you are good to go.

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