Water-Based Drills To Improve Kayaking Technique

by Jess Fox

‘Kayaking training is quite varied. I usually do 6 white-water sessions every week that focus on the technical aspects, plus 1 flat-water physical session where I practice a race simulation or loops.’ says Team Australia Kayaking Champion Jess Fox.

Here are 4 great functional warm-up drills. ‘I love doing those types of exercises to really work on my speed and power.’

DRILL 1 – Good for flat-water sessions focusing on power

  • Put a 10kg weight in the boat, then perform 3 sets of sprints.
  • Remove the weight and replace it with a 5kg weight. Do 3 more sprints.
  • Remove the weight and perform 3 sprints using just your bodyweight and kayak weight. At that point, you’ll feel super light and super fast – a great feeling to have just before a race.

DRILL 2 – Working with elastics helps to improve technique

  • Tie one end of the elastic around your waist and tie the other end to a pole, pontoon or even your coach.
  • Paddle away from the point of resistance. As you do, you’ll build a lot of resistance and tension. Keep paddling.
  • When you feel like you can’t get any further, turn the kayak around and sprint at full speed.
  • The elasticity helps to increase speed, providing assistance and helping you to travel much faster than you would normally be able to. As you paddle to keep up and keep control, it trains your body to have more power and react faster so that when you’re racing and you don’t have the elastic, your body will be pre-conditioned to respond in the same way, with or without it, leaving you with more energy to concentrate on the race itself.


  • Spend 5mins easy paddling.
  • Circles on sweeps going left, then right.
  • Offside edge donuts, first left, then right.
  • Then 1 up left, 1 up right, 1 up left on reverse, followed by 1 up right on reverse.
  • Stagger left with bow rudder, then right; stagger left with sweep under, then right.


  • Spend 5mins paddling.
  • Do a 10m sprint. Rest for 1min. 20m sprint. Rest for 1min. 10m sprint. Rest for 1min.  

Jess Fox is one of Team Australia's most successful Olympic sprint canoeists ever. She is an Olympic champion and silver medalist, 4-time World Champion and 6-time IFC Canoe Slalom World Champion.

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