5 Benefits of Pool Sessions

For a kayaker any time devoted to sitting in a boat is always time well spent.  Kayak pool sessions offer a great avenue for new kayakers to get their sea legs as well as intermediate and advanced paddlers to continue improving their form and technique.

pool session for kayakers

Ashlee is all smiles working on her off side roll at a local pool session

1. Predicable Environment

The pool setting can alleviate a great deal of anxiety by providing a comfortable and warm environment.  This can make all the difference when learning or improving any paddling skill from bracing to rolling to bow stalling.  Mastering a skill through mental and muscular repetition makes it much easier to perform in a more chaotic situation.   Devoting even 15 minutes at a pool session can open new doors.

Pool session for kayakers

Kayak polo is a great way to meet new boaters at your local pool. Photo: Zach Collier

2. Get to know your community!

Attending a pool session can expose you to a wealth of knowledge and experience.  In addition to the possibility of hearing tricks and techniques from certified kayak instructors you can also gain information on local river runs, projects and trip opportunities.  Pool sessions are also a fantastic way to meet other kayakers with your same goals as well as kayakers with different skill sets.  These connections can lead to friendships, paddling buddies and support your overall paddling goals.

kayakers at local pool session

Pool sessions are great places to perfect your paddle strokes as well as your kayak roll

3. Strength train and muscle memory

There are many exercises that paddlers should do to stay in shape however nothing works your paddling muscles quiet as well as paddling.  If you have ever practiced rolling for more than 30 minutes you know it can be exhausting!

Even after you develop a reliable roll it is important to maintain your core strength, flexibility and calm mindset in order to maintain a bomb proof roll.  I have heard many advanced paddlers say that their roll has weakened or that they have lost it all together.  Their reasoning is often that they do not use their roll because they flip less frequently.   Unfortunately, we never each a point in our paddling careers that we become invincible to catching an edge and toppling over therefore everyone can benefit from a good old fashion roll practice.

kayakers at local pool session

Typical kayak pool sessions are 2 hours long and you can come for all or part of it.   Photo: Zach Collier

4. No shuttle, no excuses

Without much planning or travel involved, pool sessions are a perfect way to get in a boat and kick the winter blues!  Pool sessions usually last about two hours and if you show up for any amount of that time it will be worth it!

Picture this, it’s already dark outside and cold and you haven’t boated in a few months but you have a free evening and there is nothing stopping you.  You arrive at the pool and as you wiggle into a kayak you recall the fresh air of summer.  You flip, you tuck, your hips come to life with a trusty snap and you are up right again, take a breath and repeat. You leave the pool with a new slide in your glide and the delightful sensation of success.  Maybe you didn’t accomplish everything you had hoped but you are still beaming from the knowledge that you bravely put a sincere effort towards making a dream a reality plus you’ll sleep really well!

kayakers at pool session

Jesse Becker practicing his back deck roll Photo: Zach Collier

5. Gain confidence and independence as a boater

One of the greatest things about kayaking is that everybody swims.  We all start at the same starting point and where we get from there depends mostly upon our efforts.  When you see an incredible boater you can trust that they have spent a lot of time practicing.  Pool sessions present an opportunity for you to practice! You get in a boat because YOU want to, you set the pace and you can work on any skill with the only expectations being the ones that you set forth.

The pool is not flow dependent, you do not have to know the lines or have someone lead you down and you can usually always see the bottom.  There are few unknowns and you really get a chance to focus on the pieces, melding together all the advice from your friends, you tube clips and your own experience to create YOUR own paddling style.

If you are interested in attending a pool session we’d recommend calling your local pool to check dates, times and prices.  Also be sure to ask who is putting the session together and if they have instructors, boats and equipment to use or rent.  Get up, get out, getting rolling!

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About Chrissy Wilson

Connecting with people while immersed in the wonders of nature is where my joy is generated. River guiding and kayak instruction has allowed me to earnestly say, “I love my job.” The river’s edge or suspended by its moving waters are the greatest places to be and I love sharing them as much as possible. “Rivers know this: there is no hurry.” - A. A. Milne Although I have lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life, my first multi-day river trip wasn’t until I was in my early twenties. Shortly after, I became a guide with Northwest Rafting Company on the Rogue River. With help and support from amazing friends I also learned how to kayak on the Rogue and became a certified ACA kayak instructor. My first experience as an instructor was with Sundance Kayak School and First Descents and I am hooked! Kayaking has enriched my life and the inspiring people I have meet along the way have convinced me that it just keeps getting better! This summer will be my fifth season guiding with NWRC and my second season as an instructor with Team Sundance. I have had the pleasure of paddling just over 30 rivers within the United States and I am excited to see where else it will take me. Let's go boating!