Do you want to learn how to kayak?
Well, you’re not the only one. Almost 23 million Americans engage in paddle sports every year- the majority of which are kayakers.
That striking level of popularity’s easy to understand as well.
For one thing, it’s an awesome workout! Whether you’re doing it as a hobby or a sport, kayaking gets your heart pumping and upper body working like few other activities we know. Throw in the access to natural beauty, the tranquillity of open water, or the exhilaration of white water, and you really can’t go wrong.
Like anything, though, becoming a capable kayaker can take time, effort, and practice. Want some pro tips to speed up the learning process? Let us help!
Keep reading to discover our top kayaking tips for beginners.
Borrow Before You Buy
First thing’s first, you need a kayak to get out onto the water in. Want our advice?
Think about borrowing or renting one first. After all, kayaks don’t come cheap. You want to make sure the sport’s right for you before investing hard-earned cash in one.
That way, buying the best inflatable kayak out there will be money well spent!
There are different options here. You could rent one from a local paddle store, borrow one from a friend or family member, or even pay for a few lessons. Either way, you’ll end up with valuable experience (and practice) that should reveal if you want to take the sport further.
Think Water (Not Weather)
Consider carefully what you’re going to wear as well, though.
Remember, whether you fall in or get splashed, you’re sure to get wet!
A common rookie kayaking mistake is to look outside, see the sun, and assume the water will be nice and warm too. Unfortunately, that’s never guaranteed. Dressing for the weather a recipe for getting cold on (or in) the water.
The better approach is to assess the temperature of the water first. See how it feels and ask yourself what you’d wear if you were going for a swim. Be it swimsuit or wetsuit, you should wear that in the kayak too.
Hold the Paddle Properly
Another crucial step is to find grip the paddle properly. Get this bit right and mastering the coming technique will be ten times easier.
Start by working out the right place for your hands.
To do that, hold the paddle in both hands and hold it on top of your head. Next, move your hands outward/inward until your elbows are at right-angles. Bring the paddle back down in front of you and voila, that’s how far apart your hands should be.
The final step is to align the upper knuckles of your hands with the top edge of the blade. Keep your shoulders relaxed, elbows down at your side, and a loose grip on the paddle. You’re all set!
Hone the Technique
The real ‘secret’ to becoming a quality kayaker is mastering the technique. You could be as strong as an ox, but you’ll never move efficiently through the water if your technique is off.
We suggest watching some tutorial videos online and replicating what you see. Short of getting proper kayaking lessons, it’s one of the best ways to get to grips with the technique for each type of stroke. You can then take what you learn and try it out on the water.
To get started, though, hold the paddle about two feet from your torso at all times and practice rotating your body left and right. That rotation’s how you’ll generate enough power without killing your arms!
Master the Stroke
Have you ever seen people learn how to surf? Rather than hitting the water straight away, they practice on the beach first.
You see them lay down on their front before jumping up into the ‘surfer’ position. In the process, they hone their technique and have a better chance of success when they eventually hit the water.
Think about doing something similar with your kayak paddling technique.
Grab anything remotely paddle-like (be it a baseball bat or a broomstick) and imagine yourself paddling on the open water. You’re sure to see the difference when you get out onto the water.
Take It Slow
Our next tip is about patience and energy-conservation.
Basically, when you first get out onto the water, there’s a chance you’ll try to go fast and hard from the outset. It never ends well! Most people end up wet, tired, and frustrated.
Our advice would be to take it slow- especially for the first few times you go kayaking. Focus on the technique and moving through the water with smooth and precise strokes. You might not go as fast you’d like to, but you’ll enjoy the experience more and progress quicker too.
Try not to get so consumed by the learning process that you switch off to your surroundings! Likewise, avoid sticking your headphones in or shutting the world out in any other way.
You need to be alert and present at all times.
This is important for two reasons. First, you’ll appreciate the beauty of where you are and what you’re doing more! Second, you’re more likely to notice any potential dangers.
Indeed, animals, rocks, currents, waves, and white water are just a few of the potential issues you can come across while kayaking. Staying aware of your environment is the best way to spot these hazards and remain safe on the water.
Exactly How to Kayak Like a Pro
Countless people learn how to kayak in the US every year. And for good reason! It’s one of the most rewarding pastimes on the planet.
However, that doesn’t make it easy. With no direction or support, becoming safe and adept on the water can seem elusive for anybody new to kayaking.
Hopefully, though, the tips in this post will come in handy in this regard. Keep them in mind and you should be speeding through the water with a paddle in hand in no time.
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