How To Paddle A Kayak Straight (The Right Way!)

Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the water. But it can be tough to learn how to paddle a kayak in a straight line. Nothing could be further from the truth.

With good reason, kayaking is one of the most popular water sports. It’s relaxing, fun, and a great way to get exercise.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the different ways to learn how to paddle a kayak in a straight line. 

How To Paddle A Kayak Straight
How To Paddle A Kayak Straight

Here’s The Answer To How To Paddle A Kayak In A Straight Line

The best way to paddle straight is to look at where you want to go and maintain that angle. If you’re paddling with a partner, it’s important to stay coordinated with them so you’re paddling in the same direction (for instance, if one person is paddling left, the other should be paddling right). 

This can be difficult for beginners when working independently, but staying focused on your goal will help keep you from veering off course. 

Also, keeping your paddle in the water while looking at what you want to hit keeps your kayak moving straight. It’s best to practice this technique by paddling away from the beach and watching a stationary point, such as a tree or post.

Keep your body centered over the kayak and paddle in a consistent motion. Look where you want to go as you paddle, and keep your body perpendicular to your direction of travel. 

For forceful paddling strokes, keep your knees bent 90 degrees and engage your thigh muscles.

The Correct Technique To Hold Paddle

The Correct Technique To Hold Paddle
The Correct Technique To Hold Paddle

The correct position for paddling is with your arms straight and your elbows bent so that the paddle shaft rests comfortably in the crook of your armpit.

Your hands should be placed in the middle of the paddle shaft and about a foot apart. This will allow you to control both ends simultaneously, making manoeuvers easier and more efficient.

Your hands should be relaxed as well—no excessive shaking or squeezing! If there’s too much tension in any part of this motion, we run into problems: wrists can’t move properly; shoulders tense up; breathing becomes strained; etc.

Finally, remember that wrist position is key here: they should be straight while paddling (not bent back or forward), but relaxed enough that they don’t get tired quickly if you’re using them continuously over several hours on end!

Position Yourself Correctly

The best position to paddle a kayak is with your body facing forward. This allows you to utilize the most power with each stroke and gives you the most control over where the kayak goes.

If possible, try positioning yourself so that your torso is leaning slightly forward while sitting on top of the kayak (not in it).

This will give you an easier time moving around the boat when needed, such as performing turns or accelerating through rapids.

Additionally, make sure your arms are fully extended with one elbow pointing toward the sky when paddling straight ahead.

Your body will move smoothly with each stroke instead of jerkily from one side to the other or backward and forward.

Correct Forward and Reverse Strokes

How to Paddle a Kayak Straight (The Right Way!)

Forward Stroke:

  • Keep your paddle in the water at all times.
  • Push down on your paddle as you pull it forward and up as you bring it back, making sure that the blade stays flat on the water’s surface.

Reverse Stroke:

  • It is recommended to keep your knuckles and arms in the proper position. To do so, make sure you are facing forwards. The front of the kayak should be facing backward.
  • When you are paddling, make sure you are keeping your body straight. To do this, your knees should be bent 90 degrees. After you have bent your knees, keep your feet flat. Additionally, you should maintain a straight spine and relaxed shoulders. This will allow you to achieve the ideal level of equilibrium.

Make Sure Your Kayak Is in The Right Shape

Make Sure Your Kayak Is in The Right Shape
Make Sure Your Kayak Is in The Right Shape

Before you even step onto the water, make sure your kayak is good. You should check the hull for any holes or cracks and ensure that it’s not too heavy or too light for you.

If the boat is too small for your body type, it will be harder to paddle and control. The opposite is true: if your kayak is too big, it will be harder for you to maneuver around obstacles and other boats on the water.

Make sure your seat fits comfortably with as little adjustment as possible before heading out into open waters; otherwise, this could cause problems later down the road!

Practice, practice, practice!

Make sure you practice paddling on flat water before heading out on the water. If you do this, you’ll have a better sense of your kayak’s characteristics and how it responds to paddling.

It will also help build up the muscles and endurance needed to paddle in strong winds or choppy conditions. There will be certain things to get used to, just as in any new sport (like trying out different strokes).

You might find that one stroke is more comfortable than another, so try them all out at least once before deciding which works best for you!

Why It’s Difficult To Paddle A Kayak In A Straight Line?

The most common reasons for kayaking in a straight line are:

  • The paddle is not placed correctly.
  • The paddle is too big or small for your size and strength.
  • The shape of the boat you are using makes it difficult to paddle in a straight line.
  • Your position in the boat may be off, causing you to lean away from where you want to go, causing your kayak to turn instead of going straight ahead.

Benefits Of Paddling A Kayak In A Straight Line?

Benefits Of Paddling A Kayak In A Straight Line
Benefits Of Paddling A Kayak In A Straight Line

Benefits of Paddling a Kayak in a Straight Line

  • Less stress while paddling.
  • More efficient use of energy.
  • Enjoy a smoother ride.
  • Maintains control over your kayak.

Is it safe to paddle a kayak in a straight line? What are the risks of not paddling a kayak in a straight line?

Reduces Stress While Paddling

  • Less stress on the body
  • More efficient use of energy
  • Less fatigue: less effort to paddle, so it’s easier to keep going for longer
  • Enjoyable: no more paddling with a crooked neck and sore arms – enjoy yourself!
  • Reduces the risk of injury: if you’re not stressing out your muscles and joints, they won’t get damaged as easily. This includes wrists, shoulders, back, and neck.

More Efficient Use of Energy

To paddle a kayak straight, you need to use your body’s power. When you do this correctly, you can exert less energy and still get the same effect as paddling harder.

This means that it’s easier for you to keep going for a long time, so it’s such an important technique. The key is using your core muscles and legs instead of just your arms when paddling straight.

This will make it so that even though you’re using less energy than before (and therefore getting tired less quickly), you can still move forward at the same speed!

In fact, even though most people associate kayaking with being very difficult to work (which sometimes leads them not to want to try).

Enjoy a Smoother Ride

If you’re a newbie, it is most likely that your kayak will be moving sideways more often than not. This can be extremely uncomfortable and cause injury to your back, shoulders, and wrists.

To avoid this issue, you should always strive to paddle straight. By paddling straight, you will increase the efficiency of your strokes by at least 50%.

Paddling straight keeps your body comfortable for longer periods which means less strain on those key areas mentioned above.

You might think that paddling straight is easier said than done but with just a little practice and some guidance from someone who has experience in kayaking (like I did), you’ll be able to master it within minutes!

Maintains Control Over Your Kayak

When paddling a kayak in a straight line, you are gaining control over your kayak. This is because you can maintain a hand position that is good for steering, and you can stay in an upright position.

This also means that you can paddle with less wind resistance and use your paddling skills to move forward with more momentum.

It’s possible that an experienced paddler could use less force and still maintain good forward velocity. This is because you can use an efficient stroke that uses less energy.

Overall, the easiest way to paddle a kayak in a straight line is to keep your top hand close to the kayak and paddle with a wind-up. This will help you maintain control over your kayak and paddle with less effort.

Is It Safe To Paddle A Kayak In A Straight Line?

Is It Safe To Paddle A Kayak In A Straight Line
Is It Safe To Paddle A Kayak In A Straight Line

Yes, it is safe to paddle a kayak in a straight line. Paddle stroke, posture, and proper paddling techniques are the key to success. Turning the kayak is also possible with the proper use of a rudder.

  • Paddle stroke is the main factor in moving the kayak forward. The proper paddle length and use of the dominant hand are key. The power phase of the paddle stroke should be used to move the kayak forward.
  • Proper posture is also important when paddling a kayak. Using foot pegs and proper back support will help keep the paddler in the proper position.
  • Turning the kayak is possible with the proper use of a rudder. The rudder should be used to turn the kayak in the desired direction.

Paddling a kayak in a straight line is safe if the proper techniques are used. Paddle stroke, posture, and proper paddling techniques are the key to success. Turning the kayak is also possible with the proper use of a rudder.

What are the Risks of Not Paddling A Kayak In A Straight Line?

Not paddling a kayak straight is a big deal. It could lead to:

  • Injury. If you are not paddling your kayak straight, you may hit something in the water that can hurt you.
  • Capsizing. When you don’t paddle in a straight line, the wind will be pushing against one side of your boat, causing it to tip over!
  • Damaging your boat and hurting yourself in an accident while trying to get back on course after capsizing could also happen if you’re not paddling properly.
  • Hitting other watercraft or obstructions with your boat because they are harder to see when it’s out of alignment with its intended path. This may also occur if this situation continues without correction from whoever is driving their vessel at that time.

Can You Paddle a Kayak in a Straight Line Over Long Distances?

The short answer is yes! If you are only paddling for short distances, it is very easy to paddle in a straight line.

Keeping your kayak pointed in the same direction for the whole of a long day on the water can be difficult.

The more distance you want to travel with each stroke of your paddle, the harder it will be for you to maintain that straight line.

This is simple: when paddling over longer distances, there will be more muscle fatigue involved because it requires more energy than simply covering smaller areas with fewer strokes.

In addition, there will also be ocean currents or wind that may push against your kayak and make maintaining your course difficult even if those items aren’t affecting other boats nearby!

Does The Type Of Kayak Matter To Paddle In the Straight Line?

If you want to go straight, it helps to have a kayak that’s designed for that purpose. While any kayak can be used for paddling in a straight line if you’re skilled enough, some are more suited than others.

For example, if you’d like to move in a circle or move in several different directions at once (i.e., move straight forward while also moving at an angle), the best choice is one of these:

  • A sea kayak
  • A touring kayak
  • A river-running craft

How To Improve Your Kayaking Skills

If you wish to improve your kayaking skills, do the following exercises:

  • Use a kayak that is appropriate for your skill level. Try renting or borrowing an inflatable kayak or sit-on-top model if you are just learning to paddle. These boats are lighter and less expensive than hardshell models and are easier to maneuver.
  • As you become more comfortable paddling in these types of boats, then consider purchasing a hard shell so that it can take years of abuse from water sports like surfing and fishing.
  • Practice paddling in straight lines over long distances with different strokes such as the sculling (sweep) stroke (paddle blade parallel to the boat), forward stroke (paddle blade perpendicular), and backstroke (the reverse direction) or draw stroke (draw water from the side).
  • Use each stroke on purpose as if performing an exercise routine. Repeating 200m for each stroke type twice before switching strokes again will help improve flexibility when switching between them. During longer journeys across open water conditions requiring endurance beyond what might otherwise be possible, use only one method alone!


The conclusion of this blog post is that to paddle a kayak in a straight line. You need to have a paddle stroke with the center of your blade in the center of your kayak.

If your blade is too far forward or to the rear of the kayak, your kayak will not be able to maintain a straight line. This is why your stroke should be performed as if you are paddling a surfboard, with the center of your blade in the center of the kayak, and your arm should move in a straight line.

I hope this guide has answered your questions regarding paddling your kayak in a straight line. You can learn more about kayaking by going to our website.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back for more posts.

Frequently Asked Questions