Efficicient Kayak Forward Paddling Technique
Forward paddling a kayak efficiently requires good technique. Sea kayakers can learn a great deal from racing kayakers who have developed forward paddling technique to a fine art.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about forward paddling technique. Many people are confused about which foot to press with, and don’t understand the relationship between foot pressure and body rotation. Many people advocate ‘trunk rotation’ but generate this by moving only from the waist.
For sea kayakers, forward paddling is perhaps our most important stroke. It is certainly the technique we use most often. So spend a little time developing this techique into a real skill that will serve you well whenever you are paddling.
For efficient forward paddling we need to be positively connected to our kayaks through our buttocks and feet. However, if our knees, hips and backrests are too tightly connected our ability to rotate our body is limited. My sea kayak is set up with enough room for my knees to move up and down and for my hips to rotate while I’m paddling. I have also removed the backrest from my sea kayak.
This comes from our feet. After the blade is inserted into the water, we press hard with the same side foot. This straightens our leg which rotates our hips and torso to generate power. Our arm muscles are the last to be recruited into the movement.
Have a look at this video of Tim Brabants demonstrating the technique which has won him Olympic Gold.
Spend some time analysing Tim’s technique and see how you can incorporate aspects of it into your own paddling. You’ll be amazed at how even a small improvement in your paddling technique will be of benefit in terms of your endurance and paddling speed.