Learn To Kayak This Summer

Woman kayaking with life jacket on

With Lake Decatur and other nearby spots, you’re in a prime location to go kayaking. Although, don’t worry if you’re new to the activity. Follow some tips to learn how to kayak, and you’ll be ready to load up your kayak and hit the water.

Hold the Paddle Correctly

First, you need to learn how to hold the paddle. Begin by keeping the paddle horizontally, with one hand on each end and the shaft sitting on your head. Your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle.

Next, lower it so it’s in front of your torso, keeping your hands in the same position. The blades should be in line with each other, and the longer edge should be at the top. You also need to make sure the scooped blades on the paddle are pointed toward you. Finally, make sure your knuckles are located on top of the shaft. Once you have the correct grip, relax your fingers. You don’t want to hold onto the paddle too tightly.

How to Perform a Forward Stroke

Next, you’ll be ready to take off in the water. You’ll begin with the forward stroke. Start by twisting at the waist and placing the blade in the water. Place it, so it’s located next to your feet. Then rotate your body while you push the blade behind you. Keep your eyes trained on the blade as you move it. Then, once your blade is behind your hip, use a slicing motion to pull the paddle out of the water. Use the other blade to repeat the process. Continue to go back and forth, so you travel in a straight line.

Master the Reverse Stroke

You might need to back up or stop moving while in the water. If that happens, you’ll need to complete a reverse stroke. This is the forward stroke in reverse. You’ll plant the blade by your hip and move it forward. Next, slice it out of the water when it reaches your feet.

Turn With the Sweep Stroke

Lake Decatur can get pretty busy, so you might need to turn your kayak from time to time. Turning is easy with the sweep stroke. This is a modified forward stroke. Use the same method, but make a wide arc when moving your blade through the water. If you want to turn right, place the paddle on the left. If you’re going to turn left, put your paddle on the right of the kayak.

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Don’t Overdo it

Finally, make sure you don’t overdo it on your first kayaking adventure. Limit the trip to a couple of hours, so you don’t become fatigued. Otherwise, you might get sloppy with your technique and have trouble making it back. Also, don’t travel too far from shore. That way, if you do get tired, you can make it back quickly.

Now that you have the basics, it’s time to hit the water. Buy or rent a kayak and then get ready for some summertime fun.

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