Kayaking is a dynamic sport utilizing many different physical and mental skills. This is one of the reasons why paddling is so rewarding, and more often than not leads to a lifetime pursuit. Paddling, be it flat water, sea, or whitewater has the unique ability to captivate, challenge, and inspire us. You can look at paddling as a sport, or as a hobby, but anyway you view it, you are sure to find happiness on the water.
A well rounded kayaker is someone who takes the time to develop their paddling skills both on and off the water. Many of us get stuck in ruts without even realizing it. Be that paddling an afternoon lap of your home river, or park and playing at the same wave everyday. Ruts lead to maintenance, not development. All too often I see people paddling the same boats everyday and running the same rapids every time they paddle. This is without doubt fun, and there are few cooler feelings than getting to know a section of river or a particular boat better than anything else. But if progression is your goal, keep this in mind: Try utilizing your section of water in as many different ways as possible.
Try different Boats – For example, if your main outing is running the James river in a play boat, try taking a long boat out for a lap once a week. Inversely, hop in a playboat often! Different types of kayaks help you develop boat control skills in different situations and can benefit you paddling in all crafts. For example, bossing around a little playboat on a big-water run can really make you more comfortable when you jump on a creek in a big boat and have to make a large ferry!
Spice up the lines– On whitewater, try new lines! Find new moves to make, new ferries and different rocks to boof. Try stern squirting eddies and combo squirts to ferries. The sky is the limit with this and you can find new lines on your home river for years to come. Don’t forget, try this as your skill level increases, only doing lines you are comfortable with and have folks around the first time you try something new. In the flats, try finding new islands, bays and make a course. Switch it up often.
Explore different disciplines– The best paddlers in the world spend a great deal of time on flat water. There is always room to improve the most basic of skills in paddling, most importantly the forward stroke. Long days on the flats with emphasis on technique helps make form become muscle memory and can only make you a stronger paddler. Try freestyle kayaking if you spend most of your time in a river runner. The skills you will learn during freestyle will sure help you when you get stuck in a big hole on the river! Try slalom and attaining for a workout. It will help you get stronger and keep you fit for long days on the river. Not to mention, it’s fun!
Find whats right for you. Everyone is different, the right balance is important. Try the above and break out of those ruts! Switching it up keeps paddling fun and makes everyday new and exciting. Talk to us at RVA Paddlesports and we are happy to help you make a plan.