How To Hula Hoop

Grace Jones Hula Hooping
Grace Jones
Here’s an easy two-step lesson on how to hula hoop.

1. Make sure you have the right size hula hoop!

If you’re using a kid-sized hoop and you’re not a kid, forget it! Most hula hoops that you can buy at stores like Target or Toys R Us are kid-sized. Unless you’re the size a child, a child-sized hoop is not going to work for you — especially not if you’re a beginner! You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache (and gain a lot of fun) if you make or buy a hoop that’s the right size for you.

What’s the right size? Try this: Stand with your hoop in front of you. The general rule of thumb is that a hoop should stand somewhere between your navel and nipple height, although some compensation should be made for your waist size, too. General rule of thumb: The bigger you are, the bigger the hoop should be. Larger hoops will rotate slower, making getting started easier. Smaller than that will make the hoop rotate faster, which is more challenging, although smaller hoops may be useful for certain tricks.

2. Put one foot in front of the other, and shift your weight

Hold the hoop against your back. You can start it a little above your waist. Then, push the hoop around your waist, and shift your weight back and forth on your feet to keep the hoop moving.

Easier said than done? Having trouble “keeping it up”? Here are some more tips:

Many people try to move their hips in a circle with the hoop. This actually makes hooping much harder. Try this: put one foot in front of the other and just shift your weight back and forth from foot to foot. It’s less of a circular hip motion and more of just a rocking or pumping motion.

In terms of which direction to hoop in, try ’em both! You’ll know right away which one is right for you. I’ve found that right handed people generally hoop counter-clockwise, while lefties generally go clockwise, but many people are exceptions to this rule.

Also, don’t lean and try to watch your hoop. It throws off your center of gravity. Bend your knees just a little and stand up straight. Move your focus and attention from your head down into your hips and go for it.

Most of all: be patient! It can take a while to get the hang of it — don’t give up! If you get frustrated trying to get the hoop going around your waist, try hooping with your hands! And again, if you find you’re really having trouble – it might not be you, it might be your hoop!

38 thoughts on “How To Hula Hoop

  1. my 5 yr old sis hoops with my hoop that goes up to her chin and i dont know where i can find a hoop that is nipple hight for me when that one comes up about 2 in above my belly button.

  2. Yes, the size of your waist also comes into play. Paisley offers a good example of this…she’s a big beautiful woman, and her hoops are up to 6′ in diameter! It’s worth experimenting with size to find the hoop that’s right for you…

  3. we are having a charitable fundraiser and we decided to have a hula hoop contest…but now i’m worried this could go all night! is there a way to make it tougher to go for hours? such as putting on a t-shirt while hooping, or removing the little weight inside? please let me know if possible

  4. I see here that everyone uses the skinny hoops. I purchased the large hoop with the bumps all around the inside, several years ago at Curves when I worked out there. Is this not a good Hoop to use, and should I replace it with the skinnier models? I’m new here, but have been hooping for years.

    1. Hoopers and hoops of all types and sizes are welcome here. Different hoops have different advantages. Yours is great for fitness and weight loss, but most of those heavy hoops come with warnings not to just them for more than ten minutes a day. Adult-sized dance hoops are lighter than that, but larger and heavier than anything you’d find in a toy store. You can do a whole lot more with them, learn to dance inside them, learn some moves and tricks, all of which is also great exercise – and if you’re having fun you’re more likely to hoop a whole lot longer. Some prefer smaller lightweight hoops for off body spinning believing they’re easier on their hands. So different hoops are good for different things.

    1. If you find that the hoop isn’t level when you’re hooping it is usually because you’re exerting an unequal amount of force in both directions. In fact in order to hoop at an angle you put greater emphasis on hooping up with your stomach or pushing up with your booty when the hoop makes contact. My guess without actually seeing it is that you have more push going one way than the other – and possibly some upward momentum while you’re doing it.

  5. Probably a stupid question… but seriously how long should it take a person to learn how to keep a hoop up?? I’ve watched videos, I’ve read tutorials and I just can’t seem to manage to keep the hoop up and it’s really discouraging, this is something I really want to do.

    1. If you’ve watched videos, read tutorials and you’re still not getting it, my guess is that the hoop is the problem – rather than the hooper. Your adult sized hoop (as described in our how to make your own hoop link) should be hitting you somewhere between your navel and your solar plexus. If you’re on the thinner side closer to your navel should work, if you’re on the thicker side go for closer to your solar plexus. I know it’s counter intuitive that the larger the hoop is, the easier it is to use, but it’s absolutely true. Most people I’ve run into that haven’t been able to get it, have been able to with a hoop that is the right size for them.

      1. I’m definitely on the bigger side, which is why I want to hoop so bad. Great exercise plus lots of fun. I used to be a dancer when I was younger so hoop dancing is right up my alley.
        Right now my hoop hits about my navel, so I’ll take your suggestion to heart and get a hoop that hits my solar plexus.
        Thank you for your advice!

    2. I have to say, I taught myself to keep a hoop just yesterday! I am almost 40, and NEVER hooped before then. I spent the entire day on the beach, with my hoop and my dertermination! All you can do is pick it back up and go again……One tip: If you are trying to hoop in one direction and it keeps falling, try to spin the hoop in the oposite direction. Itf it feels better, then that may be what you are missing. I am a clockwise hooper I discovered, and I spent the latter part of my day stalling the hoop and swinging it back around counter-clockwise. It took a while, but I finally got comfortable going both ways with it! Above all else HAVE FUN!!! Hope this helps, from a rookie lol….Happy Hooping! πŸ™‚

    1. You can buy friction tape at any hardware store. If they don’t know what you’re talking about just tell them its the tape hockey players use for their sticks! I would assume you’d be able to find it at a sports store as well, i get mine from home depot!

  6. Hi, I just found your site and wanted to ask a question. I am having a nightmare with the hoop, granted I only got it yesterday but I cannot keep it going for more then a couple of seconds. I’ve watched video after video and tried different techniques but it’s still not happening! I have a 40″ hoop 625g weight and am 5ft 8″ Do I need a heavier hoop? Thanks

    1. I am 5’5″ and 120 lbs and my hoop is 42″… I would say yours is a little on the small side. I go by my height not my weight. Your hoop should go to your belly button or 1-2″ higher. As for the weight.. I have both weighted and unweighted hoops.. The weighted one will bruise you pretty bad while you are learning! If your hoop is too small then it will be ridiculously hard to keep it up. I can keep a kids hoop up but it is extremely difficult since I have to move my body faster.

    1. Take a tape measure and measure how tall it is from the ground up to somewhere between your navel and your solar plexus. If you’re very thin you can go closer to your navel. If you’re a little thicker go a little larger. The bigger the hoop is, the easier it will be to spin. And no, do not get a weighted hoop if you want to dance with it. Just get an adult-sized dance hoop.

  7. Does the weight help/hinder a beginner? I want to start and bought a hoop that now seems is way too small, but would a heavier one be easier for beginners as it would help with momentum?

    1. Kelly, generally the heavier and larger the hoop is the easier it is to start on. This is because the larger diameter leaves you with much more time and space in between rotations to actually move around and do tricks.

      TOO heavy is not good for anything except working out tho! But you don’t have to worry about that unless you have a weighted hoop.

      A good size to start with is a hoop that goes to about your belly button level or higher..


  8. Me and my friends have recently started hooping with children’s plastic hoops! I brought a large one and it is far more easy to hoop with the large one than a small one! When we master it! We shall create our own! It’s so much fun! Makes md feel young again! Haha! I try to hoop listening to a full album! I then know I have exercised properly and for a good length of time! If it drops pick it up and keep chipping away! Practice is the key! Happy hooping everyone! πŸ™‚

  9. I’m having a hard time doing tricks with my hoop like spinning it off the body, or grabbing it while i’m hooping and taking it above my head (i keep getting hit in the face!)….i can at the moment take it from my knees up to my chest with no arms, i can take it from my waits to my neck with my arms inside, i can almost hoop it around my shoulder but i’m still at the point where i need my arm straight up otherwise it flies across the room….I’m thinking my hoop may be too big? its made of 1″ irrigation tubing and it goes up about an inch above my belly button….maybe i just need more practice!!!

  10. I got a 40″ hoop from a friend who no longer needed it. I saw an earlier comment about judging the size of your hoop by your weight, and I am a big girl, and I can’t seem to get the hang of waist hooping… would getting a bigger hoop really help? or should I just stick it out?

  11. Ok….feeling excited to begin….I’m 5’3″ and on the “need to lose” list at 164# right now. Planning to construct my beginner hoop tomorrow with 3/4″ irrigation tubing 160 psi. ….1″ tubing and from what I’m reading 42″ diameter should be good size for me…..any suggestions or comments to help me out as a beginner here? Am I on the right track plan wise to execute tomorrow in my attempts to create my beginner hoop??? As for the taping…..I’ve read electrical tape is ok or hockey stick tape…..suggestions please! (0: …..can’t wait to get my hoopin’ life going!!!

  12. I am becoming very excited after visiting this website. I attempted to make my first hoop last summer…and failed horribly! My dad went with me to home depot, and I accidentally chose a 45 psi type of tubing, which was way too flismy and did not hold itself up. I got discouraged, but after going on this website, I am going to try this again. And I will make sure to get 160 psi tubing next time. I’m 15 now, and overweight, so I think hooping will really benefit me, and it will be fun to do after a stressful day at school. Wish me luck, and happy hooping! πŸ™‚

  13. I have the hoop with the magnetic nodules on the inside. Had it for less than a week but I am getting a work out trying to keep it off the floor. I too have watched the videos and tutorials and it is truly frustrating. It still ends up on the floor.It does reach my waist. Trying not to give up but it is so hard.

  14. I’ve just finished wrapping ( decorative color shifting tape) my 4th hoop, (the 2nd one I’ve made) and it’s the largest one yet, coming up to just under my bra line. I’m 5’5″, and at 55 I have to say this is the most fun I’ve ever had while losing weight! I’m now down 35 pounds fromwhen I started in July. So far the two home made hoops are the easy ones to keep going, and I added about 1 cup of water as ballast to both of them before sealing them up. Made it much easier to learn to keep it going. I have one of the bigger ,30″ store bought hoops for kids that I am just getting the hand of keeping spinning,mbut it’s hard. I also just got my first professional dance hoop and hope to learn some off body moves, thought that will have to wait till spring when I can practice outside..I expect the hoop to go flying more than once during this stage, lol.

    You tube has been great for lessons and I am working on keeping the hoop going when on my legs( I can travel between waist, and butt, and turn and walk in both directions, but every time it gets below the butt I lose it.
    Any thoughts on this?

    1. You can try bending your knees really quick and catching it and bringing it back up. Just a quick dip dropping below it a little when you feel it starting to go. Other than that you’re going to have to learn leg hooping next. πŸ™‚

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