How to Hold Your Kayak Paddle

Hi. Today, we’re going to give you some overview of some stuff that you may need to know if you come out to one of our events. So first off, you can probably see this big orange thing right here. If you come to one of our events, PFDs are required. You’ve got to wear them when you’re in the kayak. Safety is priority number one when you’re with us. Now, another thing, if you’ve never been in a kayak, one of the hesitancies that people have, or, “Oh, is it going to be super tippy or am I going to fall over?” or that kind of stuff. All of the kayaks that we have are very wide kayaks. They’re built for stability. We want to make sure that you feel comfortable in your experience here with us at the Fort Hood chapter of Heroes on the Water.

Now, let me give you another tip. Probably the biggest thing that I see is people not knowing how to orient the paddle when they actually sit down in the kayak. So when you’re sitting in the kayak, what it should look like … let me come a little closer to you … is, if we’re facing out this way, you should have your paddle blade to where you can read whatever’s on it. It needs to be right side up. It needs to be on the top half. And what you want is if you’ll notice how that kind of scoops out, you want the scoop … see that right there? You’re going to want that scoop to go away from you. That way, when you’re pulling through the water, it’s propelling you. If you flip it like this, you’re just kind of pushing water back and it’s not efficient. So if you’ll remember, hold this out here, hands are going to be about shoulder width and make the reading to where you can actually read it left to right and up top. That’s going to allow you to hold the paddle properly.

Now, when we’re paddling, what you want to try to do is keep your elbows bent. If you lock your elbows like this and you’re chopping, it’s going to cause a lot of strain on your back. So keep your elbows bent and try to make a square. So if we look at it, if I lean over, you can see how this kind of makes a square right here. What you want to do is you want to bend at the elbows and move your core, and try to keep that square in place. And we’re going to move your core. Move your core.

One of the things that I’ve seen people do quite a bit is they bring their paddle in too close to their chest and they move their nose over their shoulder and that causes instability. What you want to try to do is let your arms and let your core do the work and keep your nose lined up with your belly button. If you’re able to do that, that means you’re not going to lose your center of gravity, which will cause you to lean to one side. And it’s not the leaning to the one side that usually gets people. It’s the leaning to the one side, feeling nervous, and then over correcting to the other side, that causes an issue. So if you remember, keep your nose in between your shoulders and lined up with your belly button, you’re going to be in good shape. You let the paddle and your core do the work.

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