There are four kinds of hops worth discussing. The first is the delicious female flower, also known as the seed cone or if your Peter Cundel, “The Strobites of the Humulus Lupulus species.”
This type of hops is the one that gives the 18 and older people amongst us a tangy bitterness they enjoy when indulging at the pub with a beer. Interestingly this first type of the hops will only increase the likely hood of failing on the other three hops and the fact is that it’s better to just use this hops when embellishing a story one tells their friends about their other hops.
The second type of hops is for when you are little and are inventing new means of movement and is perhaps the least useful means of travel next to skipping though it’s fun to watch my niece and nephew try and it’s worth noting that even this hop is very hard after the hips discussed previously
Lastly, as a barefooter we come to the only two forms of hops worth discussing at length and wonder why we wasted so much time on the above. The “backwards” and “forwards” hops. Both easy enough in their own right but both come with a chance of a real mind-bending head whack. So I must caution, start small and if at any stage you feel a crash is imminent, let go. The boat crew will think your soft but you won/t have the headache that comes after a good session on the hops.
The Forward Hops.
The first of the hops and the by far the easier of the two, is best learnt on a bar and with flat water. Keep your regular speed and aim to jump very small at first and work your way up.
- Start low. Bend down so your backside nears the water before you start to rise and jump. This has two main benefits. The first being that you never have to get too tall when you leave the water and the second is that it allows you to use your knees to jump instead of your ankles.
- When you jump, drive with your knees, (incase you missed that from the last point) and keep the handle where it is. Don’t lift it or pull it in and don’t let it out either. Just keep a tight line with the boat.
- If you took my prelude seriously, then good on you for knowing who Peter Cundle was and forgiving me for using the word “hops” 12 times in an introduction that took 4 paragraphs. You will also have noticed that I said start small. It is honestly the best advice in this instructional. But when you start to jump bigger, try to relax in the air and keep your eyes on the horizon.
- Before you land, start to pre soften. If you jumped off the back of a ute and onto the ground, would you wait till after you landed to bend your knees? No. Good answer, the same is applied here. Be ready to land.
- As much as you will want to lean back here, don’t. Stay on your feet as flat as you can. Leaning back will only serve to drive your heels deep into the water. Absorb the landing upright by bending your knees and squatting down to the position you were in before you took off.
- Keep your eyes on the horizon and the handle where it is. No amount of pulling on it will help you here.
The Back Hop
Similar to the first with more of a backwards element to its direction, the back hop is both harder to do, and for the barefoot tournament competitors out there, harder to get paid for. A lesson I learnt at 1996 nationals when my back hop was knocked because I didn’t clear the water enough when I jumped. Twice.
- As much as it makes sense to lean away here, its best avoided. Instead stay upright and even slightly taller than normal. Get flat enough on your feet that you eliminate the spray.
- Bend your knees more than would seem necessary. One of the problems with the back hop is that springing from your ankles will make all sorts of trouble, 99% of the jump comes from your knees, 1% from your ankles.
- Its ok to let your legs split just make sure you have gained height first. It also helps to keep your eyes and head up
- Let your feet split even more when you land to help absorb some of the landing. crush with your knees and relax your ankles as much as you possibly can in order for your feet to stay flat.
- be strong in the upper body and don’t let the boat pull you around, a good strong ab flex should do the trick.
Well there you go, have fun with these two. They are fun, impressive and you can throw them in your run for some quick points. Just remember to start small. For your first attempt try to jump a lego block, then work your way up to a matchbox car and eventually a tonka truck (maybe I have spent too much time with my niece and nephew) because if you go too hard too early you will end up no different if you go too hard too early on the first type of hops, a big mess with a headache. So be patient and be sure to enjoy your hops, No doubt you’ve earned them.