We just headed out on a lake vacation with our kayaks! but, before venturing out on the kayaks, I looked up a few tips to help a beginner kayaker. I was hoping to not have an experience like Dorothy Gale!
There are many other things to consider when you paddle: getting into the kayak, stretching, paddle stroke, back support, and safety precautions. All good things to look into before heading out on your kayaking adventure. But here are a few additional things I learned:
Hold the paddle loosely. Surprisingly you only need to hold the paddle with a grip of your index finger and thumb. There’s not a need to hold with a really tight grip and holding too tight with tire your hands. The only exception to holding loosely is if you are kayaking in rapids or rough waters when you need to hold tightly to avoid losing your paddle. So, just remember to hold on loosely but don’t let go!
Paddlers Box. The paddlers box gives a mental image of how to paddle the kayak and move it forward or backwards without overuse of your shoulder or arms. The imaginary box is found by holding your arms stretched out in front of you and shoulder width apart. While holding the paddle, the arms, paddle and your body create the perimeter of the box. The box shape moves with the paddle and your body to create a moving paddlers box. This is the shape you want to keep continuously so that your hand should never extend behind your shoulder and your paddling is efficient.
Use your core. They say that the core body parts actually propel the kayak forward not the arms! Hard to believe but if the paddling motion is done correctly, the core muscles are the ones that have the power and the rotation. Using the core muscles-, abs, hips, back, makes your paddling more stable, smooth and efficient.
Find the right kayak. There’s a lot of information about different kayaks to purchase. Check out this great site at REI. They have information for the beginner kayaker about choosing a kayaking and learning the ins and outs of a kayak. Once you have narrowed down a type of kayak, (recreational, sea kayak, inflatable, sit on top, etc) you’ll be ready to head out and get the one you need. So, get out on the kayak. It may be just the thing you need for a good laugh!
In the end, if you don’t want your attempt at kayaking to feel ‘like balancing on a rubber ball’, these are a good things to look into before heading out on your kayaking adventure. For a great video presentation of these techniques check out MonkeySee.