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Common Whitewater Kayaking Mistakes(The top 5)

We all make mistakes when we start learning something new, and that’s okay. Kayaking is no exception either.

Let’s take a look at a few common kayaking mistakes. Most of them apply to new paddlers, however a friendly reminder for experienced professionals as well.


Be Excited but Not Overconfident

Entering the kayak and holding the paddle for the first time can be super exciting. It’s absolutely a must to enjoy the moment, but you should not be overconfident. Listen to your coach or guide, they know the best and protect you from a major mishap. Even if you know the basics, the local guide understands the water body much better than you: the route you are taking, depth of water, speed of the flow. In a burst of overconfidence, many new beginners go all out instead of paddling in the flat water when they start learning. Avoid it at all costs.


Wear the Gears 

Make sure you have a quality protective kit and gears before you go out to paddle. Whitewater kayaking may look harmless and straightforward, but many common muscle injuries may occur if you are not careful. Even the most experienced paddlers end up making these stupid mistakes and have to deal with surgeries. The three most essentials accessories are PDF (Personal Floatation Device), helmets, and spray skirts. They are life saviors in rapid river water. Choose the right size of the paddle. Beginners should use fiberglass paddles as they are lighter and easy to handle.

Avoid the Wobble

Kayaking is similar to driving a car, you need to stick to your lane. Sounds weird? Well, It’s not. Driving zig-zag and turning your steering wheel for no reason is a sign of a bad driver. Most new paddlers end up making this mistake; they wobble left, right, and center. Wobbling from edge to the edge means you are never in control and end up inviting trouble. Moreover, it also affects your speed. The smoother your kayak is, the better the paddling experience will be. Once you start to enjoy the flow of kayak without wobbling. You have become a pro.


Steering and Powering the Kayak

Understanding the Paddle angle is the most crucial aspect of kayaking. It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect set of paddles unless you know how to use them efficiently. Most beginners use a horizontal angle while paddling and end up exhausting themselves quickly. Experts will tell you to keep the angle vertical since it allows you to generate more power and retain the right balance.

Good kayaks know how to use minimum strength and gain maximum momentum. They use fewest strokes possible, unlike beginners, paddle like crazy. The sooner you learn the techniques, the better it will be for you. The knowledge of steering at the right angle also helps avoid joint muscle strains that are part and parcel of kayaking.

Drink a Lot of Water

When you are in the water all day long. It’s pretty common to not hydrate yourself enough. Do carry your favorite water bottle and make sure you drink plenty of it during your trip. Dehydration is never good, especially when you are under the sun for hours; it can make your feel dizzy and spoil the fun of kayaking. Don’t neglect the drinking water. It’s the best drink to have while kayaking.

While it’s great to learn from your own mistakes, it’s even better to learn from others’ mistakes. Most experienced paddlers and coaches have learned the common mistakes the hard way. In this age, when information is available on voice command, it’s criminal not to take advantage of the wisdom that is out there on the internet.

Kayaking is great fun. You just need to take care of important aspects and avoid making basic mistakes. Make sure you dress for the occasion. Kayak clothing, including dry suits, padding gloves, footwear with good grip, and solid sole not only make you look cool it also makes the experience worthwhile.

If by any chance things go wrong while kayaking, which they will time to time. Do not panic, stay calm, take a deep breath, and listen to the instructor. With all the knowledge and protective gear for kayaking, you will be safe. Remember, rivers are a friend of Kayaks, you just need to use the paddle with love. 

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