Huge guy rolling

Ok, I’m not the most experienced rolling teacher but I have been having some success. Today I was at a bit of a loss.

Had a very tall, solid guy in the pool. Size 15 feet so he paddles a Current Designs Solstice extra large model. Not the easiest boat to lay-back in. I tried him out on some side sculling but it was really hard to support him and get him back upright. He was having trouble arching his back enough (and I can’t blame him).

My thought was C to C or sweep to C. Use that powerful body to bring the tanker around. Well, we got as far as hip snapping off my hands, but no further. We were both beat.

So any suggestions? Does anyone have any experience with teaching the really big guys to roll? Any good ideas for getting him back upright without killing myself? I was standing behind him so I could grab the PFD and lift but I still needed a second person at the stern to help.

I would ask him if
he can scoot forward any at all, even an inch scooted forward will give a lot more layback room; this assuming he’s got the concept of setup/sweep/scull/brace/etc.

Tough body and boat sounds like…
I was at the pool today with a friend of mine. Sounds quite similar in boat and body to the guy you’re talking about. Worked at sweeping by following paddle blade with eyes. That wasn’t working too well–boat is high in back. Big, strong guy, so I thougth let’s try a sweep to C and use some of that explosive power. Timing was off. Gave up and messed around with some other stuff for awhile. He was ready to get out and I said try the sweep, watching the blade with extended paddle…came up everytime. It’s a start–something to build on. Something clicked and once you can get that muscle memory going and modify it to fit other rolls without extended paddle…

Good luck.

he floats right??
If he floats then it doesn’t matter how much he weighs, just keep his body and head in the water as long as possible. If he is a big guy then we will probably try to muscle with his arms. To avoid that have him concentrate on using his torso and using a light grip on the paddle shaft.

Taught two guys last week

– Last Updated: Mar-26-07 3:33 AM EST –

on a cold windy rainy day in Bellingham Bay. First guy 10 minutes, second guy 15. Second guy never kayaked before. Rolling is easy. Instructors make it hard.

1. Let go of the terminology..C to whatever..blah blah...that crap locks your thinking, and misses the point.
2. Rolling is a combination of dynamic lift from a sweeping paddle blade, body position, and head/hip movement.
3. A properly sweeping blade is HUGELY powerful, and the big guys need to sweep it fully around.
4. Concentrate on getting the hands high on the set-up. Lead the sweep with the head and torso. The trunk has to move with the arms, so focus on that, a relaxed spine, and keeping the head in the water as long as possible.
5. Play a game, and ask them to hit you in the thighs with the paddle blade while head is still in water. They'll be up before they do!
6. Longer sweep = less hip flick, shorter sweep = more hip flick.
7. It's psychologically huge to get them rolling safely any way possible. Once that happens have them do 1000 rolls on that side that way. Give em a month to do so. They will have a monster roll! You wont have to teach any other :) They will teach themselves the other side, snapping sooner etc.

Easiest people to teach are the ones who know nothing about kayaking

Big guys - my experience

– Last Updated: Mar-26-07 11:03 AM EST –

Unfortunately, large foot size accommodation usually makes a boat fit that does not lock in the thighs. Current Designs also does not have very good thigh bracing unless they changed.

I would have him lay over on his roll up side and place the paddle on the lip of the pool and see how he does as far as twisting up the kayak. My suspicion is that he is not locked in enough in the thigh area to twist the boat up.

If you get him to lean his head back best he can, that may work. As far as a rigid hip snap, unless he has a good thigh lock on the boat, it's not going to happen. Also, big people are just at a loss due to the ratio of flotation and paddle size. Many small people can leverage themselves up whereas a big person still only has the same paddle blade size to use on their extra weight. I know it's the hip snap etc. but almost all beginners use the paddle quite a bit in the beginning.

As far as lugging him up. I usually wrap my arms around him and get in as close to the boat as possible right on his side. In other words: I use my shoulder to raise him from his mid-section. Working from behind, it's quite a struggle to get a big person up.

Good luck! In a pool situation it's helpful if a few different people try working with him because one person may hit the magic solution. It's not always easy and not you.

Also, you can possibly try another boat. Size 15 is large but you can get him into an Explorer bare foot and try that if available. I've seen paddlers suddenly roll in another boat rather than their own.

rolling prerequisites
The first tests I do are on dry land. Have the student sit on the boat and bend from side to side and forward. If there is good range of motion and a reasonably snug but not tight fit, then a roll is possible. If there is not much range of motion, there is little chance of rolling. Either the boat is too tight or the student needs to do some stretching, or both.

Good ideas
Thanks everybody.

Like Jay said, part of my problem was just physically getting him back upright. Yeah, he’s ok in the water but I don’t want him developing bad habits by pushing up for air - I’d rather he trusts me to get him back up than to haul up on something. I’ll try the shoulder thing. Hopefully it will get easier as he develops a hipsnap to help things along. I think maybe boat rotations off the bow of another boat would help him.

Correct about the fit, too. I think he was sliding out of the thigh hooks.

Good suggestions as always Salty. I didn’t push thing even as far as having him try to roll. I’d like to see him get the boat motion a little better. He’ll just have to put up with me learning as I’m teaching - Or I could send him out your way:-)

Thanks to everyone else, too.

Put your arm under his to lift.
Try water not so deep…Deep enough, but which will allow you to hook your arm under his arm pit and pull him up. Works wonders. That’s the position I always seem to take and lifting even chunky folk is easy. Keep after it.

you can jump over the boat…
Jump over the boat and throw your body weight backwards and use your body to bring the boat around I have used this tons and it gets people even twice my size back upright. As for the back deck position, have him boost himself in the seat by adding foam to sit on, this will raise where he sits in the boat and allow him to lean back more.

Salty, can you explain #5 a little more?
Good stuff. I’m not sure I’m understanding #5. I’m picturing that you’re standing out from the kayak, at about the distance of the edge of the arc that the sweeping blade should make. Maybe straight out from the cockpit, or a little behind the cockpit. I’d think the water would be at least hip height though and you’d be asking the paddler to try to hit you in the hips before lifting his/her head out of the water. So I may be totally missing the idea.

With great interest,

Paul S.

(haresfur, great subject!)

A lot of instructors focus on hip flick soo much that they lose the incredible power or a sweeping blade. As big, husky folk tend to be less pliable / flexible, I believe they benefit greatly from this powerful sweep. By leading the sweep with a submerged head and torso, and relaxed spine they do two key things:

  1. They get their trunks out from “under” the kayak. and get them moving.
  2. They get their bodies in a much better position to naturally hip flick.

    The game simply gets them to sweep further with their head in the water. Invariably they end up coming up thinking you helped, when you did nothing… Now it’s time to fine tune sweep Vs snap etc.

    Over the years my roll instruction has gone from complex / textbook to very simple / concise. Learning times have gone down drastically. Anymore it seems about 15 minutes on average, so I keep gettin the tough cases. Haven’t failed yet…, but I’m sure this approach will not work for someone???

Forward ending rolls
Have you tried teaching him a forward ending roll? The Pawlata is a great roll for people who don’t like to lie back. Some people (like me) just don’t feel comfortable lying back. The extended paddle really helps. It gives a lot more leverage for the bigger guys.

Also, is your student wearing a dive mask or goggles? It might help if he can see what he’s doing with the paddle blade. Once he understands how to generate lift with the paddle blade he just needs to keep his head as low as possible until he’s up.

I also like the Put Across; it teaches the body to rotate the kayak.

Good luck,

Pedro Almeida

May be worth a try
I think the rotated finish “kayak roll” video’s roll might be easier, especially since I’m not sure how to teach a strong forward finish.

Actually a couple of times coming back up with help, he instinctively dropped the paddle with his offside hand and flung the arm over to help balance. So he’s part way to an angel roll.