|All right, so you've decided that you want to learn how to paddle|
a kayak, but you're not sure where to start. Should you take
lessons, learn from an experienced friend, or wing it on
The answer is that all of these options can work, and have
for thousands of paddlers. Learning on your own can be
tricky, and you'll probably make every mistake in the book
before you get comfortable, but it certainly is a viable
option. Just make sure you're in reasonable aerobic
condition, have a modest amount of smarts and common sense,
and are willing to be patient.
A good kayaking instructor, on the other hand, can make the
whole process much easier--and safer--and it doesn't have to
be a formal instructor from a paddling shop or business.
If you have friends or family who are experienced paddlers,
consider asking them for some informal instruction. Just let
them know that you're just starting out, and that you'll
need a lot of patience and understanding for the first few
excursions. If you have access to a pool that allows kayaks
in the water, this can provide a great way to get some
initial training, especially in getting your roll mechanics
If you don't know any experienced paddlers, consider joining
a local kayak club in your area. These clubs and
organizations can be great resources for all kinds of
paddling information, tours, instruction, and networking.
You may even find someone in the club who's a certified
instructor or who's willing to help a newbie get their feet
(and all their other parts) wet.
And then, of course, there's the option of finding a
certified kayaking instructor. Ask to see the person's
resume, and any certifications and formal training he or
she's had. And before you whip out your checkbook, ask to
see your perspective instructor on the water. Does he or she
seem skilled and confident when handling their kayak? Does
their equipment look to be well maintained? Do they explain
what they're doing and why they're doing it?
Most of all, how does this person come across? Do they
appear to be patient and approachable? Do they answer your
questions quickly and with confidence? Is this someone who
makes you feel comfortable? Without a good rapport, after
all, it's almost impossible to get the most out of any
instruction, paddling or otherwise.
In the end, the best approach to learning how to kayak is up
to you. If you feel comfortable learning on your own, go for
it. Just make sure to take your time and always think safety
first. If you decide to go with an instructor, take the time
to choose wisely, and get the most for your training
Kent Johnson--author, webmaster, kayaker
Want your next kayaking adventure to be the best ever?
The Kayaking Journal--your source for paddling tips and info
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