Reverse strokes are used to propel the kayak backwards. This skill is useful to get away from hazards, into and out of narrow creeks, sea-caves, gauntlets, or in rescues.
- Maintain normal hand position.
- Place the back of the blade on the water as far back as your torso rotation allows (keeping your elbow tucked into your hip to protect your shoulder).
- Keep your paddle shaft almost parallel with the kayak - you achieve this by torso rotation.
- Fully immerse the blade and bring the paddle forward by unwinding your torso.
- The path of the blade runs almost parallel to the kayak, instead of sweeping.
- Pull the working blade out of the water when the working hand is about mid-way between your knee and foot.
- Repeat the stroke on the other side.
- In ruddered boats, neutralise the rudder either by keeping it square with the kayak or by retracting it.
- It helps to keep pressure on the foot-peg on the opposite side of the stroke (the reverse of what you would do for a forward stroke).
- If you feel unstable you can take a slightly climbing blade a little wider to get support.
- Look behind you at least each alternate stroke.
- To protect your shoulder, don't let your elbow go above shoulder height or behind your hips.
- Insufficient torso rotation.
- Turning the blade to use the face. You should power the stroke with the back of the blade.
- Find objects that form a gate for you to paddle through backwards, e.g. free mooring buoys, piers, etc.
- Practice the stroke in a broad range of conditions.
- Increase the challenge by combining this with some steering strokes at the bow.