How to make your kayak stop

How to make your kayak stop

Great so now you know how to go. Kayaks don't have brakes. How do you stop? How do you go backwards?

(The 3 Golden Rules of Recreational Kayaking video credits to PaddleTV)

The answer is doing a forward stroke in reverse.

++ To perform a backward power stroke, rotate the torso to the stroke side and look back to the stern of the kayak. You need to be able to see where you are going anyway so you might as well turn and take a look!

++ Place the back side of the paddle into the water behind the cockpit and close to the side of the kayak and with a high shaft angle. This will provide more power with less turn than placing the blade further out from the side of the kayak.

++ Rotate the torso back to the neutral position while bringing the stroke side forward along the side of the cockpit.

++ The off-stroke hand moves back toward your head at about eye level. The power of the stroke is transferred to the kayak through back of the kayak seat. The legs again play a role in bracing against the torso rotation, but to a lesser extent.

++ Keep the upper body slightly bent forward in order to keep the lower spine straight. This will reduce the strain placed on the lower back.

When you wish to stop your kayak, utilize a moderated form of the backward power stroke. Because your kayak will have considerable forward momentum and you do not need to see in back of your kayak you can reduce your head turn and moderate your torso rotation. Place the backside of the blade in the water slightly behind your seat with you stroke side elbow in tight against and hold the paddle motionless as the kayak drags it through the water. It is not really necessary to move the paddle blade forward through the water. The kayak will turn slightly to the stroke side. Repeat on the other side. It should be possible to come to a complete stop from your highest forward speed in two or three strokes.


  • Most kayaks go backwards as easily as forwards, but some are very difficult to keep straight going backwards. Tilt the kayak to control direction by lifting the knee on the side you need to turn towards. Also placement of the paddle closer or farther away from the side of the kayak will help control the direction.
  • Don't forget to turn far enough to see where you are going.

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