Essential Kayaking Skills

Novice Kayaking Lessons

Whether you’re kayaking or canoeing on a mellow Class I or II river, playing in a challenging Class III rapid or pushing the limits on Class IV and above, the essential paddling skills you need to maneuver a kayak or canoe safely and confidently, are the same. 

Learning these skills is a matter of taking it one step at a time. Our Zoar Outdoor kayaking and canoeing clinics progress from Novice to Class II to Class III and above, with each step along the way presenting its own challenges and rewards.

Novice Kayak Clinics

If you're curious about whitewater kayaking, and want to give it a try with a low time commitment, take our 1-day Novice Kayak Clinic. In this clinic you'll paddle a whitewater kayak and get a taste of whitewater kayaking while starting to learn the fundamentals.   If you are not sure about "sitting inside" a whitewater kayak, we also have sit-on-top river kayaks that you can use.  It's just as much fun without the sprayskirt or doing a wet-exit.  

2-day Novice Kayak Clinics give you a solid foundation of paddling skills.  We introduce you to the basics including:

  • Choosing proper equipment and clothing
  • Carrying a kayak
  • Entering and exiting a kayak
  • Essential flatwater strokes, braces and maneuvers
  • Edging the kayak
  • Proper body position
  • River safety
  • River reading and identifying hazards
  • Self rescue
  • Eddy turns, peel outs and ferries
  • Surfing

3-day Novice Kayak Clinic spends more time on:

  • River maneuvers; eddy turns, peel outs and ferries
  • Wave surfing
  • Depending on the group, we may also introduce rolling

5-day Intensive Novice Kayak Clinic gives you more practice time and by the end of the week, students are often:

  • Running Class II rapids with confidence and finesse
  • Playing on Class II surf waves and holes 
  • Rolling
  • Scouting and ocassionally running Class III rapids
Class II Kayak Clinic

Our 2-day Class II Kayak Clinic picks up where Novice leaves off by reviewing the basics and then focusing on: 

  • Improving students’ balance, posture and boat edging skills
  • Applying solid flatwater technique to Class II whitewater paddling
  • Gaining confidence with Class II eddy turns, peel outs and ferries
  • Eddy hopping and boat scouting down Class II rapids
  • Performing basic play moves such as wave and hole surfing on Class II whitewater and stern squirting on moving water
  • Using waves to cross currents
  • Depending on the group, we may also introduce rolling
3-day Class II Kayak Clinic Builds further skills from the 2-day
  • Spends time working on rolling
  • More technique coaching time and refinment time
  • Scouting and ocassionally running Class III rapids
Class III Kayak Clinic

1-day Class III Clinic, students learn:

  • How to break a Class III rapid into smaller, less intimidating parts
  • To plan and execute Class III moves consistently
  • How to read the finer points of a rapid and execute precision maneuvers
  • How to paddle aggressively in powerful current
  • Playing the river features for maximum effiency and fun

2-day Class III Kayak clinics also cover:

  • Catching micro-eddies
  • Rolling on Class II and III rapids
  • Using waves to cross powerful currents
  • Weighting and unweighting the bow and stern


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