Canoe Freestyle Moves

Your Guide To Canoe Freestyle Moves

Ahead of the 2022 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, we thought we’d give you an insight into some of the canoe freestyle moves you’re likely to see out on the Nottingham waters at the National Water Sports Centre in June 2022.

If you’re new to the world of freestyle, you might be forgiven for thinking you’d misheard the commentator at the event. “Lunar Orbits and Tricky Woos did she say?”

So we asked GB Freestyler James Ibbotson to break down some of the featured canoe freestyle moves you can look out for at the 2022 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships.

Canoe freestyle moves to look out for

The McNasty

The McNasty is a move that involves half a spin straight into a front flip (or loop), and is one of the staple moves that most freestyle paddlers can perform.

When done right it is far from nasty. This is a trick that offers up lots of points in a competition, and a strong sense of satisfaction when pulled off right.

Lunar Orbit

What on earth does the moon flying around have to do with freestyle kayaking? Well it is a trick that you see being thrown by many freestylers. Spinning around on the back of the boat, finishing with either a back flip or cartwheels.

The first half of the trick, the orbit, has been around for years. In my opinion, this trick looks the best in C1 discipline (using a one bladed paddle while sitting on your knees) but what doesn’t?!


This one you do on a wave, bouncing into the air and turning the boat round to be pointing downstream.

This is easily one of the coolest looking moves when you go huge on a giant wave, or throwing it round on a smaller wave. One of the most powerful and explosive moves out there.

Tricky Woo

Is it tricky? Does it make the crowd go woo? Well kind of. This trick is basically three cartwheel ends where you spin the boat around on each end.

This trick provided me with my favourite pieces of commentary at the Natural Games in France. The French commentator yelled out ‘Triiicky WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’.


Illusive, mysterious, appears out of nowhere? That’s the Sasquatch! Ride down the face of the wave, take a bounce and throw your weight back! Top marks if you get over vertical and wet your head!

The best Sasquatch are seen in the Canadian wilderness during stakeout season when the waves are at their biggest! One of the most fun moves to throw and see, they literary come out of nowhere!

These are some of the featured moves you’re likely to see in July, but what makes freestyle kayaking so exciting to watch is number of moves which can score you points during the competition.

Here are a few more moves you’re likely to see and hear during the five days of competition:

  1. Spin – A flat 360 rotation. It looks a bit like spinning around on flat water
  2. Shuvit – A 180 spin one way and then 180 back the other way
  3. Cartwheel – A 360 spin with the boat on its end
  4. Split wheel – is half a cartwheel, then a 180 pirouette on the nose, then half a cartwheel on the other side
  5. Loop – is an easy one to identify, as it’s a front flip
  6. Back loop – similar, but a back flip instead
  7. Space Godzilla – is a loop with a twist to one side. Like a wonky loop!
  8. Phonics Monkey – a 360 pirouette on the front into a loop