Indoor Pool Practice

I am heading out to a local indoor pool to practice for the first time…am psyched. I have had a few lessons from a fine GP teacher, though this will be the first time I have practiced rolling/bracing alone. My goal is to really get to know my boat…work on bracing/sculling…and a roll. Although I am not completely finished reconditioning and setting up my boat for me…I cannot wait any longer to spend time in the water.

I have a few questions. Do you have any suggestions as to what has helped you become better acqainted with your boat when you have time in a pool? Any exercises…routines…use of the wall?

Having looked at the videos on MANY times…I plan to work on the standard roll and/or the storm roll as exemplified by Greg Stamer. It appears as if the storm roll might be a good first roll to master, as it leaves you in a position ready to brace as needed. And given that I have a Sirius HF…I am figuring I will likely need to brace.

I would really appreciate all suggestions!

Have a great T-Day all…


I don’t

– Last Updated: Nov-20-04 9:31 PM EST –

like the 'wall' at all. no where in the field will you find a rigid vertical wall to grab, so why practice on something so obscure?

another boat stem (bow or stern) works well for practicing hip snap. look up/ look down associates you with head dink/ hip snap. when you roll upside down and you're holding on to a bow say, you look up, now as you snap the boat back over you end up looking down.

bracing with a paddlefloat on your paddle can help teach you body posture, just don't get dependant on pulling down on it. it's more about proper posture and hip snap than paddle flotation.

Layback/ balance braces are fun too, especially if there's someone to rescue you if you fail and don't quite have the roll.

sculling is always a good teacher of blade articulation/ support. keep elbows in and low and body (not necessarily HEAD) balanced over the hull. I think of my belly button as the balance tool not my head. Mini-J-lean from the bb, not the top of the head.

nose plug and/or mask helps keep the chlorine out. i practice with my eyes closed.

Have fun


I would wash all your gear down with
fresh water when you get home. That high chlorine concentration is not something you want to leave on spray skirt, pfd. I don’t know that it’s harmful, but I think it could be.

Pool chlorine
will definitely eat up anything after a while. I have gone through numerous shirts and hats which were turned into shreds and threads by pool chlorine.

an old seat cushion floatation device

– Last Updated: Nov-20-04 11:31 PM EST –

works great. Muscle on that and it dives; use it gently and you are up. No way can you raise your head and get up on that. When you can hit that with consistancy you are absolutely well on your way.

The wall is OK for intro to hip snap but should rapidly be dropped and should only be used with about one square inch of contact.

Other than that if you are local to boston, had a bunch of great pool sessions last year,. Brother Sing organized some of them. Don't know who is carying the torch this year.

I don’t think the storm roll would be a good roll to start out with. I would think that the extended paddle greenland roll would be a better choice. The extended paddle will give you a lot of support to help you develope better technique. As the roll gets easier you can shorten the extension until your hands are in the normal paddleing position. The side scull and balance brace are good techniques to practice. They will give you a better feel for the paddle and boat. Learning the chest scull is a good step to learning the reverse sweep and the storm roll. As you learn different rolls you’ll discover that some rolls are stronger on one side than the other. You can also practice low braces. You’ll notice that the new skills will get better at each pool session as you develope the new muscles and reflexes. I found wearing goggles was very helpfull in learning new rolls. Wearing nose plugs will let you concentrate on the roll better. Have fun. Your skills will develope quickly if you keep at it.

Ditto What He Said

– Last Updated: Nov-21-04 5:04 AM EST –

I find the GP "storm" roll probably the more strenuous and explosive, akin to a C2C roll, a tad more straining, at least for me. The boat here makes a difference. If the boat has A low back deck, layback sweep is so much more gradual and gentle.

BTW, even with a layback roll you can come up ready or already bracing. As you finish the roll and are ready to sit back up, just flip the paddle blade over, sweep forward as you sit up. That is an added brace component in unsettled water.


Great suggestions all!
Really appreciate all of your thoughts/suggestions/warnings.

Keep telling my wife how psyched I am that I have found an indoor pool where I can take my kayak to spend more time in the water (upside down), brace, work on rolls, exit…etc.

Given that her understanding of a boat is that it is a vehicle used in order for one to stay out of the water, it is rather admirable that she just smiles and tells me how happy she is for me…of course with a look on her face expressing that I am out of my mind.

Kind of reminds me of what a an intergalactical social psychologist might think if s/he landed on earth for a observation of the ‘male species’ in North America. S/he might wonder why so many men wake up every morning and wrap a rope around their neck, make a knot and tighten it.

I rarely wear a tie unless I ‘have to’. Have switched my masochistic neck binding to drytops/suits…

Thanks again…


Side of the Pool
There is nothing wrong with doing boat rotations and hip snaps on the side of the pool. If the pool side is close to the water (ours has a ledge that is virtually at water level) then try this. Put a sponge (like the ones used to get water out of a boat) on the pool side and lay the side of your head on the sponge. Take your hands away. Then do boat rotations while keeping your head on the sponge. If you need to, work up to this by using the support of one hand. When you have this down, do actual hip snaps. You will find later that it is easier to keep your head down no matter what roll you learn.

I teach kayak rolling in Ypsilanti, MI on Sunday evenings. I have taught dozens of people to roll over several years. Some people learn in one night, some people never learn. Mostly I teach C to C or Extended paddle roll.

The C to C roll is essentially an extreme brace and the extended paddle roll an extreme sweep. I will try to teach a bracing technique or C to C roll first. I feel that the brace is a useful all around kayaking technique that should be mastered. By teaching a C to C roll I am killing two birds with one stone. Also the brace/hip snap must be master in order to have a bomb proof Eskimo roll. After repeated attempts I may give up and teach the student an extended paddle roll. I find the lay back position a poor substitute for a hip snap. A lay back roll will never become bomb proof and it indicates poor bracing technique.

There are two parts to any roll: the manipulation of the paddle and the hip snap. Of the two the hip snap is more important. Most students do not realize that two mutually exclusive things (paddle manipulation and hip snap) are happening in the roll. This is why the student becomes confused, and lifts his head. The hardest thing to teach is keeping the head down.

The hip snap and the paddle manipulation must be taught separately. Hip snaps off the wall, off the bow of the instructors kayak, using life vests, or other aides should be encouraged. Only repeated hip snaps can teach a student to keep his head down. I only teach paddle manipulation after the hip snap has been mastered. In fact most of my students have rolled using the life vest before I teach paddle technique. Paddle technique is taught with the instructor in the water, manipulating the student’s paddle. It usually only takes three tries before the student is rolling, if the hip snap has been previously mastered.

For students who cannot master the hip snap. A paddle float should be attached to the extended paddle of the student. The reason for this is to teach the student to keep the paddle on the surface of the water. A student who cannot hip snap usually buries his paddle in the water, too. Usually I have the student brace off the extended paddle with paddle float attached and the paddle at right angles to kayak. I have the student do extreme braces to get confidence with the paddle float and overcome his fear. Eventually I have the student sweep the paddle and roll using the paddle float. Then, with the instructor in the water, I have the student remove the paddle float and roll without it. One last thing, when the instructor is in the water he should first have the student practice rolling off the instructors hands. This is so that when the student capsizes and does not come up, you can simply reach out to them and they can roll off of your hands.

I disagree with some of this.
In particular I disagree with:

“I find the lay back position a poor substitute for a hip snap. A lay back roll will never become bomb proof and it indicates poor bracing technique.”

I suggest you look at the “Rolling and Bracing” DVD by Eric Jackson.

Ist roll video
Hey Sing a long, If you already havent checked out Jay Babinas video “Ist Roll” you might like it. It pretty much concentrates on the extended paddle layback with the Greenland and Euro paddles. The video is helping me alot and it costs less than most. Newfound Boats in NH sells it online.



– Last Updated: Nov-21-04 5:07 PM EST –

The man's never seen the Greenland rolling folks. They got thirty odd ways to come back over. And, as far as can tell, most of the foward to rear sweeps, be it with paddle, stick, or hands (or no hands) involve layback and not the explosive C2C type hip snap.

C2C if you got a high deck, okay. Feel to enter one of the Greenland rolling contests and see how you do hold against those that don't primarily utilize the the C2C.


Were you talking to me, Sing? I was supporting a lay back roll and agree with you.

Agreed. I was just reacting to the highlighted quote you had by the previous poster.


Pool temp
One thing nobody has mentioned is pool water temperature. Don’t assume it will be all that warm after you have rolled in it a whole bunch of times. Wear or bring along neoprene or fuzzy rubber, not a bathing suit. Of course, your body composition will determine how long it takes for you to get chilled so this is just a warning rather than a definite thing.

The only two times I practiced in a pool I got pretty chilled by the end of an hour.

The good thing about the pool was that I practiced rolling without a PFD on and found that it made no difference. This is good to know.

what about handrolling?
I usuallly don’t wear a pfd in the pool but I recently learned to handroll in a river. Does the PFD’s bouyancy help significantly for pool handroll practices?

GP Rolling Progression
I don’t recommend starting with a storm roll. For many people it’s harder to learn than it looks. A useful sequence for Greenland rolls might be:

  1. become comfortable in/under water. The Greenlanders do this by having a student tuck, capsize, and then bang on the bottom of the hull to signal the instructor to roll him up. They do this over and over until it ceases to be exciting for the student.

  2. side sculling (teaches paddle control,finding balance point of kayak and body, and aft leaning hipsnap on recovery). Once you can side scull and recover, you can recover from a capsize in the same way. There is much more to sculling than simply creating lift with your paddle. More important is learning a balance position with your kayak and body where very little (or no) paddle input is required. This balance position opens up a number of doors.

  3. standard roll (you may wish to scull up initially). This is not just a “beginner’s roll”. This is a subtle, yet very powerful roll that can handle most sea-kayaking situations. This may be the only roll you ever really need. We play around with this roll by having one or more “passengers” hang on to the bow and stern during the roll, to provide resistance.

  4. balance brace. Logically you could do this right after learning a side scull but most people want to get a roll down as soon as possible!

  5. armpit roll or crook arm roll (for variety and to have a one-handed option). Both are just variations on the standard roll.

  6. chest scull (teaches forward leaning hipsnap and is a good precursor to the reverse roll)

  7. storm roll (an excellent roll for serious weather)

  8. reverse roll (sweep from stern to bow in a low brace – different than the Steyr roll which uses a high brace).

  9. norsaq rolls (a good intro to the hand rolls)

  10. hand rolls

    Basic roll descriptions at

    Of course, don’t neglect basic strokes and braces – you need those first. A roll is simply a brace performed while underwater, so make sure you can perform them competently right-side up!

    Some people find the forward leaning rolls to be easier, so this progression is only a loose suggestion. The Greenlanders start with the first three items in the order shown and I would generally recommend doing the same. Otherwise follow your interests and keep it fun (and safe).

    Greg Stamer

Shows what works for you is what is best
Nice for me to see your ideas on a different progression and why they are truly useful for some people. It is great you spell out the reasons for each. When I help friends it will assist me to help them figure out the progression that they feel will be best for them!

Fantastic pointers all!
Many thanks again to all of you for your suggestions…chlorine/water temp. warnings, and explanations.

Greg, I really appreciate your explanation of the process I am enjoying…makes much more sense now. It seems like a very logical progression, one of those sequences you absorb cognitively/emotionally until the muscle memory is ready to take over…rather hypnotic I would say! Also appears to be a great sequence to continue to refine with time.

Have a great TDay…