Learn Kayak Strokes: The High Brace

kayak stroke high brace

Both the high and low brace are important kayak strokes to learn so you’re able to keep your kayak upright in a self-rescue situation.

The high brace is the most powerful stroke you can use to recover yourself on your way to a capsize, even when your kayak is almost upside down.

While they can be used somewhat with recreational kayaks, they’re especially effective in sea and touring kayaks.

The High Brace

Each brace produces a paddle slap on the water, which is momentary help for you to hip-snap your kayak back. Take a look at this video with ProStaffer, Ken Whiting, to see what we mean as he demonstrates the high brace:



Ken’s main points in this video are:

  • The paddle provides some help, but the main strength for snapping back to an upright position comes from your hip and “bottom” knee. Your head should follow your hip and knee in coming back up, not lead them.
  • This combination of movements is counter-intuitive. That means you need to practice it until it becomes natural.
  • Look down at your paddle while you brace and it’ll be hard to lift your head too soon. If you lift your head too soon, you risk losing your momentum.
  • The high brace is in the push-up position, while the low brace (discussed below) is in the pull-up position.

Keep These Tips in Mind for the High Brace

The high brace is very effective, but it can put your shoulders at risk for injury. So here are some important tips:

  • Even though it’s called the high brace, you need to keep your paddle low on the water.
  • You’ll use the power face of your paddle blade for the high brace.
  • Practice the brace on both sides of your kayak, keeping your brace elbow and forearm low and your paddle as horizontal as possible.
  • As you tilt, you’ll lower your head as you slap the water, then let your head follow your knee as you right your kayak.

The Low Brace is Another Option

The low brace works, too. The difference is your position: you’ll use pull-up form rather than push-up. Ken demonstrates it in this video:



Self-rescue is one of the most important skills to learn, especially if you prefer to kayak alone. When you become competent in the high and low brace, you’ve gone a long ways in helping you stay safe when you kayak.  

Do you have questions about our kayak paddles? Contact our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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