kayak paddling technique

How to use your kayak paddle?

Discover different tricks to improve your kayak paddling technique.

Using a kayak paddle should propel you through the water efficiently and effortlessly. To do so, there are a few tricks that the Itiwit teams will give you below so that you can enjoy all your tours on the water, whether alone or in pairs.

hold paddle kayak

#1 How to hold your paddle

The concave side of the paddle blade (power side) must be facing towards you.

The recommended distance between your hands when gripping the paddle is approximately the same as the distance between your elbows. To check whether your hands are properly positioned on the paddle shaft, hold your paddle in the air and bring your hands together to form a right angle with your elbows.

Have you noticed that the angles of the left and right blades are offset? This is normal: when one blade is in the water, the edge of the other cuts through the air to reduce resistance. You must therefore rotate the paddle slightly so that the blade in the water is facing you and providing propulsion. To do this, your right hand must grip the shaft and must not rotate during movement. You control the angle of the blade by rotating your right wrist. Your right-hand remains fixed and do not move on the shaft, which simply slides in your left hand.

If your paddle has symmetrical blades, there is no need to rotate your wrist.

body paddle kayak

#2 The importance of body positioning

To paddle efficiently without exhausting or hurting yourself, you must make sure you are properly positioned in your kayak.

- Your knees touching the edge of the kayak;- Your back straight and flat against the adjustable seat to prevent back pain;- Your body relaxed and leaning slightly forward.

Paddling is not just about moving your arms! The movement requires coordination between your arms, torso, and legs.

For an efficient paddle stroke, start by twisting your upper body to face the paddling side.

Keep your back straight and your torso leaning slightly forward throughout the stroke.

The power must come from your torso, not from your arms: practice this and your paddling will become more efficient and comfortable

correct paddle position kayak

#3 Correct paddle positioning in the water

By using the "fixed right hand & sliding left hand" method, submerge the blade, placing your paddle close to the kayak and as vertical as possible.

When you put your paddle in the water, it must be positioned far in front of you. The right distance: your arms must be outstretched!

Is the blade in the water? Now pull the paddle parallel to the side of your kayak. Follow through until the paddle is level with your hips, then lift it out of the water.

It is pointless to go further back, as this could destabilize your boat.

paddle two seater kayak

#4 How to paddle a two-seater kayak

The heavier of the two passengers sits at the back, follows the movements of the front passenger (at the same time and on the same side) and is in charge of steering. The front passenger only provides power with a steady movement so as not to desynchronise with the rear passenger (risk of paddles colliding).

To turn, the rear passenger paddles in the opposite direction to the side they want to turn the kayak while the front passenger stops paddling (pivot turn whilst stopped) or paddles only on the opposite side of the turn while the front passenger continues to paddle (speed maintained but slower turn).


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