Kayaking is an electrifying, delightful and enjoyable activity. But that’s only if you know how to control your boat and do with it as you wish. If you know how to properly steer and control a kayak, you are not only going to get where you want to go quickly, safely and comfortably, but also are going to enjoy yourself as you do so.

In boat control, nothing is as important as knowing how to perform a variety of strokes. The more strokes you know, the more you are able to paddle effectively and get the most out of every kayaking venture.

Here are the most basic kayaking strokes every paddler should know:

1. Forward kayak stroke

The forward stroke is the most crucial kayak stroke that every paddler should learn. It’s the basis for all other types of kayak strokes and mastering it makes it easier to learn the other strokes. Even though most people begin paddling with the assumption that they know how to correctly perform the forward stroke, the reality is that the majority of these people do not. Most beginning kayakers — except those who have taken a lesson — always move their paddles with their arms instead of rotating their torso. So don’t assume that you know how to make proper forward strokes. Take your time to learn and practice this stroke.

2. Kayak back stroke

The ability to kayak backward is very essential when you have overshot your target or find yourself in tight corners. It’s also the quickest way to get to a flipped kayaker. You need to know how to back stroke your boat just in case you find yourself in a situation where you need to use this skill.

3. Kayak draw stroke

When you need to move your kayak sideways, especially when drawing closer to a dock or coming alongside another kayak, the draw stroke comes in handy. But the ability to draw the kayak is also a great way to impress your friends as it’s one of the “coolest” stroking techniques out there.

4. Kayak forward sweep stroke

To enable you to spin, turn or adjust the course of your kayak, you’ll need to use the forward sweep stroke. A typical forward sweep stroke is a bow-to-stern stroke made with the blade fully immersed, paddle shaft kept as horizontal as possible, and the back literally facing the paddle, up against the bow and by your foot. Propulsion is made in the shape of a half moon or an arc, rotating your torso along with the paddle blade all the way from the bow around the stern. The forward sweep stroke is one of the strokes done with the kayak underway.

5. Kayak reverse sweep stroke

Simply the opposite of the forward sweep stroke, the reverse sweep stroke helps turn around a kayak and can be performed when paddling backward. During a reverse sweep stroke, you rotate your torso to plant the working blade in the water as far back as possible and push the blade out in the water in a wide arc, toward the kayak’s bow. This is done using the back of the blade and the strokes are made without changing the hand position.

6. Kayak spin maneuver

This isn’t a typical stroke, but it is really valuable for spinning a kayak in place. It’s also quite handy when you want to turn a kayak around. The kayak spin maneuver is a blend of the forward sweep stroke and the reverse sweep stroke, using both together to spin a kayak in place.

What makes kayaking very accessible to most people is that it’s much more about finesse than strength. So you really don’t have to possess big muscles to enjoy it. You just need to master good technique and you are ready to paddle more efficiently, move effortlessly on water and be able to go exactly where you wish to be. That’s why you must learn and practice the strokes listed above in order to have complete control over your craft and move it around as you want. For more information on how to paddle your kayak safely, comfortably and efficiently, visit the “Captain Mike’s Kayak Rentals” site.

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