Whitewater Kayaking Hub

How to Bow Stall a Kayak in 5 Actionable Steps

In this weeks breakdown we wanted to look at today was a more basic flatwater move that teaches the control and the basis that you need for pretty much all flatwater freestyle

A move that anyone can try.

And everyone should know.

The Bow Stall.


Now, this may not be the sexiest move, but it is a key move for all flatwater freestyle and will help you to progress to more advanced moves on the river, such as the Macho Move.

The bow stall is where you balance the kayak on its nose (bow) so that the boat is vertical. You then hold this while your friends try to push you over…

Or maybe I just have bad friends?

It is a great move to practice when you learn how to freestyle kayak as it teaches you all about edge control and where the balance points are in your kayak.

Plus it makes you practice your roll, as I guarantee that you will end up upside down when you are starting out…

Now, first things first…

This is not a move to try in a creek boat…

I mean you can give it a go…

If you manage to get it we will post it on our page… guaranteed.

But for mere mortals, you will need a freestyle kayak or a full-slice kayak.

There are two approaches to the bow stall.

1. The ploughing ender.

where you paddle forwards and plug the nose under the water. If you continue to paddle, you will pull yourself vertical with enough practice.

But this method will only help you for the bow stall and will not transition over when you start to look at other more complicated tricks.

So we’re going to focus on:

2. The double pump

Here’s how you do it:

Love it Live it Bartosz throwing a peace sign whilst in a bow stall in a whitewater kayak freestyle jackson rockstar


How to Bow Stall

1. Edge

The first thing you want to do is to get your kayak on it’s edge.

You want to be able to slice the bow underwater.

But not fall in.

Right on that balance point. this should be at about 45 degrees… ish..

2. The stroke

When you are on that balance point, you want to take a stroke to pull your bow up and out of the water.

Keep your core tight and your body centered.

Slow and controlled helps here, don’t rush.

Rotate from your core, around your paddle in the water.

With the bow out of the water (a little goes a long way) you can then switch directions.

3. The Push

Whilst maintaining your edge, place your paddle flat on the surface of the water.

Both Blades on the surface at the same time.

Keeping the paddle on the surface, rotate from the core and drive your feet under the water, forcing your bow down and the kayak to come into the vertical position.

4. Stop Momentum.

Having both paddles in the water now comes into its own.

You can now push off the opposite blade to stop your momentum from continuing into a cartwheel. (We’ll get onto cartwheels in a future breakdown)

Press down with both blades and you should be vertical.

5. Balance

Now comes the hard bit…

It may take a few attempts to get to this stage, but you will get there.

Experiment with the amount you edge and the stroke you take.

Once on your bow, you now need to stay there…

To balance you want to keep pressure on both blades at the same time.

Keep your core engaged and sat upright, which is now horizontal…

Just stay with me here…

You can then use SMALL adjustments to keep yourself in the upright position.

We say small because, a small movement can have a massive effect, especially when you are starting and don’t have full control.

You want to make a tripod between your boat and your paddle blades.

If you feel yourself falling to the left, push off with your left blade to keep yourself centred.

If you feel yourself falling right, push off the right blade.

If you feel like you are falling forward then you want to pull your paddle blades closer to your body. This may seem counterintuitive, but it will push the boat more vertical.

The opposite is true if you feel yourself falling back.

keep your eyes looking forward, not down. Find a marker in your line of sight and try to stay focussed on that.

This will take some time to master, but keep practicing and you will get it.

It is such a great tool to learn control in your freestyle boat and is essential if you want to start learning flatwater freestyle.

Once you have the bow stall nailed you can then start to link it with cartwheels and practice stopping the rotation.

Then you can work on bouncing and throwing flatwater loops…

But we’ll get there….

For now, give the bow stall a go and tag us in your attempts.

This video from Love it. Live it., breaks down the move and includes some drills you can use to help you stick it.

As ever, we are happy for you to send us some clips and we can help give you pointers if you are struggling!

Good luck and catch you in the next one,


P.S. This article is pulled from our Newsletter, if you want actionable tips to improve your kayaking then sign up here

If you enjoyed this post, try our How to Loop Tutorial!


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