Backdeck roll -

what am I doing wrong? When I attempted this roll three or four times at the pool this week, it seemed like it required a HUGE amount of physical strength to even get any movement. It just simply doesn’t seem to want to work, in the method that I am using anyway

Any input would be great


some tips…
Plant the active blade (blade closer to the bow) parallel to the boat and immediately start flipping the boat. Sweep the blade out and around while hipsnapping the boat upright. The keys are to plant the blade early, lead the roll with your head, and aggressively hipsnap immediately. The difficulty most people (including myself) have with the backdeck roll is the hipsnap timing as they are used to a delay before rolling. The backdeck roll is an extremely quick and versatile roll for whitewater and I’ve even begun to use it with a Greenland paddle in my sea kayaks.

Back deck roll versus Greenland reverse

I’m not very familiar with what is commonly being taught in Euro circles as the “back deck” roll. How does this roll differ from the (low-brace) Greenland reverse roll?

In the case of the Greenland reverse roll the sweep does little more than just get the paddle into your front quadrant. A common error is trying to get the same lift and rotation during the sweep as you do with the Greenland standard roll (for the standard roll the lift from the paddle can be so strong that you don’t always need hipsnap). For the reverse roll the active blade is often entirely out of the water during the sweep. The recovery involves sweeping the paddle into your forward quadrant (about 45 degrees off your bow) and lowering the blade at the same time you hipsnap (think trying to touch your head to the recovery-side knee). The recovery is identical to what is done for a chest scull.

Greg Stamer

Essentially The Same, Except…

– Last Updated: Dec-01-05 2:17 PM EST –

Backdeck roll uses a standard grip whereas the reverse Greenland sweep uses an extended grip. That's why the inboard blade becomes an issue, especially when there is a high offset angle.

Ken Whiting's Description



– Last Updated: Dec-01-05 2:14 PM EST –

Hi Greg,

The playboating/whitewater backdeck roll is very different from the Greenland reverse sweep. This link gives a good description of it and the video titled 'the full back deck sweep roll' is a great example of this roll.

In this case, the sweep actually is rolling your kayak and you are already rolled up by the time your paddle gets to the forward quadrant. The hipsnap is timed simultaneously to the sweep and the result is a smooth, powerful, and extremely quick roll which is extremely practical. Although this is a Euro blade whitewater roll, I've been experimenting with this roll using the Greenland paddle (with combat position grip) with a sea kayak with good success. When I hit the roll properly, I roll up with very little resistance or effort and the kayak rolls almost as quickly as a hand roll.

Edited to add: Apparently I disagree with sing. I think the differences are the paddle position, the timing of the hipsnap relative to the sweep, and the fact that there is no "levering" motion in the finish.

Then I Would Have To Say
that I do a “reverse Greenland sweep” as I do a backdeck roll, except in an extended grip. Which is then to say, I don’t utilize a true Greenland reverse sweep. :slight_smile:


So, am I correct in assuming
that the backdeck roll or steyr roll, differs from the greenland reverse roll, only in that the backdeck roll is the normal paddle grip while the greenland reverse is extended grip?

Also, you noted that the hipflick is done earlier in the roll as compared to the ‘screw roll’ or standard roll? Maybe I feel such a large amount of physical effort because I am waiting for later in the roll, as you would with your normal standard sweep roll/screw roll?

I’ll have to give it a try…

Thanks for the info, I hope this gets me a little closer to nailing that roll.

I just started to make (or try to anyway) my first greenland paddle…I can’t wait to get it complete and try it out, again if it comes out okay lol.

How does the greenland reverse roll differ from the backdeck roll in relation to difficulty in executing?

Thanks again,


Back Deck And Greenland Reverse
are low brace rolls. Steyr is a reverse high brace roll.

That is the “old” Ken Whiting
and that is the wet head version. I posted the dry head version (the “new” Ken Whiting) in the thread below. :slight_smile:

hipsnap timing is key
If you delay the hipsnap during the backdeck roll, you are putting a tremendous amount of strain on your arms which would definitely account for the physical effort you’re feeling. It’s surprisingly difficult to train your body to immediately rotate a boat 360 degrees without pausing at some point. Defintely read through the links that sing and I posted as they are both great resources to learning this roll.

As for the Greenland reverse sweep roll versus the backdeck roll, I’d say that the Greenland reverse sweep is MUCH easier to learn and execute versus the backdeck roll. It does not require the explosive hipsnap nor the precise timing that the backdeck roll needs. Also because the paddle is extended and you lever the paddle in the water to finish for the Greenland reverse sweep, it is extremely powerful and forgiving. Anecdotaly, I learned the backdeck roll a year ago and it still is not where I want it to be and my offside form is terrible. For the reverse sweep, I learned it in a single day and I was comfortable on both sides after only a few practice sessions.

same here!
My whitewater muscles kick in when I do this roll and I have to consciously slow things down and initiate the hipsnap finish later when I want to do a textbook Greenland reverse sweep.

which I sort of refer to in talking about the airscrew. A full 360 in the air rotation of the boat utilizing what is essentialy back deck roll while moving down a wave. Some folks bounce their way into it and others load up one edge and quickly tranfer to the other edge and over.


Help to stay close to the deck?
I have no idea if what I am doing is the roll anyone is talking about, but it is working for my offside with very little effort until I get that side as strong as my right. Instead of getting my body out from the boat or to a point where I have to do a big hip snap, I just stay as close as possible to the back deck from start to end and, sweep out with an extended paddle while gradually lifting the knee that I’d normally be starting the hip snap with in a C to C.

If I just relax, keep my back real close to that back deck and start sliding up over the back deck as soon as it feels possible, somewhere about halfway thru the boat kinda drags me up laying back. Takes very little paddle support and no big strength move anywhere else, at least in the placid water in which I’ve tried it.

(This is pretty close to getting up from a balance brace as well, just starts from being more over and uses more over paddle support.)

I don’t know what modification this would require for more turbulent conditions, or what will happen as I start shortening the paddle (experiment for pool sessions), but in general it seems that staying close to the back deck (hence nearer the surface) takes a lot of the strength requirements out of it. Granted I also have lower volume boats with nice low back decks and good flexibility to be able to stretch back over them.

The only issue I found was with a tow belt - worn on the back it definately gets in the way of the back deck slide. OK if I switch it around to my front or the other side, on which I (usually) have a C to C.