Before you set foot in a kayak, you must be able to swim. In addition, sports that require a good sense of balance, such as snowboarding, will help prepare you for kayaking by teaching you to shift your weight and keep your balance. Anything that helps you limber up, such as stretching and yoga, will also be useful, because the way you sit in a kayak (with your legs straight in front of you) requires flexibility. Weight training and crunches will help prepare your upper body muscles.
Kayaking is not the sport to learn from friends. While outfitters typically offer quick lessons before they let you rent their boats, those who plan to go kayaking frequently or take river trips will be better off with classes. Find a water instruction school that offers kayaking classes and has instructors certified by the American Canoe Association. You’ll probably start off in a lake, learning such basics as getting in and out of your boat, paddling and rolling your kayak (flipping your kayak right-side up when it gets knocked over). When you’re beginning, always go out in a group of at least three people.
How to paddle efficiently
- Don’t slouch. Beginners often slump or lean back, which limits their range of motion and reduces the power they can put into each stroke.
- Do the twist. “Twist your torso when you plant your paddle in the water,”. Like sitting up straight, twisting makes your strokes more powerful.
- Brace yourself. To go straighter and faster, push on the footbrace with the foot that’s on the side you’re paddling on.
- Live on the edge. Edging — tilting the boat sideways — helps you make a turn. To turn to the right, tilt your pelvis to the left by lifting the right hip up and pushing the left hip down; to veer left, tilt your pelvis in the opposite direction.