Paddling Positions and Posture
When we talk about paddling positions and posture in kayaking we are generally referring to the position in which you are sitting in your boat. Your posture and position have a massive effect on the performance of your kayak so its important to get them right.
It doesn’t matter what type of kayak you are paddling; whether you are sat in a a race kayak (with your legs straight in front of you), a play boat (with your legs slightly bent and knees out to the side) or even a C1 or canoe (were you may be kneeling up), the good paddling posture will always be the same.
Ideally you want to be sat up nice and tall in a straight yet relaxed position.
How to find a good Paddling Posture
1. Sit either in your kayak or on the floor.
2. Place your legs out in front of you or into the position that they sit in your boat.
3. Imagine some one has taken hold of a string attached to the top of your head and pulled it straight up to the sky.
4. When they let go your sat up really straight and tall.
5. Now relax slightly let your body sink just slightly (maybe an cm at most).
There, now your in a great neutral paddling posture. You don’t want to be sat up so straight that your tense. You want to be sat in a nice comfortable vertical position.
The effect of Flexibility and Strength on your paddling posture
Sometimes when you are first starting kayaking you mind find this seating position uncomfortable as it may be outside of your natural flexibility range. You can use the exercise in the fitness session to hep develop your flexibility and core strength. This will help you quickly improve your paddling posture and all round strength and making sitting in a good paddling position easier and more natural.
The effect of your connection in your boat on paddling posture
To maintain this good paddling posture it helps to have a good connection with the boat. Every connection point we have with the boat has an effect on how we perform.
Have a think about every connection point you have in your kayak. The points at which your body meets the boat. You should have connections at back band, your seat, your hip pads and your footrests. Use the how to outfit the boat guide to help you ensure you are getting the correct support and contact with the boat.
The 3 Key Paddling Positions
In paddling we often refer to 3 different paddling positions.
The aggressive / forward position. This is where you are sat up tall but slightly forward. Engaging your core you have you weight shifted slightly forwards in the kayak. This allows you to take the weight of the stern of the boat.
The neutral / central paddling position. Here you are looking to be sat up tall and relaxed with your weight over the centre of the boat. This is the neutral position.
The defensive / back position. Here you are still sat up relaxed and tall but you have the weight slightly back. This allows you to unweight the front of the boat slightly.
How to practice the 3 different paddling positions
Have a go at finding all three positions whilst sat in your boat on the floor.
1. Start in the neutral position (find a good paddling posture before you start using Exercise 1).
2. Then move your weight forward slightly.
3. Then back wards slightly.
Try and keep a good vertical posture throughout. Try and avoid the temptation is to just lean forwards or slouch.
4. Now try the exercise on the water.
See how a slight change of position has a quite dramatic effect on how the boat sits on the water.
5. Without your paddles try all three positions again. Think about the effect it has on your balance in the boat.
Now the key things with paddling position is that it is not fixed. It changes on a sliding scale. You may have a very aggressive forward position or just a slightly forward position it all depends on the situation and skill your using at the time. In paddling you will find that you will continuously use all three of these positions to help maximise the performance of your boat. Kayaking requires you to have an active body.
The one thing that does stay consistent throughout though is that you are sat in a nice comfortable vertical position. You are sat up tall with a good paddling posture.