Is there such thing as an "offside"?

-- Last Updated: Mar-24-06 10:54 AM EST --

In a rolling discussion I was reading in another forum, someone noted that there was no such thing as an "offside" regarding rolling and that this term creates a mental block for students that makes learning that side more difficult. That is a sentiment that I have read a few times here on P-net and I wanted to see what people thought about this.

My take on this:
I do agree that the term "offside" may be a mental block and that "left side" and "right side" would probably be better ways to refer to rolls, but with that said I do definitely believe in the existance of an offside. First of all, feathered paddles force you to roll from a different wrist position on each side and one side will invariably feel more comfortable. Also if you are used to paddling with a feathered paddle, you will have a dominant "control hand" (typically right hand) which will have to give up control during a roll on the left side similarly to a left sided draw. Even if you are paddling with a zero degree offset euro paddle or a GP, one of your hands (unless you're perfectly ambidextrous) will have more dexterity than the other and thus better paddle blade control. Even if I train the muscles in my body evenly and my technique is perfect on both sides, the fact that I'm right handed when writing and throwing things might make the difference in what side I prefer to roll on. I tend to not believe it when people say that they do not have an offside/favorite side. Am I wrong here? Can one truly ever get rid of the offside if in fact it does exist? My take on this is that even Maligiaq probably has a side that he naturally gravitates to when things get rough.

Mostly Agree
The ideal is to not have an ‘off-side’ but most of us do have a dominant side. I am still working on my ‘off-side’ (right in my case) to make it as natural as my ‘on-side.’

I found it was easier to learn to roll and scull on my left (on-side) and that it is taking conscious effort to bring my ‘off-side’ on line.

The first instructor my wife and I had
insisted that students learn to roll on the off side first. The result in my wife’s case was that she indeed learned to roll on her off side and had trouble with her on side roll. Over time she gradually improved her on side roll and lost the off side dominance (now she has on side dominance). In my own case I went ahead and learned the on side first. It is still the case that my off side roll is weaker even though I am somewhat ambidextrous.

After A Level Of Proficiency…
“onside” and “offside” don’t denote the level of success (both sides can be highly successful) but rather what one goes to without thought. At least that’s how I think of it. Although I am right handed and learned to roll on the right side first, my psychological onside is the left. That’s where I find myself going to first. I only switch side when I can’t roll up for whatever reason on the onside.


I’m "one of those"
as my instructor called me. I am right handed but paddle left hand control. My leftside sculling brace and roll is better than my right.And I agree it may be because I consentrate more when I’m doing offside. I’m not sure. I do know it’s funny when I hand my paddle to someone that is right handed and forget to tell them. We get to do rescue practise :slight_smile:


Feels more alien at first
I found that I was very, very right-sided. The right side hip snap came on very easily quite quickly. (though adding the rest of the body and paddle took a couple of years…)

However, the left side hip snap was entirely different. It felt utterly foreign to me. It took a long while of doggedly practicing hip snaps against anythign that stayed still before I could isolate just the one thigh and my motion was actually continuous. For a long while, my left side hip action was a two parter that kinda stopped halfway up and had to be restarted.

There are still odd diff’s. I finally have, at least some of the time, a decent left side sculling roll and my left side scull has inexplicably become better than my right. However, last time I tried a wet re-entry from the left I ran out of air because I took so long figuring out how to get my body and the paddle oriented. I’ve been able to do this from the right for a long time now. (I felt pretty stupid.)

Over time this will even out, but apparently I’ll have to take it piece by peice.

Onside/offside may depend on the roll
I find for me the terms are becoming more blurred. While the right side roll is definitely more natural for me for basic rolls, I find that due to flexibility differences some rolls may be easier on my offside. For example, I can’t yet get the behind the neck paddle roll to work on my onside but it does work on the offside (at least some of the time). Balance braces work better on my offside as well.

For me onside/offside just indicates which side I’ll need to work on a bit harder.


I have an “offside” and an "onside"
As others have said, I feel right on my dominant side and awkward on my other side. I started working on my offside late last fall and have been working hard all winter in pool sessions, mostly on offside. My technique is clearly better onside vs. offside as evidenced by videos. I have gotten to the point where I can’t tell the difference between my hip snap on either side and, if I do a setup before the capsizing, I have to think whether I have set up on my onside or offside. I no longer automatically set up to my dominant side - it really doesn’t matter to me anymore. I wouldn’t say that my offside roll is bombproof, but I rarely miss it now (at least in the pool) and can comfortably switch sides if I do miss. Still, I know my form/technique is poor on my offside, especially the finish. My old body is not yet as flexible on my offside. With continued practice, I hope to make them equal and end up without having a dominant side. I think this is possible because the hip snap already feels equal either side.


This thread is over my head, but…
I’ve always found it strange that I’m much more comfortable going over on my right and coming up on my left (or trying to at least). Maybe that’s why I can never roll LOL!



– Last Updated: Mar-24-06 1:52 PM EST –

am also right handed, but when paddling with a euro blade, I use left hand control. I usually capsize to the left when trying a new roll that is a 360. If I am only going over and back up on the same side, such as in sculling, I capsize to the right. I can do both, I just tend to do things first where I will be comming up on the right.....not really sure if that is a right handed on side or a left hand control on side. I tend to do it the same way with a greenland paddle too , now that I think about it.

Best Wishes

after thinking about this some more I realized that when I warm up for rolling, I usually slide off the back deck, curl the boat over then reset-up under water and do a extremely slow roll up on the other side. and this one I usually start by capsizing or sliding off the rear deck to the right and comming up on the left.....I do this exercise on both sides several times, but generally feel better starting capsizing to the right.......if I have an off side, I believe it changes depending on the roll I'm doing....which must mean that both my sides are my off sides.....what a realization....go figure

Good synopsis of the situation.

– Last Updated: Mar-25-06 11:08 AM EST –

You've summarized things quite well.

The only thing I would disagree with is the premise that everyone "has a side that he naturally gravitates to when things get rough". While that may be true when learning new rolls or practicing, when one it capsized in conditions, you roll on whichever side you have to and good rollers do it without thinking. Being limited to rolling on one side only can be a serious liability.

More Right Side…
Was in the pool last night and was asked to try the bit where you flip over with the paddle on the wrong side, then pass it over the hull of the boat and switch it onto the other side to roll up. One of the things from the Eric Jackson video. And found another one of those “sided” moments.

While I got the pass over the boat etc on the first try when rolling up from my right, it took me the third or fourth try to come up on my left. The paddle was on the opposite side and all of that, but it took me a few moments to figure out which way was left once I was stopped down there and had added the physical thing of moving the paddle around.

I thought it was a feather thing
Not sure where I got this impression but I thought originally the off side was the side opposite your control hand. It didn’t necessarily mean it was harder or weaker but you have to twist your arm or the shaft or whatever you feather-types do to set the blade angle. For a lot of people, this is less straight-forward and thus off-side got to be considered synonymous with weak-side.

So for unfeathered paddler’s there is no off side. But probably for most people there is a weaker or harder side. So I generally refer to rolling up on my right to be my on side but rolling up on my left to be an off-side roll (aka non-existant so far)

As an avid whitewater kayaker, I definitely understand the need to be able roll up on both sides so that you are not fighting the current and I absolutely feel that have instinctual rolls on both sides is a great skill to learn. With that said, what I was imagining when I wrote “when things get rough” is when I am in the process of getting worked in a particularly strong hole on the river. Due to the washing machine affect and because the kayak is flipping and turning all around, you lose sense of direction and current for a split second. During that brief moment, I tend to orient my body more towards the right side as I stick my paddle out for some purchase with the water (I tend not to setup for rolls in whitewater). Thus I say that when things are tough I gravitate towards my onside which in my case is my right side.