List of Paddling Sports A-Z

List of Paddling Sports

Paddling sports are sports where the participants use a paddle to propel a vessel along a surface of water. Humans have been manually propelling vessels along water surfaces for thousands of years for transportation purposes, and today many choose to participate in these activities for sport and recreation. Some of the most popular paddling sports are kayaking and canoeing, which involve single or double paddlers propelling their respective vessels.

There are also many different variations of these popular sports that involve different bodies of water, varying sets of rules, and unique factors like standing versus sitting. While many choose to paddle competitively via racing against other paddlers, the world of paddling for sport also includes many paddlers who simply engage in this sport for exercise, basic recreation, or exploration of nature. In fact, many of these sports, specifically kayaking, are enjoyed by many tourists and vacationers who wish to explore different areas of the world in this unique manner.

Paddling Sports List A to Z


What are paddling sports?

Paddling sports are water sports where the participant maneuvers their vessel through the water manually by using a paddle. The objective of these sports can vary greatly and can consist of paddling races, paddling for exploration, or paddling through a course of obstacles. The type of water surface can also vary as paddle sports can occur in calm rivers, whitewater rivers,  lakes, or oceans.

Canoeing and kayaking have been the paddle sports of choice for many years. However, kayaking specifically has recently seen itself rise to the forefront of paddling sports more so than canoeing. Since 1990, kayaking has been considered one of the fastest-growing water sports. Over the last few years specifically, stand up paddleboarding has begun to challenge kayaking for the top watersport, with many finding new appeal in this surfing/paddle hybrid sport.

What are the most dangerous paddling sports?

Most paddling sports are considered safe when the proper equipment is used and proper precautions are taken. However, some paddling sports like the whitewater versions of kayaking, rafting, and slalom can be extremely dangerous even for experts. These extreme sports should only be done by professionals, under the right conditions, and with the proper equipment.

What are the origins of paddling sports?

One of the oldest paddling sports in the world is kayaking. Kayaking’s origins extend to over 4000 years ago by the Inuit, Yupik, and the Aleut tribes in the arctic areas of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. The kayak was used mainly as a mode of transportation or for hunting, as the word “kayak” actually means “hunter’s boat” in Inuit. Most forms of paddling sports likely expanded from this original form of kayaking.