Skip to content
header image

Displaying: All Categories / All Activities

Is slalom useful for creek-boating?

Posted: 10.01.2014 BY Michele Ramazza

Lots of creek kayakers want to buy a slalom boat to start training to get a better paddler. Is that a good idea or not?

Slalom kayakers have a better technique rather than any other paddlers but, is this enough to prove the slalom training is necessary to improve?

Many people asked me about slalom training to improve creek boating skills. I think is very easy to connect the fact that slalom paddlers are good kayakers and the idea that slalom training is important to get better. However this assumption could not be completely correct.

Slalom kayakers are probably better paddlers because they use to spend a good part of their life on a kayak, training day after day in order to clean every single stroke to improve race performance. They had learned to 'read' the water, remember lines, use in the correct way the power and a lot of balance in the white water. Of course, if you give a creekboat to a slalom kayaker, he is going probably much better than most part of creekers. Despite this fact, the question is: how strong he could have been if he had spent his training life in a creek boat rather than in a slalom one?

I spent probably my training life half on a slalom boat and half on a creek boat. I'm convinced that the two techniques are quite different and I spent a lot of effort in order to switch from slalom to creek. The body movement is completely different and the boat's tails have opposite behaviours. The creek boat slides sidewise much more than a slalom one, requiring different paddle strokes to keep it in line.

The key concept is: to improve skills is necessary to train a lot and focus on every detail to create an efficient movement. The more the training is similar to the discipline, the better it is.

Slalom is a very good school which teaches how to train, read the water, remember lines and give a lot of balance, but the technique is significantly different to the creek boating one. Freestyle can be useful as well in order to learn a very good roll and to control the kayak while is stacked into holes or is surfing waves. However, to really learn the creek boating technique, there is nothing better than train on a creek kayak.

Sometimes I train with slalom guys because doing gates is a very good training for hard lines. I do this training sessions with my plastic boat and I almost can do everything like my mates. Of course my shoulders are a bit tired at the end of the day to carry my boat up the course million of times, but I always found this kind of training very useful.

Doing different disciplines is never a bad thing, changing movement gives a great chance to learn, especially for kids. What I'm saying is that if you have one chance or two a week to train, it's better to focus in the closest movement to the sport you are training for. If you can train 5 times a week, you can spend some time doing different disciplines as well.

I hope these considerations can help. If you want to check my technique section go to