Hip Flick

Can anybody tell me the secret of doing a hip flick. I’ve searched achives and watched videos. Even tried on land, others can make the boat move and I just can’t do it. We hit the pool this coming Sunday. When I sit in the kayak my knees are rotated 45 degrees out with good hip contact with the seat and thighs pressed good against the kayak. to drive my knees into my chest the knee would have to turn back to center of the kayak and up. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Wilmington, NC

Which videos?
The hip flick is a bit of a misnomer. It is more like a knee lift IMO. Have you watched ‘The Kayak Roll’ video by Kent Ford? This video uses a cut away boat and a SOT to illustrate the knee lift.


Try watching some videos of the KING

– Last Updated: Feb-06-05 10:19 AM EST –

AAAylvis may have been the KING of rock and roll, but I bet he would have been a hell of a kayaker. You have to get those hips moving while keeping your head and upper spine still. Try sitting upright in a chair, keep your head still but shift your weight from one butt cheek to the other. That is the 'hip-flick' in action.

Try to imagine
You’re down at the high school gym, you go to the parallel bars and hang there with the bars in your armpits. Now swing your feet,legs and butt left and right. You are using a lot of the same muscles that you do in the flick, snap, whatever. Of course, in the kayak your knees are in contact with the deck of the boat and transmit much of the power to the boat. Maybe if you don’t think about what to do with your knees so much, and think of the kayak as an extention of, or the lower half of your body you’ll do better. You are not trying to drive your knee anywhere in particular, you are trying to move the boat under you.

Hope this helps. Lots of the instructions and descriptions and pictures that I studied didn’t really click in my mind until I looked through one book that suddenly “clicked” for me. It was a typical “Now I Get It” moment. Keep looking, you’ll probably find yours soon.

Practice in the water

– Last Updated: Feb-06-05 2:34 PM EST –

best thing is to lay your hands on a bow of a boat. then keeping your head just above water let you boat capsize on top of you. See how far you can get it to go over. then, keeping you head low on the water, right the boat as much as possible. repeat hundreds of times over the course of lots of sessions.

The King's pelvic movements were way more lateral IIRC. if you put a yardstick across the top of his pelvis it would not deviate that much from horizontal. Your hips should go through as much of an angle as possible. Way more than 90 degrees.

Your knees will do the driving, the power will come more from your abs than from the legs though.

hip flick
Don’t think of a roll as rolling yourself back up on top of the kayak. What you are actually doing is to “flick” the kayak UNDER you. One poster on this thread made a reference to Elvis, which I thought was good. The late Jackie Gleason also demonstrated some good “hip technique” with his unusual dances. Hope this helps.


Ya! what Wetzool said, I to had a
Problem with the Hip flik thing after seeing Ken Ford’s video “The Kayak Roll” I didn’t even have to worry about the hip thing. For me it’s about the reach with the paddle and blowing bubbles. The hip flik is crap! (IMO) The driving Knee is where it happens.

I watched the video a few times and rolled for the first time twice in a row. I had gotten some lesson and practice most of the summer?

Ken Ford is my hero! Thanks to him and his video I have a roll that works in real life not just in the pool!

My two cents, George

come to my house …
i live in Edenton, NC … i’ll teach you to roll.

hip flick
Like others have said it’s a knee driveing up and the opposite foot pushing forward on the foot brace that flips the kayak. I like my hips to be a little loose.

Up/sideways Confusion
As above, once you get you’ll not be able to remember why you thought it was difficult. But the directional thing is a little confounding, since you don’t really drive your knee (or thigh if you have a really good fit) up or sideways at the absolute start.

Remember the above posts about rolling the boat underneath you - then think about how you would start the motion if you were sitting upright in the boat. You’d actually lift that knee/thigh straight up to start, right? Then the fact that the boat revolves in a circle would take over, and almost immediately that upward motion would start to angle progressively more sideways as your leg followed the motion of the boat rolling over.

It’s the same thing upside down, except that everything is reversed. When you are fully upside down, the absolute initial motion is actually a push downward from your “on” side knee/thigh to start the boat rolling. As that motion is continued it starts to more resemble a sideways motion, because your leg is again following the motion of the boat circling upward.

The closer to fully upside down you are, the more the very initial motion will be downward (towards the bottom of the pool) rather than sideways.

There are different ways to manage your body, your paddle and the timing of it all once you have started the boat moving. That can be worked with a teacher, suffice to say the successful ones support the continued movement of your leg and therefore boat in an upward circle.

I am absolutely NOT any expert at rolling - still horribly erratic - but it’s never been for lack of good hip snap (which I agree is not really a great description for what you are doing). Good abdominal and quad strength is also very helpful.

On fit - you say that your legs are at 45 degree angles? I’ve had a solid hip snap thru three boats, and have personally found that the ones where my legs were really splayed out and I didn’t have good contact on my thighs were much more tiring and fussy to get started in a rolling motion. The easiest is the boat I have now, where I am in tighter, lower and straighter with my legs and have great thigh contact. You may want to practice with a boat in which you are a little tighter, just to get the initial feeling of this.

Hope this helps - Celia

Login confusion again…
Celia not Jim…

just one thing I forgot - yeah, the kee is splayed out howver far to the side needed to keep good contact on the thigh brace, and the initial impulse is downward from the point at which the thigh has the best contact with the brace.

It’s a little anti-intuitive muscularly… soemtimes I think it’s easier for us women-folk.

Celia (done now)

You need to teach your body what to do. Start with your boat upright and simply rock the boat back and forth (side to side, of course). Don’t think about it. Don’t imagine what is happening. Just do it. Then with someone standing by to roll your boat back up if you tip over, get more vigorous with the rocking. Next slow it down in the sense of a fast rotation with a 5 or 10 second pause at the end of each rotation (a J lean). Move on to the side of the pool or the bow of a boat and do the boat rotations suggested in a post above. Start slow and gradually increase the speed. If you are in a pool, put a sponge on the pool edge (if it is low enough) and use only your head being sure to keep it in contact with the sponge at all times. Finally get a buddy to hold your boat by the cockpit rim and tip you to increasing angles of being tipped over. Rotate the boat as much as you can just as you have been doing. Your buddy will finish off by bringing you to upright after each rotation. Good luck!

Not a flick not a knee no effort
Quote from Jay Babina says it for me,

Rolling is truly one of those techniques that’s easy to learn but a long road to refine because it’s a marriage of physical technique and the kayak itself.

I first learned to roll in my muscular youth, only now as an older dude do I find that it is effortless to roll when the boat fits like a glove at all points, the rear deck low, and there is a muscle and body orientation feel regardless of where I am under water. Rolling is a gradual motion of rotation of the boat with your body floating nearer the surface, up you go in alignment with the rotation for the no effort of coming up. It is a shame that rolling is taught to us in rental boats we can barely feel points of contact. Only then can one learn to relax sufficiently to let go on one side of your body and get the boat rotating under you.

Of course there are many styles, for many different body types and different boats and room for muscle rolls too!

As You Noted And I’ll Emphasize More…
the reference is really to very low volume, tight fitting boats with low aft decks relative to the paddler. This type of boat is easy to balance brace, scull and layback roll with. It, however, doesn’t apply to the majority of folks who are paddling much higher volume, expedition boats mostly the norm being put out by manufacturers.

Most folks would do well to learn to hip snap (and head dink) to bring their boats back up over. Surf boats present specific challenges as well with the “knife like” sharp rails. You really hit the “wall” when trying to roll these. Unless, you forcefully hip snap, chances are the roll isn’t going to be successful. The exception to this would be folks surfing on jacked up seats (thus lowering the aft coaming) but this not suggested for most folks because the initial stability is gone in the rough conditions of the break zone. Surf boats have no “secondary stability” to speak off. Either you up, or you’re over, unless you’re generating serious inertia while ripping a wave. In this case, you can be seriously on edge and a stern rudder will provide additional stability.

Best thing is to get one roll down solid and then to play around with different rolls and then in different boats.


My $0.02 from a non expert
I certainly don’t have the best roll in the world but have learned how to do it.

Can you find a really good instructor for your pool session? Someone who can show you how to do boat rotations on the side of the pool. Rolling the boat off of you, forget about all the technical descriptions, learn to feel how it works and it will become easy. I also found the Ken Ford description of engaging the rolling Knee to be helpful. Also found Eric Jackson’s advice to make the rotations very snappy, increasing the speed, until you can really whip the boat around just using your torso. If you go to a gym and they have a torso rotation weigth machine, that’s the perfect device to get the feeling on dry land. Finally ignore all the experts that tell people that if you can roll one boat you can effortlessly roll any boat. It depends on your body type and boat hull shape. When you are starting out there can be vast differences, I’d find a whitewater boat that is certifiably easy to roll to work on learning how. Good Luck, practice on learning by feel not by descriptions.

Thanks one and all for the wonderfull advice and replys. I’ll print this all out, practice and practice.

Thanks again


knee lift
Since I have back and neck problems I don’t do much of a hip flick-but I do a knee lift which provides a lot of power for my sweep roll. Here’s a two meg video for anyone interested in seeing my interpretation of a sweep roll. It was taken in the Lake Superior Provincial Park, Miji lake.


Nice roll David.
Who took the movie?

My daughter took it with the digital camera. We were with Nancy’s LOAPC group. BTW, I just picked up an Animas so I hope to make a few pool sessions now.