1st Completed Roll

Today I completed my first roll. Woohoo!!

The intended roll was a sweep roll, but I am hesitant to say I completed a sweep roll due to my form. The subsequent rolls seemed to get smoother and easier with each try. I know there will be lots of learning to do, so I certainly don’t want to sound like I have everything figured out.

The water was approximately 3-4ft deep. There were a few times I found myself catching the sandy bottom with the tip of my paddle in the hip snap portion. One thing I’m wondering is how deep should the blade be going while executing the sweep roll?


The blade should travel the surface for a standard rear deck recovery sweep roll…otherwise it has become a green water slash roll

Thanks! When the blade is traveling the surface, is it parallel or slightly tilted?

You use it {the blade } for support… so slightly tilted …but not much…flat only gives you support if you pull gown…don’t pull down . If you do you will have the blade too deep for the finish and it will pull you back in…unless you let go of it…And then what?

Nothing, because you have no support?

think about how you would carry pizzas, with your wrists cocked, so that during the sweep roll you are cocking your wrists as you sweep, finishing with pizza hands, with wrists cocked back, palms some what up, trailing hand somewhere in the vicinity of your chest or chin (too avoid punching out).

Highly recommend getting some goggles and seeing if paddle blade is staying close to the surface

“Highly recommend getting some goggles and seeing if paddle blade is staying close to the surface”

I would highly recommend that if you do this you only do it a few times and then put the goggles away. The reason I say this is that I know a guy who became goggle-dependent. Never got comfortable rolling without goggles. Not good in my humble opinion. After getting it visually, go totally by feel afterward.

While I’m here, there may be times when thinking “hip snap” may be less than productive. I’ve found that ‘thigh lift’ or ‘knee lift’ gets my boat upright.

If doing a quick WW roll like a slash roll…then a hip snap is used and all the bracing force is applied at once. And the paddle is retrieved by sliding it out so it doesn’t deter the roll.

If doing a more relaxing and non caloric burning Greenland style roll then the bracing is done in an even and smooth method. and the paddle utilizes the surface. The sweep is not just from bow to stern but also the paddle can be slid outward , in line with the shoulders and then retrieved in line with the shoulders to add more bracing so that if all that isn’t enough a slight downward brace can also help at the end…but not so much as to have the paddle get deep.

In the Greenland style roll {can also be done with an Euro or wing} There is no hip snap, just a slow body curl like rolling over in a mummy sleeping bag. Slow and easy and continuous.

Tdaniels- Thanks for the tip on the wrists. After you mentioning that, I’m pretty sure my wrists were locked yesterday. I did wear goggles yesterday and after a couple of times I started closing my eyes trying to focus on the mechanics of my movements.

Rex- I plan on loosing the goggles today. I remember reading someone saying to drive your leg into the thigh brace. Sometimes I felt a little loose after being upright and I’m assuming it may be due to not having enough engagement.

I am using a euro style blade, and from your description I was doing more of a ww style roll. I appreciate the detail you provided.

I was leaning forward and to the left side before going upside down. After inverting I made sure my paddle was on the surface of the water. I then began to move my torso aft as I began the sweeping motion. I was trying to hold my left hand somewhat close to my torso about chest level. While sweeping I began to unwind my torso, which is I think is where the paddle diving was coming from. Is this an accurate assessment?

If using an Euro blade and not doing it Pauletta style, then reach around kayak and think …scrape the bottom of the kayak with the off blade. It will keep your blade in the right position.

Pauletta is where you hold the end of the paddle {hand on blade end} to extend and also to not bang the kayak with the off blade and then can do the roll Greenland style

I will give this a try and see what I can do.

Roll practice report:

Rolled several times yesterday, the first try on all but one. The one time after not completing first try, I just reset and then rolled right up. All times were without goggles. Using the mentality of scraping the bottom seemed to help yesterday while practicing. I was practicing in about the same depth of water and my paddle wasn’t diving as deep. I also had a person watching that was present both days and they mentioned my rolls were looking smoother. I still have to work to do with my wrists though.

Thanks for all the input!


You need to feel support of water under the blade. That feeling will be more so if you get the blade up to the surface. You can feel the water lock in under that blade once you get comfortable.

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The roll usually associated with the focus on scraping the kayak bottom with the off blade is called a screw roll. It can be done explosive or also slowed down to conserve energy. {Leisurely when you get it down} It is a good go to for WW. It can also be executed as either a lay back or coming up in a sitting upright position. {can be done with either Euro or Greenland paddle without extending the paddle and without a diving blade}

It is a good general roll to know.

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I had another opportunity to do a little roll practice today. It started off not to a good start. On my first attempt, my support crew rolled me up a little early after my second attempt. This time was with a deck bag, so I ditched the deck and tightened up my seat and seat back. This made a huge difference! I felt like I had quiet a bit more control over my kayak (Necky Manitou 14). Previously I was a little reluctant to pull my seat too prevent being trapped and preventing a wet exit. So I took a short swimming break and got my gear back on to practice a few more times. I was thinking before I started about what Celia said, so after I was upside down I slightly tilted my blade towards the sky and began the roll. Next thing I know water is draining off of my head. I felt like my blade stayed on the surface and asked, but my help wasn’t paying attention to my blade. So I set up one more time with the point of watching the blade and got confirmation that my blade stayed on the surface the whole time. Now with a little added spunk I done it several more times with the same result. I also added my deck bag back and adjusted my spray skirt. Still rolled up I think 2 or 3 times, but it was time to call it a day so I stopped there. The last time I rolled I almost over rotated into the water again. Certainly built some confidence today.


Glad that helped!

The screw roll is another option, but if you ever need to translate the roll to any moving water (WW or a tidal flow) it is not optional to feel when there is water support under the blade. On at least one side, you need to actually wait for a bit until your speed in the boat and the current equalize so that you have that support.

Congratulations! In fact given how much I need to recover going into this coming season, you are doing better than me. By a lot.

Thank you! I don’t know about the being ahead of you though, you have stored muscle memory. I recently acquired a ww kayak, which has give me more motivation to learn rolling (I’ve always limited myself to class 2). I agree being in a rapid is not the time to figure out there’s issues with my roll.

Congratulations on your first “pool roll”! ( a practiced roll in a calm environment), that’s a huge milestone. Some tips:

Your first “combat roll” will be your next big rolling milestone, when you roll after an unexpected capsize in conditions. It’s not unusual for people to panic or bail out without even trying to roll at first (even when you have a good “pool roll”), but stick with it, and you will be on your way.

Regarding the paddle going deep: while you probably know not to lift your head ABOVE WATER, you may not realize that your head should never be more than a few inches underwater for a layback / sweep roll. That happens because you tuck down toward the deck on the setup on the surface, and you actively raise your torso / head toward the surface once you capsize. This posture helps to keep the paddle near the surface too. The blade can travel on the surface or a few inches under it.

The “worst” posture is very common, where a paddler allows their head, neck, and torso to hang deep in the water toward the bottom instead. Not only does this put your head and neck at serious risk of injury, but throws the mechanics of the sweep off. It’s good to check for this if you find that your paddle goes deep or you keep doing a “cajun mud roll” ( hit the bottom with your blade ).

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Be careful when practicing rolling in shallow water. If your paddle hits the bottom you risk a dislocated shoulder or other injury.