The most common freestyle feature in the world is the hole. You can find them on natural rivers and on man made courses right across the world, and they vary hugely in size, power and nature. A nice friendly hole is probably the best venue for learning the majority of playboating moves.
Beforehand: Find the right hole. Talk to locals to find out which holes are friendly. Keep an eye on river levels as well, as even small changes can totally change the nature of a feature. Check that the hole is not too retentive before getting on, as getting stuck is really unpleasant!
1. Get comfortable in the hole. Fall over, roll and get used to the feeling. Learn to use the water to help you up, rather than fighting it.
2. Once you are comfortable, try moving around more. Surf on different sides, try spins and more. It’s all about getting a feel fir the water.
3. Once you want to leave, look for the weaker sections of the hole, where there is flow downsteam. This is often, but not always on the edges (shoulders) of the hole. You want to head towards these points with a bit of speed and strong edges, and be prepared to power your way through the towback. If you are tired, or just lazy and in a deep feature, falling over and waiting before rolling often does the trick.
If you are in doubt about how retentive a hole is, stay out. Getting body recirculated is never fun, and could be dangerous if you don’t have friends with you who are on it.