Greenland Roll Help: Forward Sweep

Okay, I need some help. I’ve been trying to learn the forward sweep roll for a few weeks now. I have watched a number of videos of people doing it, but I still cannot do it reliably. It looks so easy when someone else does it (like watching Tiger play golf) :wink:

I have pulled it off a couple times, but most of the time I either need to finish with one or two quick sculls, or worst case I’m still pretty much upside-down. Even when I succeed it does not feel effortless like a standard Greenland roll (far from it), which leads me to believe I may be doing it wrong.

Any tips from the experts?

a couple tips…
Your primary focus when attempting this roll (and any other forward finishing roll) is to bring the kayak as upright as possible with your hips prior to engaging any particular hip snap or pressure on the paddle. Also you need to commit to having your chest face straight down into the water as long as possible. This frees up your hips to rotate the kayak under you. If you are trying to finish upright and facing forward, you will feel like you’ve hit a brick wall.

So the steps are:

  1. Setup at the stern of the kayak with your chest down in the water with the back of your top hand near your forehead and the bottom hand extend out near the belly

  2. Arch your back and look skyward while maintaining hand position in order to have the paddle poke out of the water at an angle

  3. Start twisting your hips to slightly put the kayak on edge

  4. Sweep forward while rolling your hips emphasizing keeping your chest in the water

  5. Finish by continuing to roll the hips while levering the paddle off the deck and only at the very end do you allow your body to crawl out of the water onto the foredeck

    This is a great roll and super powerful. You want to make sure that you are not putting too much pressure on the paddle or you can very easily snap your paddle or injure yourself. Have fun!

Live instruction

– Last Updated: Aug-12-08 12:51 PM EST –

I see that your profile lists you as a beginner, so I am guessing that you are talking about the standard sweep roll, which is often the first roll to learn? Sorry if I am wrong and you are working on a different roll with which I am not familiar.

Personal instruction is the best, but I know people who have taught themselves. A great dvd is The Kayak Roll -

I learned from two of the instructors on that dvd, and Phil and Mary DeRiemer have some tips on the sweep roll on their website.

The nice thing about the dvd is that it has a troubleshooting section. My early problems were pretty typical. I didn't realize how little effort was involved, and "overdid" it. When you do it right, it feels like the boat is rolling you rather than vice versa.

Keys for me were striving for full extension to the side and making sure to finish the motion rather than trying to get up as soon as I felt I could.

I think I will always be a beginner :wink:

The forward sweep roll is different from the standard sweep roll, in that it starts with the paddle pointed towards the stern, and you sweep it forward to come up.

Here’s footage of our very own kheyashunka (third and fourth rolls):

Schizopak had some great tips (thanks!) which I plan to try this weekend.

Cheers -

Good advice above
Although it’s difficult to put the movement into words, Alex did a good job. I’ll just add, that even though you want to keep your body on the water until you slide onto the front deck, the thing that helped me most is that I actually start driving that knee early on to bring the kayak up so that it’s righted when I get there. Thinking of folding up from the side into pike position helps some. Also,I had a lot of trouble with pain/injury in my bicep tendons because I was extending my hands too far forward of the cockpit as I finished. To prevent this, and to make the roll effortless (and painless) keep hour hands near your torso as you slide onto the front deck. This is my favorite roll, it just feels good : )


I have watched that video so many times
and every time I feel the same awe. So beautiful,smooth, and graceful. I intend to dedicate what ever it takes to get myself as close to this ability as I can. What a great way to spend some time on the water!

Why is it called forward sweep?
In turning strokes a forward sweep starts at the bow and moves toward the stern. A turning stroke that starts at the stern and moves toward the bow is a reverse sweep.

Key to

– Last Updated: Aug-13-08 12:17 PM EST –

the forward finishing rolls is the chest skull

Don't practice the roll untill you can glide out onto the water, from kissing the bow....chest skull...then glide back onto the front deck, kissing the deck.

this is the finish of a reverse sweep.....once You can do the finish, You'll be able to do the roll.

remember to arch Your back and chest skull with Your body on the surface, only face to the center of the earth.

spread Yourself out on the water....hold the boat with Your legs and arch the back....start the boat moving to an upright position as the scull of the paddle is at it's farthest rearward position....then just like you were going to skull one more time ...sweep forward...right the boat with your water leg and kiss the deck....follow the paddle with your head

Best Wishes