If you’re someone who is considering becoming a whitewater kayaker then knowing how to balance a kayak is a very key to know. Balancing your kayak is a learned skill, if you want to get better at it here are some simple principles that you definitely have to understand. The two terms you need to know is Balancing and Leaning. You must understand the difference between them and how to properly do them. As I said before these are learned skills so take your time because precaution more times than not leads to safety; your safety!

When you go to balance a kayak there are two areas of your body that you should pay close attention to, and they are the torso muscles and the stomach area. When you do this you are making sure the kayak can function properly in the river as it comes up against the current. So, basically the kayak goes through the current with less resistance as compared to not having balanced the kayak at all. While out there on the river you are trying to avoid two things, and those spills, and flips. They happen when the kayaker tense up, and fight the current when you should relax your stomach and torso muscles to keep the kayak balanced.

Now on to leaning, you use leaning to ensure that the kayak does not flip. There are several causes for the flips, as we said earlier not having the proper balance, also the rapids, waves, and holes. The forces of the river have to be counteracted by an opposing force, and that is where “leaning” comes into play. This again, is a learned skill that is only obtained by practice, but once you master it you have thus moved on from being a beginner.

So the question that may come to is, how exactly do I “lean” my kayak? Well you have ways that are taught to beginners, which is the obvious ones, such as leaning side to side and using your hip to lift the kayak slightly. There is a more difficult lean to learn and that is the J Lean, trying to explain it here may not be sufficient so it is best to get a experienced kayaker and perhaps a certified trainer. However I will cover the general idea about J Leaning.

The J Lean’s general is to keep head and torso as straight as possible, and lift the kayak with your hip and simultaneously leaning toward the kayak. That is the best way to do one. Also remember not to use your paddle to balance. As I said earlier get a trainer or an experienced kayaker to show you how to properly do this.

Anthony Witherspoon researches and writes on various subjects, such as kayaking. For more information please visit at http://www.kayak-depot.info/Store/Whitewater%20Kayaks

By: Tony Witherspoon

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