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Kayaking Fundamentals: How to Do the Hip Snap

The hip snap, or hip flick, is a key component of several essential kayaking skills including the high brace, low brace and all kayak rolling techniques. In this segment of our Kayaking Fundamentals video series, instructor Ken Whiting shows you how to practice the hip snap on your own or with a partner. Once you’ve mastered this technique, you’ll be ready to learn more advanced rolling and bracing skills for sea kayaking and whitewater kayaking.

The hip snap is the technique you’ll need to use every time you lose your balance. It’s undoubtedly the main thing you need to master before trying to learn to roll your kayak. The idea behind it is simple; by staying loose at your waist you can use your knee to roll your hips and level off a flipped, or flipping, kayak. You need to have the kayak’s outfitting, the hip, thigh and heel pads, customized to your body so that your hip and knee movements are transmitted to the boat.

You need some support for your upper body to execute the hip snap. Usually that will be your paddle, but you can even learn to roll just using your hands. The fact that you can roll up using your hands both shows how important the hip snap is, and how much easier it can be when you have your paddle for support.

To practice the hip snap, you can use something like the side of a pool or a low dock. Better yet you can use the end of a friend’s kayak. Get a firm grip, roll the kayak on its side and lay your cheek on your hands. Relax your hips and use your top knee to pull the kayak over on you. You’ll know you’ve gone far enough when the cockpit rim comes in contact with your body. Then, use your lower knee to level off the kayak. Again, you’ll know when you’ve gone far enough when the cockpit rim touches your side.

Practice the hip snap this way until it feels natural and instinctive. Now you’re ready to move on to mastering braces and rolling your kayak!