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The idea of play boating or freestyle sometimes gets mixed responses from kayakers who are traditionally from river running backgrounds. Interestingly many such people who go on kayaking courses want to increase their boat control, or have a lack of confidence in their roll which then manifests itself a lack of confidence to run rapids or hit lines.

It is therefore puzzling that freestyle sometimes still gets a mixed response, so here’s a bullet pointed list of reasons why freestyle is good for your kayaking, no matter what your main focus is on normally.

Yeah, sometimes you will suffer from ‘freestyle face’
  1. It’s immense fun! Let me put it this way, I have yet to come across a person who I have persuaded (and some have taken a lot of persuading believe me!) to give freestyle a go who has then told me they hate it and can’t be bothered. Quite the opposite!
  2. It massively, massively improves your roll from all different positions and scenarios.
  3. When the rivers aren’t running (which in the UK is the majority of the time) you can still go boating in an exciting environment. There’s always a feature somewhere.
  4. It hugely improves your balance and boat control.
  5. It hugely improves your water reading ability due to more familiarity in three dimensions with the types of features you might be fearful of on a normal river trip.
  6. It helps your general fitness.
  7. It gives you more skills and techniques to use to escape if you do end up in a hole on a river trip (and will help you to stop panicking in such scenarios as well).
  8. Even if your only nearby water is a flat water lake or river it means you can have immense fun on it, thus saving you huge amounts of travel, especially if you only have limited time.
  9. Related to the last point, if you have a busy life or family, most people have some sort of flat water of some sort near by, so it allows you to have fun for an hour or so without having to give up a whole day.
  10. It allows you to develop advanced boating skills in a relatively safe environment.
  11. You don’t usually have to herd a big group of people with all the logistics associated with that just for a simple and fun boating session.

To those who still refuse to entertain the idea and have never tried it, let me ask you to ask yourself a straightforward question. Do you consider yourself to be open minded or closed minded? I’ll leave that right here.

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