Diff- Sweep vs layback roll

-- Last Updated: May-27-09 3:35 PM EST --

Assuming a normal and not extended paddle for both, what are the basic differences between the sweep roll versus layback roll?

In web videos I've watched of both, all of these steps look the same to me: once capsized, getting your head near the water surface, sweeping the paddle, coming up close to the rear deck with the head last as the boat rotates. (There is no emphasis of a hip snap for both).

What are the different aspects of these 2 rolls then?

"we don’t need no stinkin hip snap"
Seriously though, my take on those two rolls is that they’re more fluid in nature. “Hip roll” might be a more apt description.

FWIW, my most reliable roll is a hopeless combination of the two (sweepback roll?).

at the end of a “layback” roll
you finishing laying back. It is usually a type of sweep roll. With the ‘sweep’ roll you finish in a more upright position - unless you are using the ‘layback’ variation.

Eric Jackson is a big fan of the ‘layback’ variation of a c-to-c roll. However, this is not commonly referred to as a ‘layback’ roll.

Some people feel the ‘layback’ sweep roll is easier than a ‘non-layback’ sweep roll. The roll that is the ‘easiest’ is the one you use most often - whether sweep, layback, c-to-c, or a forward finishing variation.

Hip snap
For me both the layback and sweep require very little hip snap. It’s all one fluid motion and I’m up. I also agree that my most consistent roll is a combination of the two.

In white water I do more of a tucked c to c roll with my head forward to protect against the rocks. Much more hip snap in a true c to c. I have a harder time determining the differnece between c to c and the sweep.

The best roll is one you can do consistently and I don’t get caught up in symantics over the names.

check out these videos

C to C roll vs sweep
In a sweep roll the hip snap is slower and commences almost as soon as you begin the paddle sweep. Your lower body makes a sort of corkscrew motion as you sweep the paddle out so that the boat is nearly upright by the time the paddle is out to 90 degrees.

In the C to C roll, the paddle is swept out to 90 degrees before the hip snap is initiated. The snap is therefore more abrupt, and the boat remains fully upside down throughout the paddle sweep.

Most people end the sweep roll looking back over their shoulder a bit at the paddle blade. In the C to C roll you finish facing directly forward, although some will finish either leaning forward or backward to keep body weight closer to the rotational axis of the boat.

I find the sweep roll a bit harder to coordinate because everything is happening at once. You have to roll the wrist on your “sweep hand” back to maintain a climbing angle on the blade while simultaneously sweeping your upper body out in a lateral direction and and rotating your lower body in a very different direction along the long axis of the boat.

terms are used to talk about the method of the roll

any roll that ends on the back deck is a lay back roll

if it ends on the front deck it’s a forward recovery roll

any roll incorperating a sweep is a sweep roll

the pure C 2 C does not use a sweep, the paddle is out of the water until at the 90 degree spot…then the second thrust “C” down is made and there is a hip push/snap motion.

in the sweep c2c…the paddle remains in contact (sweeping) with the water from the bow out to the 90 degree mark…then the thrust down is made

so a layback roll could be a sweep roll , but could also be a roll like a butterfly roll which is usually done ending on the back deck…otherwise it could be a forward/ forward butterfly…but a butterfly roll is not a sweep roll.

a forward finishing sweep roll is still a sweep roll as in the “reverse Sweep” roll

hope I didn’t confuse too many out there

Best Wishes


This is consistent with the videos above
A c-to-c roll consists of body movements from setup position (leaning forward at about 45 degrees) to first C (leaning up toward the surface, folded around the hull, paddle out to 90 degrees) to second c (folded around the hull on the opposite side). Going from first c to second c involves rotating the boat with your hips with the support of a flat paddle. A sweep roll also starts in the setup position. This is followed by torso rotation with simultaneous rotation of the boat with the hips and support from a moving paddle. In both cases the boat is rotated by the hips (not the “rolling knee” as erroneously described by a well known video). Both rolls can be converted to layback rolls. A c-to-layback roll is what Eric Jackson teaches. A sweep to layback roll is essentially the basic Greenland roll without the extended paddle.

one small mod

– Last Updated: May-27-09 8:22 PM EST –

totally agree with previous post, with one exception, that the sweep roll does not require a climbing angle blade, and in fact if the angle begins to climb the rotation of the boat tends to stall and the paddle then begins to be pulled downward. pblanc is right on though about it all happening sequentially, and the need to rotate the opposite wrist and forearm backwards towards the shoulder does function to dump off resistance from a climbing blade allowing full rotation of the torso which helps pull on the hip and rotate the boat.

Although many WW folks have debunked the worries about coming up in a layback position, regardless, all rolling styles have several things in common,

one, the boat rotates the most when the body is at right angels to the boat

one keeps the body and head in the water as long as possible in order to finish the rotation of the boat

the emphasis is on boat rotation not arms pulling the kayaker upward with the paddle

the extended layback sweep roll is just a variant that emphasizes the leverage of the paddle more and the rotation of the boat somewhat less (it is hard to rotate the boat if you wait till you are laying back already)

these are really clear
yep, these are nice and clear, thanks for posting!

zzzzzzzzzzzz what Roy said.
If you keep sweeping guess what??? Don’t over anal-ize this stuff.

Just answering the OP’s question
Enjoy your nap. :slight_smile:

Screw roll

– Last Updated: May-28-09 12:02 PM EST –

I think you're right on the money. The Original poster I believe is confusing two of the same thing. Any roll cold be a lay back if you lay back. Originally the "sweep roll" was the screw roll with the intention being that you started to bring the kayak upright as you swept the paddle - kind of in a screw motion.

The lay back is probably the easiest roll for a newbee to achieve because it really doesn't need a hip snap. The entire concept of a sweep is for practice into from a set-up. Many times experienced paddlers who are playing in rough water get knocked in and high brace themselves back up with no set up or sweep. That's where having a nice hip snap on both sides really pays off. I only have a good one on my right side.

dumb question:

– Last Updated: May-28-09 10:04 AM EST –

anyone ever blow a roll because they didn't know what they would call it?

Not being snarky or directing this at anyone, just sort of thinking about what many of us are saying.

Personally I find the sweep roll almost instinctual and easily committed to muscle memory. I can see how this developed from someone's instinctual effort to right their boat, centuries ago.

I find the C to C
to be more effective. I have a very good one on both sides even after being maytaged in the surf. However, on the high brace once I get past a certain angle there is a lot of momentum to counter. I’m still working on it. Also asked a 4* IT instructor how far over would they recover from a high brace and they said once it gets to a certain point it’s easier to use a roll back up.

I know some people have a very good high brace but at the same time I’m not not going to risk injury to keep from capsizing.

has allot to do with body type and boat

– Last Updated: May-28-09 11:39 AM EST –

Looking at it from an instructor's perspective you realize that people come in very different body types and boat combinations. All rolls have several things in common like staying in the water as long as possible, knowing where your torso should be to rotate the boat and holding yourself in a HOME position each time so get consistency.

But tall thin muscular paddlers have the most ease with the C to C. The shorter, heavier and less athletic with a wider boat or one with a deeper harder chine will have a great deal of trouble not having a very vertical paddle to start the C to C with.

Although Jay's First Roll, i.e., the extended paddle sweep layback roll is a boon to many body types, those who have back problems or who are not in a boat that permits laybacks will have some difficulty with it.

The Roll shown on THE KAYAK ROLL dvd is a variation on several styles. What makes it work for many body types is that is has a slower rotation of the boat, so it takes less muscle, it utilizes the torso muscles to rotate the boat, so less muscular folks can get it to work, and it does not require much arm and shoulder strength, i.e., the paddle slices over the water with no resistance.

Basically, as an instructor I try to find the best hybridization of these styles that suites the person's body type, boat, athleticism, and go from there.

Sometimes what works on the person's on side won't work on the offside roll. I am ambidextrous but have some dyslexia which makes a roll on my offside feel very confusing. This year I have had to change my offside roll as I lost my old style there! Rolling is just counter intuitive enough and requiring a sequence of moves as to make even good athletes sometimes review their technique and strengthen it.

nice post
especially about body types and boats.

However I do find my hard chine easier to roll…

ask yourself what an ‘offside’ is…
and how you came to determine it was an ‘offside’.

High bracing back up

– Last Updated: May-28-09 12:28 PM EST –

I noticed when watching "This is the Sea" - I think it was version 2 and they were playing in a very fast and rough river under a bridge and quite a few paddlers got thrown in. Not one of them went under the boat. I was impressed. They all popped back up with a high brace. I have also seen that with a lot with experienced creek paddlers. It certainly beats hanging around upside down when there's rocks. I can do it on one side only but you're right, you can probably do some nice shoulder damage too. It also takes some fast paddle responses.

i know but

– Last Updated: May-28-09 12:41 PM EST –

i believe in the power of thinking positively so for years resisted people thinking in terms of offside. and i still think there is merit in not thinking that way.

My current instructor thinking is that there is merit, however, in facing what is true before one can change it. Some honesty is required here! If what is true is that one is "thinking oneself into having problems" then OK, change that and don't think "offside".
But if what is true is "i really am less coordinated on that side, then face and deal with that rather than say it is all in my mind.

That said, physiologically we many people have more coordination on the dominant side. They learn on that side and those sequences become even more patterned. Then when they go to learn on the other side the first learnings can interfere with the other side and if that side is less coordinated learning proficiency is sometimes more difficult.

Added to this is our human tendency to practice what is easy and we are already successful with.

So as an instructor I have folks quickly learn both sides before one is super dominant and encourage equal practice.

For me this 29th year of kayaking, and humbly admitting I am older, less strong and my balance is less good due to a serious eye problem on that side along with sketchy practice habits I am now just practicing on that side alone. And, yes, ahhhhh, it is coming along nicely. But it takes determination and visualizing it being equally smooth as the other side.