Help with rolling

I am so frustrated and bummed! I have been trying VERY unsuccessfully to learn to roll with my GP. I used to have a fairly (maybe 80%) reliable roll with my Onnopaddle (Euro), and now that has gone bye-bye too! I can’t roll anymore! I have not hit a single roll this season! I am willing to travel and pay anyone within a reasonable distance of central NY to help me work this out. It’s like I can’t get my paddle on the surface. When I begin to sweep it IMMEDIATELY dives. And I mean straight down like I was trying to impale the bottom. Any suggestions or takers on the offer??? This is really important to me. I NEED to roll. I’m losing my passion for kayaking because I can’t roll. Desperate times indeed.

exaggerate the sweep
…and try turning your head and shoulders so that your eyes watch and follow the blade all the way to the stern, THEN pick your head up.

(worked for me)

You are very likely trying to use raw muscle to get up rather than good technique. The sweep can be a very easy roll (little force and weak hip snap) once you get the motions right.

Find a good instruuctor in your area and he’ll help you work it out. The stick in your hands is a very minor part of a good roll. Once you get the technique right, a round pole will work almost as well as a big euro blade.

Scull up first.
“It’s like I can’t get my paddle on the surface. When I begin to sweep it IMMEDIATELY dives. And I mean straight down like I was trying to impale the bottom. Any suggestions or takers on the offer???”

That sounds to me you started with the wrong blade angle. Did you cock your wrist forward at the start of the sweep? The blade need to be planing the surface to generate lift.

Instead of thinking of rolling, first try to scull the blade up to the surface and keep it there by sculling back and forth (while you’re still upside down). You should get a sense of what the wrist angle should be to keep the paddle from diving.

Also, do it with your torso not just your arms.

Try the Helen Wilson DVD
The Simplfy the Roll DVD does a good job of breaking down key elements of a Greenland roll. It has a trouble shooting section that covers the diving paddle as well. Best Greenland Rolling DVD out of my collection.It has helped me out alot.

What is
Central NY?

What do you consider reasonable driving distance?

Keep your eyes closed for starters,
When i tried the dive mask and was opening my eyes it killed it for me. I get the whole thing about getting discouraged because i was doing well until the mask. the ball on a string trick sounds like a great plan, and someone described the climbing angle of the sweep blade like an airplane wing…just that visualization helped me a lot. I think that i can over think things and then it’s just to much. The Helen Wilson DVD is awesome.Keep trying and let us know.

Learn a static brace and …

– Last Updated: Jul-12-11 12:44 PM EST –

... the transition to a layback on the rear deck from a position of static brace. If your kayak allows you to do that with relative ease, I think this is probably one of the best drills: it allows you to stop and "think" for a moment and naturally breaks down the roll in two distinct steps. You can use a paddle float to help you initially if you are sinking down and can't keep a stable static brace.

And don't forget the hip rotation/snap together with the sweep once you go back to practicing the sweep roll.

Also, and "extended" sweep, as mentioned, may be easier. Just remember that "extended" does not mean stretch your arms all the way to the side - that leads to a failed roll and a possible injury. Keep the elbows close and your head down in the water as late as possible. You can "extend" the paddle to one side, holding the loom with your outer hand and the end of the blade with your inner hand, but do not extend the arms out -;)

A couple things you can try

– Last Updated: Jul-12-11 7:21 PM EST –

I think a dive mask is a great aid in learning. Most of the diving paddle thing is for two reasons: one the angle is on a downward slant and two: the paddler is yanking on it in preparation to yank themselves up.

Try practicing in the sand a few feet deep and lower your self under water on your roll up side. Then sweep the paddle across the surface and finish the roll up. I assume you are using the GP extended?

The other thing is: if you set up and go over, forget the sweep. Just place the GP out perpendicular to the boat and then do a lay back stye roll up.

Without seeing what you're doing it's a bit of a guessing game here and nobody knows what style of roll you are attempting (lay back or hip snap type) or if you're even coming around fully or even if the paddle is making it around with your body. If you get someone to watch you, they can probably straighten out your problems in a half hour. Post here as well: Also tell people where you live:

Someone to Guide Your Paddle
Ask a friend or loved one to stand in the water and guide your paddle back during the sweep. A couple of those guided sweeps can help you get the feel of it. Once you get a good sweep, forget about a ‘hip snap’ and right the boat with your knee / thigh.

Tight hands?
Too tight a grip will dive a paddle every time, and is a normal result of frustration. Also, is the paddle not getting to the surface because you aren’t getting your body up there? That has to come up too.

Not saying this is it, but it’s where my roll tends to go south when we are having a bad day (or wee or month).


– Last Updated: Jul-12-11 3:26 PM EST –

Midway between Utica and Syracuse. If someone can help me get my roll back, I'd drive 3-4 hours in a heartbeat! Maybe more if the desperation level continues to climb!

I’ve always done a kind of C-to-C roll with the euro, but really relied on the down force of the paddle at 90 degrees to muscle up. Not good. I know that on occasion (by accident) I did a bit more of a sweep roll and it was amazing how effortless it was compared to the struggle with the muscle up C-to-C. But I could never stay with it, or even figure out what I did accidentally to get there. A good instructor in a one on one scenario would probably get me squared away in a morning of work. The trick is finding one in these parts. GP’s are not very common around here. I’ve only seen 2 on the water in the past 3 years. And I paddle about 75 times a season for around 800 miles aseason average.

You are in the middle of nowhere :slight_smile:

There are, probably, some folks in the area, hopefully someone will chime in.

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions. To comment on a couple of the posts…

Yes, I do try to muscle the roll. Got away with it forever with an oversized Euro, even though I knew my technique sucked. But I was able to get her up so I was happy. Short term gratification coming back to bite me in the ass now!

I’m pretty sure I’m cocking my wrist. That was never a problem before. But it is something I will try to pay attention to.

I will try the ball trick. I think I am getting my back hand quite away from my body.

Any body know of any outfitters, dealers, etc that are well versed in GP and instruction, please post.

mental game
First things first, obviously you CAN roll, because you’ve done it before.

There are a myriad of physical manifestations that might be contributing to the failure of your roll, but it sounds as if the fundamental cause is mental. I see this a lot when teaching rolling – people don’t believe that they can/will roll up, tense up, and then try to pry themselves up out of the water with the paddle alone. In the case of a sweep roll, this usually results in a diving blade.

If you can find a good instructor, great, but either with or without an instructor, my advice would be to revisit the fundamentals. First of all, you have to get some positive mental mojo working. Relax! You’ve rolled before, and you will roll again. Practice hip flicks without a paddle with the goal of reinforcing the use of your hips/lower body muscles to right the boat. I like to have my rolling students start with hip-flicks while laying their head on the bow of a partner’s boat with the goal of never letting their head leave the bow. Most people of normal flexibility can get their boat almost entirely upright without ever moving their head. Get this feeling locked into your muscle memory, then add the paddle back into the equation.

Finally, do realize that the “I used to be able to roll and now I can’t” saga is a very common occurence with paddlers (happened to me after my first year of paddling), so you’ve got plenty of company. Even very experienced paddlers go through episodes of rolling self-doubt sometimes – one of my playboating buddies is currently dealing with it.

keep us posted
We wanna hear the “woohoo!” WHEN you get it back.

Let the paddle float itself

– Last Updated: Jul-12-11 4:37 PM EST –

When you capsize, PAUSE and lighten up your grip as if you're letting the paddle shaft float slightly above your hands instead of holding onto it. The blades will want to flatten out if you merely let them.

And if by chance they flatten out the "wrong" way (power face up), you can still roll that way just fine.

The idea is to have your body movement do almost all of the work, not muscling the paddle blades.

I agree that practicing balance brace will help, because it emphasizes body position.

If your not getting
the paddle on top of the water you are not staying in a tuck postion (straighting your torso which puts you futher under the water and hence you can`t get your hands above the water. You might want to try going over let the boat settle release the paddle and then regrip at the surface. You do not need a climbing angle on a GP to roll.

It’s possible to have both hands sky high out of the water and still have the end of the blade in the water. If your non-sweep arm is pushed very high skyward then it can reach higher than your sweep arm so the angle of the blade is starting diving. This is why I find it key to ALSO keep the non-sweep arm (mainly upper arm) glued to your body. For many this is an automatic given which is why they don’t always mention it to folks struggling, but I’ve found it to be the number one most common cause of a diving paddle followed second by blade angle (doesn’t apply much to GP).

All the other advice like sculling, etc. also fail if the non-sweeping arm is pushed away from the body.