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Learn to Kayak: Guide to Different Kayaking Strokes

Learning to kayak in Las Vegas is a rewarding and enriching experience. After all, you’ll get in shape, explore fantastic sights, and even make new friends along the way. As with other sports, learning to kayak takes some training. There are some technicalities to master if you want to be a pro on the water, which includes learning the different types of strokes that kayakers use.

Get a Grip

Before you learn the different types of strokes required for kayaking, you will want to learn the correct way to grip the paddle. There are two types of grips that kayakers use, which are called “low-hold” and “high-hold.” A low-hold grip is the type of grip you’ll use for propelling the boat forward and maneuvering. A high-hold grip is used to avoid capsizing the boat, rolling, steering, and other more advanced techniques. Both grips can be used to move the boat forward or backward.

Forward Stroke

The forward stroke is the stroke that you will use most often when kayaking. Therefore, you’ll want to practice this stroke frequently to become comfortable and familiar with it. When you are using the forward stroke correctly, the nose of the boat, which is the front of the boat, will have minimal movement. The type of boat that you use may make it easier or more difficult to control the nose with a forward stroke. Either way, having proper technique is helpful.

There are three phases to the forward stroke, which are:

  • Reach
  • Power
  • Alternating Side

During the reach phase, you will use your torso, or core, to reach forward with the paddle to about the level of your feet. Dip the blade into the water on the same side so that the blade is about three-quarters of the way in the water.

The power phase is next. Using your back, keep the shaft parallel to the boat as you draw the blade in a straight line smoothly back towards the bow, parallel to your body. The blade shouldn’t make any splashes.

Lastly, when you complete the stroke, lift the blade out of the water and place it back in the water on the other side of the boat. Repeat the process on the other side.

Over time, you will learn to repeat the alternating stroke faster and more efficiently. As you are building your forward stroke skills, make your strokes as smooth as possible and avoid excess movement in the front of the boat. Also, remember to use your torso for the stroke movements rather than your arms. Ultimately, you should be able to use the forward stroke comfortably for even a day-long Colorado River kayaking adventure.

Reverse Stroke

The reverse stroke, as the name implies, is used to help move the boat backward. The reverse stroke is generally a short and fast stroke used to respond to a tight situation, such as if you need to reverse your boat quickly for any reason. To perform this stroke, turn your body clockwise so that you are facing to the right-hand side and your shoulders line up parallel with the boat. Then, dip the blade into the water towards the back of the boat. Push the paddle forward and away from the boat. The blade should face the kayak’s side. Finally, pull the paddle towards the boat, which brings the paddle and kayak closer together. The blade should ultimately end up a few inches from the boat. Pull the paddle towards the back of the kayak and repeat the stroke as needed.

Forward Sweep Stroke

The forward sweep stroke is a stroke that’s used to move the boat sideways when you are paddling in a straight line. For this stroke, turn the paddle horizontally and put the blade in the water on the opposite side of your boat from the direction you intend to turn. Then, move the blade in a “C” shape from the tip of the boat to the rear, creating an arc shape as you go. Once the paddle has reached the end of the boat, pull the blade out of the water quickly and repeat the stroke on the opposite side of the boat. Repeat the steps of the forward sweep stroke until the boat has turned in the direction that you want to go.

Reverse Sweep Stroke

The reverse sweep stroke is similar to the forward sweep stroke, but you’ll use it to turn your kayak to the side as you are moving backward rather than forwards. To start, move the paddle over the side of your boat in a horizontal position. Dip the paddle blade into the water on the side of the boat in the direction you aim to turn. Push the paddle’s blade from the rear of the kayak to the nose. As with the forward sweep stroke, pull the blade rapidly out of the water until you have fully turned in the direction you want to turn.

Kayak Spin

The kayak spin is a stroke used to turn the boat around when you are otherwise sitting in stationary water. This stroke uses a combination of the front sweep stroke and reverse sweep stroke. Start with the forward sweep stroke, and then switch to the reverse sweep stroke to move the boat in a circle. Repeat both strokes as often as necessary to spin your kayak in a full circle or your desired direction.

Learning to paddle a kayak correctly takes practice and patience, but it is nonetheless a rewarding experience. Practicing your paddling skills is the best way to learn and continue improving. If you want to know “where can I kayak near me?”, contact Blazin’ Paddles for more information. Blazin’ Paddles offers full-day and half-day tours for kayakers of all skill levels and ages. Even if you are just learning the sport, you can get the hang of paddling through a scenic outing such as the Black Canyon kayaking tour. All tours are led by experienced guides who can help you improve along the way.

A Beginner’s Guide to Kayaking Like a Pro

Learning to kayak in Las Vegas has numerous benefits. From meeting like-minded people to simply having the option to get on the water anytime you’d like, there are many great reasons to pick up the sport of kayaking. As with any new endeavor, learning to kayak takes time and practice. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to safely and confidently make the most of your Colorado River kayaking excursions.

Types of Kayaks

Kayaks come in many forms. They are designed for use in various conditions that range from tranquil waters such as ponds and small lakes to whitewater rapids and the ocean. Some types of kayaks are easier to use than others, which makes them a better option for beginners.

  • Sit-on-top
  • Touring
  • Inflatable
  • Tandem

Sit-on-top kayaks are one of the best varieties for beginners. They are wide and have a good center of balance, which makes them sturdy and easy to maneuver out on the water. Sit-on-top kayaks are typically less expensive than other kinds of kayaks. While sit-on-top kayaks are wide and stable, they are also larger and slower than other kayak styles, which makes them a better fit for calmer waters.

Touring kayaks are generally longer and narrower than sit-on-top kayaks. They are also lighter-weight, which makes them more transportable and a bit faster. Touring kayaks are a preferred choice for more seasoned kayakers or beginners who have a good sense of balance. Because they are narrower, touring kayaks are a bit more challenging to get into and out of than sit-on-top kayaks, especially when you’re out on the water.

Inflatable kayaks are suitable for kayakers of all skill levels. They are most useful for people who plan to hike to their kayak launch point, as they can be easily rolled up and tucked away. Inflatable kayaks are best suited for calmer waters, which makes them a good option for novice kayakers.

Tandem kayaks are kayaks made for two people rather than one. Tandem kayaks are available in several styles, including sit-on-top and touring. Tandem kayaks also come in inflatable form.

As you’re deciding what kind of kayak to get, there are several key considerations to think about. First, will you be kayaking by yourself or with another person most of the time? You will also want to think about where you will be transporting your kayak to for launches, and how comfortable you feel loading and unloading the boat by yourself. Then, you’ll want to think about how easy it is for you to get into and out of the boat on your own, both on land and in water. Many kayak retailers will let you test out different boats first to figure out which one you want to get.

Gear and Accessories

To make your kayaking experience as fun and positive as possible, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right gear and accessories along for the ride. Weather can change quickly when you are on the Colorado River kayaking, depending on the time of day and the season. Daytime temperatures can be much warmer than in the evening or early in the morning, which means you’ll want to dress in layers or bring a change of clothes if you’ll be out on the water for longer periods of time. The sun can also be strong, which makes sunscreen or sun protection essential. If you are bringing your phone, camera, wallet, or other valuables along for the ride, you’ll want to keep them dry and protected with a waterproof bag or pouch. If your eyes are sensitive to the sun, wearing polarized sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection is strongly encouraged. No matter what you wear, your clothing and footwear should be water-resistant or waterproof.

Personal Flotation Devices

For safety reasons, wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) when out on the water is highly recommended. Like kayaks, PFDs are made in various styles to suit the different kinds of water that you’ll be kayaking in.

Type I PFDs are heavy-duty flotation devices made for use in rougher water and the ocean. Type II or Type III PFDs are a bit more comfortable. They are not quite as cumbersome as Type I PFDs, which makes them a better choice for calmer waters where you’ll likely be rescued more quickly. While Type I, II, and III PFDs are made specifically for kayaking, you can also get PFDs made for multiple activities, such as Type V. If you get a Type V PFD, be sure to check that it is suitable for kayaking before making your purchase.

Finding a Suitable Time and Location

Once you’ve found the right boat and accessories, it’s time to get in the water. To kayak safely and successfully, you’ll need to research places to kayak based on your skill and comfort level. Remember that you must find a place that’s accessible to the public, too. Calm waters, which you’ll find on ponds and lakes, are recommended for novice kayakers. Beginners are advised to avoid rivers and oceans as they’re starting due to stronger currents and choppier water. If you are driving to your destination and plan to launch your boat, you’ll also need to figure out parking at the launch spot and determine if there is a launch fee.

No matter where you decide to start your kayaking adventure from, keep an eye on the weather. It’s best to choose a day when skies are clear for maximum visibility. Try to kayak on a day when winds are minimal, and make sure to avoid kayaking if there is a risk of thunderstorms or severe weather in the area.

Blazin’ Paddles | Colorado River Kayaking

Once you’re ready to get started, you may be wondering “where can I learn to kayak near me?” Fortunately, Blazin’ Paddles is here to help you learn. Blazin’ Paddles offers tours for kayakers of all skill levels, which is a great way to safely learn to kayak Las Vegas and get a feel for what it’s like to be out on the water.

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