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How to Master the Front Loop in a Kayak (In Just 6 Easy Steps!


The front loop is a front flip in your kayak, often thrown in a hole, but can also be thrown downstream as a macho move, or just in flat water.

The loop is an integral part of any freestyle kayaker’s playbook and is a core skill before advancing to more technical tricks such as the Phonics Monkey or the McNasty.

The technical definition for ICF, for anyone wondering, is a vertical front flip initiated and finished between a horizontal angle of -20° and 20°, landing in the hole or on the wave and is worth 60 points.

Who knew…

Basically, it’s a front flip that lands straight…

And it’s awesome!

Here’s how to do it…

How to loop a kayak

1. The Setup

You want to get yourself to the top of the foam pile of a hole.

(For practicing new moves, a deep straight hole is the most ideal training ground)

Straighten yourself out so you’re looking upstream (12 o’clock)

2. The Plug

Sitting upright, take a stroke to pull you upstream to the green water.

You want to plug your bow just in front of the seam, where the green water meets the foam pile.

Throw your weight towards your knees and kick your feet down under the water.

Make sure you keep looking upstream for the biggest loops

Keep the core engaged to stop the boat from spinning out either way.

3. Stand Up

As your feet sink under the water, the boat is going to start getting vertical.

Now you want to pull your paddles into your chest to keep them out of the water and lean back so that you stand up.

This will push your boat into an upright position

When you are at max depth, you will feel the boat start to pop back upwards.

Keep your eyes looking upstream to keep the boat straight

4. The reach

Reach for the stars!

No seriously, reach up and look up.

As high as you can.

This is what will drive the pop and get the big air points!

5. The Flip

As the boat becomes vertical you want to throw your hands and weight aggressively forward.

Just like you would if you tried a front flip without a boat.

Crunch with your core to tuck up into a ball.

Keep your shoulders square and try to look directly downstream.

Kind of trippy…

This will force the boat over your shoulders and start the rotation.

6. The Kick

As you come round and land on your stern you should still be leant forwards in a tight crunched position

Now you want to kick your legs explosively upstream.

This will open your body up and force the bow of the boat upstream.

And there you have it!

You’ve just front-looped!


You’ve read about it…

Time to jump into a kayak and give it a shot!

A playboat will make this 1000% easier, but it is possible in a creek boat.


Tips to take your loop from zero to hero!


When you are learning, keep your paddle in the water when you initiate the plug.

This will allow you to keep your boat straight and stop it from spinning out.

Over time you will get used to the water pushing your bow down and you won’t need the extra stability.


Start by trying a front handspring…

As you go for the plug, reach up and when you rotate – throw your paddles into the water and use the paddles as a pendulum point to swing around from.

This will make the opening of the legs much more pronounced.

You may not go as big.

But will help you feel the motions when you are just getting started


Look where you want to go.

This could be a newsletter in itself but is so important

Make sure you look upstream to stay straight.

and then when you want to get air, reach up and look up at the sky!

This will push you up and out of the water for the biggest air.

If you keep looking down you won’t be able to reach up and therefore you won’t get any height.

This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they are learning.

To be fair, it’s difficult not to look at the water when you start…

But give it a go!

Everything happens in quick succession on the water.

Practice makes progress.

Keep working at it and you will get there.

Nick Troutman has a great breakdown of the trick, check it out.

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If you liked this article, check out our how to boof tutorial!

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