Freestyle is not a set of rules and a bi-annual competition, it is a way to make kayaking ever more fun. With this in mind, I want to take the time in this blog post to encourage you to give freestyle a try. There is simply no better way to improve your roll, make lower grades of whitewater more challenging and have a great time. Which brings us to one of the earliest freestyle tricks and also one of the most basic and easiest to learn, the pop out!

The pop out despite being old and basic is still awesome, it requires very little high-end skill other than the ability to eddy out, keep your kayak flat and lean forwards. To learn this trick you will have to find a relatively deep and friendly hole, preferably with eddy service so you can try again and again. If you only have a shallow spot, don’t be put off, you can still try this trick – you just won’t be able to get as vertical.

1/ Set up

Ferry out of the eddy and position your kayak on the back of the foam pile, make sure that your kayak is completely flat and not on edge.

2/ Plug in

You’ll feel the hole is slowly starting to suck you in. As you get close to the seam line (the place where the foam pile and green water meet) you’re going to push down hard on your feet and lean forwards. This is going to push the nose of our kayak underwater and start the trick.

3/ Stand up

As the water is piling over the front of your kayak, the tail will be starting to lift and you are on your way to getting vertical for our first time (sick!). To encourage your kayak to get even more vertical, lean back and stand up on your footrest, raise your arms and paddle above your head.

4/ Land it

At this point, your kayak will be dead vertical and all that’s left to do is enjoy this weird/awesome/new feeling (and get ready to land). Sometimes you will land upright and other times you will land on your face … if you’re going to land on your head make sure you keep your elbows tucked in so that you don’t hurt your shoulders.

5/ Celebrate

You just got vertical in your kayak for the first time and opened up a whole new dimension – awesome work dooods! When I was learning this trick I couldn’t roll, which just made it all the more exciting as I tried to find the ideal mix between getting vertical but not too vertical (so I wouldn’t flip over). Remember that this is a basic trick and as long as you are trying it in a location where it is safe to swim then it is ideal for any level of kayaker to try!

Get vertical, don’t take yourself too seriously and have a great time on the water! – Bren Orton