These are important concepts to understand as they have very different applications in improving at whitewater kayaking. It’s really important to be able to understand the differences in these concepts because they effect how your boat moves through the water very differently. Spin and carve are both fundamental concepts that all beginner and advancing paddlers needs to be able to understand visualize and feel.
Nut Shell: as it sounds, spin momentum is generated on a flat rotational plain, for beginner paddlers this is generated using a sweep stroke. Accomplished with little to no forward speed and can be described as the stern washing out. During spin momentum forward speed not acquired, often times there is a tendency for boat to be unstable. Often for quick dynamic turns and direction changes not for eddy turns other basic skills.
Our goal here is to get the boat to care. To do this we need speed, the paddler will edge the boat and apply power to the paddle blade. The stern will follow the bow in an imaginary line. As long as the paddler is not leaning the boat will be stable and the stern won’t wash out. The arc of travel is greater in a carve than in a spin. This gives the paddler the ability to generate cross current speed and move forward in proactive manner. Carve momentum is the desired technique in most whitewater moves, it allows the paddler to be more dynamic, proactive and drive our boat where we want is to go in a powerful aggressive manner.