Games to Play While Teaching Kayaking

Mature couple canoeing in bay, smiling

Basic kayak skills are essential before heading out on the water. Simple games incorporating necessary kayak strokes can help your students practice proper technique while having fun in the process. Be sure each of your students wears a personal flotation device and is informed of basic maritime rules on the water before starting your games.

Forward and Back Paddle

Choose a single landmark or point visible to everyone out on the water or position yourself out on the water and have your students race their way to you with either a forward paddle or a back paddle. The winner can be determined by who reaches you first or by whoever maintains the straightest course to you or to the goal.

Sweep Stroke and Edging

Position your students in a circle and direct them to sweep-stroke on the side of the boat matching the outside of the circle. Have them continue to sweep-stroke on that side until they’re able to generate enough momentum to create a whirlpool effect in the water. Or have them repeatedly spin a figure-eight in the water by performing a sweep stroke on one side, and the repeating the same number of sweep strokes on the opposite side. Correct sweep strokes should move them in a figure-eight pattern.


Release a number of beach balls or playground balls on the water and have the boaters beat each ball into the water using a bracing stroke with their paddle. The person who can hit the most balls within a given time period wins the game.