Grabbed Popped Back Loop Kitesurfing Technique

Grabbed Popped Back Loop

Technique / Intermediate


Mastering the hooked in grabbed popped back loop is a pleasure whatever your level. If you’re an aspiring popper this move will teach you a thing or two about rotation control. For the more advanced there is a lot to be said for practicing the fundamentals hooked in, giving both your mind and body time to adjust, learn and understand critical movements. So once you claim this you’ll be seeing the light on a plethora of back loop based moves, both hooked and unhooked.

So what are you aiming for?

Achieving a slow rotation is a must if you want to fit in a bona fide grab, and not just a cheeky tickle. So if you feel that you may be guilty of manically throwing yourself into a back loop, spinning, eyes closed and waiting for the comfort/relief of the board touching down first, this one is definitely for you. If you’re trying to learn something like a back to blind this will also serve you well!

Also in large letters is up pop. As you’ll not be using the kite you’ll need to get your height from your pop. This means that the “exploding” back leg must send you skywards, as opposed to spinning you through the wind. This ties in nicely with the previous point too.

Finally you will be looking for a modicum of inversion in your rotation. We’re not suggesting that you execute a back flip, but if your board goes up and you roll slightly back in your harness then the grab will be considerably easier and of course more stylish. As you may have guessed this also ties in quite brilliantly with the previous two points.

Some of the Finer Points

Pic A. Karine is but nanoseconds from lift off and this picture is all about the approach and therefore the preparation. Even though this is a pop trick and you’ll not be sending the kite, you can still position it high enough to get some float and assist you around, so forget this 45 degree nonsense and park it about 11 or 1. To make sure she can get the lusted after up pop, Karine pushed the board well off the wind before starting her carve upwind. She did this by dropping all her weight back over the tail of the board, softening her back leg and moving her hips back, whilst pushing the nose of the board away from her. The further you go off the wind, the more time you can carve into the rotation but still give yourself the chance to pop up off the water before the board has turned too far into the wind and your back leg does nothing more than spin you manically. You can see her board is slightly nose up as a result of her weight being back, and she’s got quite some edge which combined with an early hefty stamp will result in decent up pop. Final thought, the more your bear away off the wind before a pop trick, the more down wind you land.

Pic B. This is a great moment of contradiction. A moment earlier would have captured Karine fully extended upwards much like a high jumper, as she gave it her all to head skywards, but now in anticipation of the grab she is already bringing her knees up. This can be a tad confusing so do make an effort in thinking about extending before compressing. You can see how she is airborne and the board has not turned through the wind yet, which means she’ll have plenty of time to grab during the resultant slow rotation, all due to going well off the wind and stamping off her back foot early. Karine’s board is heading up in front of her into a gentle position of inversion. This is as a result of her having all her weight back over the tail of the board as she carved, as this rocked her back in her harness. Final point to note is Karine’s head. She’s not biting her ear, looking over her front shoulder in a manner that only owls should be capable off. She has her head looking almost forwards between her shoulders, which yet again stops her spinning too fast.

Pic C. Now we can see the result of all the previous good work. With the early up and inverted take off, Karine needs to pull her knees in, release her back hand and look for the grab. This is not a mega upside down invert, but plenty adequate to get the correct rotation and make the grab easier and better looking. Karine has just turned through the wind, but she’s got plenty of height and oodles of time. This is what it’s all about and as you can imagine with this sort of control and rotation you’ll be able to do so much with your back loops! You can see that Karine is focused on her grab, this way she’s not looking for her landing over her shoulder and thus will not spin round. Important here is to keep the bar in, the lines tense and therefore you’ll have the float from the kite assisting you, and to hold that grab for as long as possible so it’s a grab that counts, not a freeze fame imposter.

Pic D. Once Karine feels herself dropping she turns her head to see where she’ll be landing. She keeps the bar in, and with the kite moving forward on tight lines she should have the speed for a soft landing. Its important to get the board back underneath you so you’ve got a solid platform to land on and if you can extend you legs you’ll be able to land on a flat board rather than a bouncing edge. This will of course mean that you’ll have to reluctantly release that grab. With the down wind approach, early take off and slow rotation you should land slightly off the wind.

Top Tips

As is often the case multitasking can overcomplicate things, so break this down into two stages. Firstly really work hard on your approach and inverted early take off. With two hands on the bar and the placebo belief that they are supporting you you’ll be better equipped to concentrate on going around slowly and not feeling the need to rush.

Once you’ve got a slow back loop down, start to release you back hand some time before landing and work on getting it earlier and earlier until you get that grab that counts.

To get a decent early pop off your back leg, don’t bend it too much in the approach and carve. If your leg is really bent the board will turn underneath you faster than you can say grabbed popped back loop. If you flex it but resist you’ll be ready to stomp off it and in a better position to rotate comfortably.

Following Sequence 1

  • Pic 1. With her kite at 11 o’clock Karine has gone off the wind with her hips back over the tail of the board and a straight front leg. She carves hard upwind, leaning back and pops up off her back leg early into her back loop without using her head to spin.
  • Pic 2. Karine extends upwards to the sky. All her energy and pop is directed up whilst her carve sends her into a slow back loop. Karine keeps the bar in to keep tension on the lines and gain some float from the kite.
  • Pic 3. With the board rising in front of her towards a more inverted back roll Karine releases her back hand in preparation for the grab.
  • Pic 4. Slowly rotating Karine lifts her knees towards her chest and stretches her arm out towards the board.
  • Pic 5. Now half way around her rotation Karine looks towards where she wants to grab the board.
  • Pic 6. And firmly grips it on the rail, pulling the board in towards her. This bit should feel good.
  • Pic 7. Karine holds the grab, keeps the bar in and stylishly waits as she comes around.
  • Pic 8. Once Karine sees downwind she rather than prepare for landing she holds her grab just the little bit longer for the grab that counts…
  • Pic 9. The as she feels herself start to drop Karine looks towards where she thinks she’ll land and reluctantly releases her grab.
  • Pic 10. Keeping the bar in Karine extends her legs down to get the board underneath her.
  • Pic 11. And lands tail first with both hands back on the bar.

Common Problems

Spinning too quickly, and therefore either having no time to grab. Make sure you ho downwind and pop before you turn through the wind. Really make an effort to extend up before tucking up, AND don’t use your head to turn, not a wise move.

Over rotating the back loop. If you let the bar out whilst grabbing you may well over rotate, but assuming that you didn’t sneak the kite up it’s far more likely that you’ve thrown your head around, so keep it looking forward between your shoulders. If you’re still over cooking it try diving the kite as you come in to land.


  1. Bear Away
  2. Hips back
  3. Pop Early – No Head
  4. Extend
  5. Grab

This technique article was in Issue 30 of IKSURFMAG.


By Christian and Karine
Christian and Karine have been working together as a coaching team, running improver to advanced kitesurfing clinics since 2003.

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