Rotating the Kayak (the “hip snap”)

Question: I’m having problems with my hip snap.  I’m fit, strong and flexible but can’t seem to get the hang of the hip snap, especially when the water is cold.  Do you have any recommendations for dry land practice that could help this and translate to when I’m practicing in my boat?  I really want to add a roll to my skills but I’ve stalled out at this point much to my frustration!

Answer: The problem that you’re having likely has nothing to do with strength or flexibility. It’s probably just a timing issue and understanding what needs to happen with the leg. Try to think of applying pressure to the kayak as opposed to “snapping” the kayak with the hip. I think that the best place to learn this motion is in the water. Here I’ll describe an exercise with a right side recovery. Adjust as needed.

Begin by placing an inflated paddle float on your right hand. Let out enough air that you feel confident that you can take it off easily underwater. Stash your paddle so that it doesn’t block your sprayskirt and make your way into a Balance Brace. Keeping your body flat in the water, start to apply pressure to the kayak using your right knee, your right thigh and your right hip. Get the kayak to rotate so that it is as upright as you can get it. Then, using control with your right knee, thigh and hip, rotate the kayak back to its starting position and continue to rotate it until it is almost upside down. Keep rocking the kayak back and forth in this manner using only your right knee, thigh and hip. Make sure that your shoulders stay flat on the surface of the water and that your head is relaxed, with your eyebrows slightly underwater. You should start to notice the impact the right side of your body has on the kayak’s rotation. This is the motion for the roll. – Helen

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