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Kickflip 101: How to Kickflip a Kayak – The Easy Way!

This week we’re looking at the kickflip!

The kickflip is one of the sickest tricks in kayaking.

Definitely one of the most stylish and impressive.

And it’s surprisingly easy!

It does take some practice but once you get the hang of it you will be styling down rivers all over!

In short, a kickflip is where you launch off of a wave and then you do a 360-degree rotation in the air on the horizontal access of your kayak

A full barrel roll in the air of the back side of the wave

(Hopefully) Landing and continuing your way downstream

So how do you Kickflip?

How to kickflip a kayak

How To Kickflip A Kayak

First of all, you need to be able to find a good wave to practice on.

Steep waves, the bigger the better (within reason) are ideal

A small foam pile breaking on the top can also really help you get a big boof off of the top.

The ocean is a great place to learn kickflips if you have access, as you have consistent waves that you can practice on…

And you don’t have to walk back up to the top of the wave train to keep trying…

So how do you actually kickflip?


The Launch

The first thing you want to work on is the launch.

Speed is your friend here…

Head downstream towards the wave and paddle hard to build momentum

You want to maximise the launch off of the wave.

Head for the steepest part of the wave and as you hit the trough, drive up the face of the wave and place a boof stroke just before the lip.

Use this stroke to pull yourself up and over the wave, as high as possible.

Re-visit the boof tutorial if you want to work on this…

Before you practice the kickflip, try a few straight launches to work out the timing to get the biggest launch you can

The edge

To throw the kickflip, as you are coming up the face of the wave, you want to start to edge in the direction that you want to throw.

As you are at the lip you want to have a hard edge.

If you are throwing right to left then you want to drop your left edge down and lean on your boof stroke to bring your boat to 90 degrees as you launch off the back of the wave.

This will kickstart your rotation and allow you to spin much faster

If you try to throw the kickflip from a straight boof then you will struggle to get the full rotation to the trick.

If you whack the edge on, you will be a quarter of the way around, before you even throw the trick!

Help yourself out!

The Spin

Plant the paddle behind your hips and spot your landing.

To get the biggest kickflips you want to pause slightly so that you get maximum air before you throw.

At the peak of your height, as your kayak becomes weightless, push off of the back of your paddle and throw your body aggressively around, pushing the boat over the top of your head.

The paddle in the water gives you much more control over the rotation of your boat.

Keep your head down here as this will increase the speed of your spin.

If you try to bring your head up, like you are trying to dry-head back deck, you will slow your momentum.

The Recovery

If you have followed these steps, you should be upside down mid-air.

To finish the trick, reach across with your blade (the other side to the one you boofed with)

Grab the water and pull yourself upright to finish the rotation and provide stability in the landing.

You can think of this like a back deck roll.

It can take a while here to nail down this part as a lot of people get their paddle stuck as they throw this move.

To help with this, make sure your paddle is feathered so that it can slice through the water if it does catch.

Just like the back deck roll, if you do catch the water, sit forward aggressively and use this to bring the boat back around.

The best way to get the paddle around is to be fast and grab the water on the other side with the active face of the paddle.

Think about cranking over your knee and snapping your hips.

The bigger the wave the less you will have to do on this stroke as you will have more time in your rotation.

The Finish

Now you are upright you want to paddle away.

Continuing the paddle strokes as soon as you land increases your stability and prepares you for what is downstream.

You can use a brace to stop yourself from falling in after the trick.


How to Kickflip a Kayak:

  1. Build Speed
  2. Edge on the lip
  3. Boof to Launch yourself off the wave
  4. Push off the back of your blade to start the rotation
  5. Head down and aggressively throw your boat over your body
  6. Reach through and finish the rotation
  7. Paddle away!


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