Playboating is a discipline of whitewater kayaking canoeing where the paddler performs various technical moves in one place (a playspot), as opposed to downriver whitewater canoeing or kayaking where the objective is to travel the length of a section of river (although whitewater canoeists will often stop and play en-route).
Specialised canoes or kayaks (boats) known as playboats are often used, but any boat can be used for playing. The moves and tricks are often similar to those performed by snowboarders, surfers or skaters, where the athlete completes spins, flips, turns, etc.
With modern playboats, it is possible to get the kayak and the paddler completely airborne whilst performing tricks.
The competitive side of playboating is known as freestyle kayaking.
Playspots are typically stationary features on rivers, in particular standing waves (which may be breaking or partially breaking), hydraulic jumps, ‘holes’ and ‘stoppers’, where water flows back on itself creating a retentive feature (these are often formed at the bottom of small drops or weirs), or eddy lines (the boundary between slow-moving water at the rivers’ edge, and faster water).
These moves are scored by the International Canoe Federation, and are used in official competitions worldwide.