Mastering the Hip Snap
The hip snap, or hip flick, is a technique that you'll use to recover anytime that you lose your balance. And, it's without a doubt the most important technique to master before trying to roll.
The idea behind the hip snap is simple. By staying loose at your waist, you can use your knee to roll your hips and level a flipped or flipping kayak. In order to do this effectively, you'll need some form of support for your upper body. For braces and most rolls, your paddle provides the support. But, for a hand roll, you'll use your hands. The fact that your hands provide enough support to roll your kayak upright is a testament to how important the hip snap is.
To practice the hip snap, you'll need to find something stable enough to keep your head above the water when your kayak is completely upturned. If you're alone, you can use the shoreline, the side of a pool, or a low dock. Better yet, use the bow of a friend's kayak. Either way, get a firm grip, lean right over on your side and lay your cheek on your hands. Now, relax your hips and pull the top knee over to let the kayak collapse on top of you. You'll know the kayak is far enough over when you can feel the cockpit rim hit you in the side. From this position, I'll then pull on the trailing knee, which is the one that's underwater. Pull it up to level off the kayak. I'll know I've leveled off the kayak as much as I can because this cockpit rim will hit me in the other side. Keeping my cheek on my hands, I'll pull the boat over to repeat the whole process. The goal here is to maximize your hip rotation while exerting the least amount of pressure on your hands.