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What Skills does Flatwater Canoeing Teach Kids?

12 March 2024

Flatwater canoeing looks simple and serene, and often, it is. Flatwater canoeing takes place on still bodies of water, such as large ponds and lakes that do not have currents or waves. Canoeists would also not head onto the water in excessive wind. However, another reason flatwater canoeing looks so easy is that the athletes have mastered the basic skills to manoeuvre and control the boat perfectly.

If you have the equipment, it’s great fun to head out with your kids on a glorious day and paddle around. The chances are they’d get to know the boat quickly and be able to get by. However, suppose you’re keen for your child to learn the basic canoeing skills correctly. In that case, it might be worth enrolling in a local paddleboarding club to ensure they receive proper training, and if they do, instructors will teach very quickly, making them proficient canoeists.

Safety and risk

Although it’s not a physical skill, understanding safety and risk on the water is so important that children will receive instruction on it straight away. Learning water safety is crucial, so they know what to wear to stay safe and understand safe behaviour. The instructor will ensure children know what to do if they encounter difficulties on the water. Another aspect of safety is making sure children learn how to carry the equipment without hurting themselves or those around them.

Getting in and out

Getting in and out may seem like one of the most simple skills, but it’s pretty tricky if you don't know how, and there is the risk of the canoe wobbling, your child falling in, or the boat tipping over. This could see them getting into difficulty, so instructors will ensure they learn the correct way of getting in and out, and it won’t take long for them to master.

Paddling Forwards

Although paddles are straightforward gadgets, they can be challenging to control and use effectively for children. Instructors will take time with your child to teach them how to use them properly; otherwise, if they cannot, they may not enjoy their time on the water because using them wrong could be extra hard work. Once they get the hang of this, your child will likely find canoeing calming and quite therapeutic.


Another essential skill your child will learn from their instructor is how to stop. This is so important to avoid an accident, such as your child hitting another canoe or anything else in or around the water. Reversing the forward motion of a paddle to reverse is the first step in learning this skill.


Once your child can effectively and efficiently move forwards with their paddles, they will learn the skill of turning. Using one paddle repeatedly to turn and knowing what force to use to turn a certain amount takes time to master, but it means they can more or less go where they want on the water and avoid bumping into others along the way.

Photo by eMiL rAjAn

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