Loosing your roll?

I keep seeing people mention they have lost their rolls. I’m curious about this. Could those of you that have had this happen comment?

I can understand getting rusty after not paddling for some time (often caused by a thing I think you call “Winter”), but what other factors might be involved?

Decrease in fitness/flexibility? (I’m neither fit nor flexible so can’t be this!)

Increasing age? (doesn’t have to impact anything)

Different gear? (adjustment periods?)

Also - for the on again/off again cases - what roll(s) did you do that were lost? (curious if this is more or less common with C to C vs. Sweep/Screw type rolls, etc.)

Was the lost skill formerly done on one side or both?

I’m just wondering if their are certain patterns, techniques, and gear issues that might point out ways to prevent/correct this, or if it’s something more insidious - like a waterborne virus!!! L

No, Not Really…
When I got my Venom surf boat, I was having a hard time using the sweep layback roll that I was using in my Boogie. My Boogie seat was jacked up some I can do way out leans. Not the Venom. When I first got it it would take 2-3 tries to come back up. Not good in breaking surf. As soon as I figured out that I need to do a more C2C roll, everything was cool again.

I imagine you could you lose a specific skill or have it become rusty if you take the winter off because you want to or have to.


Putting ten pounds around your middle
or losing touch with your abdominals.

What Peter said,
and old age,arthritic hips,and fingers don’t help either. I am looking into that inflatable assist bag,or another device.

Happy Paddling billinpa

I’m not sure
I lost it, just temporairly misplaced :slight_smile: It’ll turn up. (I hope)

My story.
I learned to roll working with my first instructor. I was paddling a Dagger Animas and going regularly to pool sessions. I did not know at the time that he was a terrible teacher and although I could do a sort-of sweep roll it was not reliable and my form was bad. When I moved up to a Dagger Redline (one of the early flat bottomed boats) I found I couldn’t roll it at all. None-the-less I perservered and gradually got my roll “back”. From my present perspective the Redline is not a hard boat to roll, but at the time I had developed so many bad habits from bad instruction and a boat that was too forgiving that it was a real struggle to regain being able to roll. Then I bought my namesake boat, the Disco. It is notorious for being hard to roll and sure enough I could not roll it. I loved paddling it but hated having to swim when I tipped over. I decided to abandon the sweep roll for the time being and learned to do a C-to-C roll. I learned to do it correctly and although the Disco and I have had a love/hate relationship when it comes to rolling that was the right choice. When I purchased a Booster 55 I could roll it right away. I now have a DragoRossi Fish, which is similar to the Disco in rolling difficulty, but still doable. With an EJ roll it is relatively easy so long as I don’t loose any strength or flexibility.

What do I take from all this (if you are still reading)? First, getting good instruction is important. Learning a roll with bad habits will lead to losing your roll. Second, there is a trade-off between challenge and so called “user friendly”. If you start out with a boat that is too easy you will have early success and confidence but almost certainly develop sloppy habits that will come back to haunt you. When you move on to a different boat with things like hard chines or wide flat bottoms (which you will do) then you will find you have “lost your roll”. If you start out with a difficult boat you will have to deal with failure and frustration. But if you stick it out you will be rewarded with a roll that is less likely to go away. Third, don’t practice when you are tired. Your body and mind try to compensate and almost always that leads to incorporating bad habits and losing your roll.

Learning a roll with bad habits…
> …will lead to losing your roll


And when somebody says they have, say, an 80% roll, they probably have bad habits and are muscling up past a weak or unravelling hip snap, or something equally bad. That kind of roll can be easily lost – over a winter break, in a loaded boat, in any kind of conditions, etc.

In fact, if that describes you, and you’re not getting better, then seek a good instructor / diagnostician prontissimo. Otherwise, you are just burning in the bad stuff and making it harder to get right ever. I’ve been there.

regarding practicing when tired
Although for beginners learning to roll this is good advice, I actually intentionally practice rolls when I’m tired now (or roll until I’m tired and then roll some more). What I’ve found is that the situations that I need to roll with are usually after I’ve been paddling hard and surfing/playing on the river and I’m tired. Therefore I try to simulate my physical condition when I will most likely be rolling. I’m sorta training myself to be technique focused when I’m tired. Also in terms of roll practice, I probably spend more time hand roll practicing these days than paddle rolling. I figure if I can roll up with one hand when I’m exhausted, I will never have a problem with a paddle in my hand.

Good point.

my roll practice includes making it difficult. For example, I sprint across the pond, flip and roll. Sprint back, flip and roll. I deliberate do three bad rolls and then do a good one.

Fact of the matter, when I have roll in surf or ww, I am usually a little winded and in less than optimal conditions. I need to maintain my cool neverthelss and roll successfully.


I learned a roll about 10 years ago
and didn’t practise it- then I broke my collarbone badly and finally just had the desire to get back at it. Now I have a ww yak and I hope to roll before summer well- a 5 day class is coming up and I want to good at it by then.

is the big factor for me.If I get tired my technique gets sloppy. Last summer I paddled on a Sunday morning with a rather nasty hangover(no excuses).My first rolls were ok,then I lost the ability to come with the paddle in combat position(non extended). After that they got weaker and uglier till I had to wet exit so we threw the boats on the car and went home,but it bothered me,I haven’t had to swim in ages. Next weekend after a good night’s sleep my roll was back,the boat felt lively and life was good.

Never gonna drink again.



Loss of Focus
I haven’t fully lost mine since last fall, but I hit a couple of sessions recently where I was muscling up. Leading to a real risk that a near time was coming where the poor hip action would be so bad a muscle up couldn’t overcome it…

In my case it was a drop of focus on the hip action, I think very much along the lines of a “devolving hip snap” that Sing had mentioned he’d seen happen. Worked on some execercises and got that back Wednesday night.

I don’t think that type of roll learned would have made a diff. My primary comfort point, when I have to re-establish things, is a C to C. But the only diff that makes is that a weak or badly timed hip snap shows up more in that type of roll (which is a good thing). Having the problem is not related to any type of roll.

Three Reasons…I Think…

  1. Lack of practice. I have a very limited amount of time to paddle during the season when the water is not cold. I tend to spend this time out with friends paddling and not practicing. I think if I had kept practicing, I never would have lost it to begin with.

  2. Type of instruction. I’ve worked with a couple of instructors on getting it back. Both of them used a pretty similar technique: a) go for the whole roll, make corrections, repeat b) work on C to C roll.

  3. Fallen out of “The Zone”. Although I was able to roll, I don’t think that I ever was consistantly relaxed about it, causing me to rush through it and muscle it. The instructor who got me to roll for the first time was able to get me to relax and take my time.


hmmm no.

But I practice. I think once you have the real concepts of rolling down, it’s hard to truly lose it. You may have a bad judgement day and swim. But lose completely no. I’ve heard folks mention this, but what comes to mind is someone who didn’t have all of the concepts dialed in. When I teach rolling I always say that someone who has rolled once will roll again, it’s just a matter of stringing a series of successes together.

I try to vary my practice conditions.

I tried a new one last night,

paddle hard, then tossed the paddle away a few (feet or so) and then capsized without setting up and then attempted to hand roll up. I could do it all but one time and then without wet exiting swam the kayak to the paddle. fun, but tiring.

I do the same thing but then use my half of my 2-piece greenland paddle to roll up.

yup that always makes things interesting
I like to flip, have someone toss a random paddle somewhere away from me (canoe paddle, greenland paddle, euro, half a euro, etc.) and i swim to it and use it to roll up. Of course I could hand roll much quicker, but I like practicing the what ifs such as rolling up with a broken paddle. fun stuff!

Pretty much…
… what I was thinking when you said: “what comes to mind is someone who didn’t have all of the concepts dialed in”.

Sort of accounts for the “Loosing” typo! easier to lose loose things.

Only having been rolling a few months I didn’t want to impugn anyone else’s abilities or make that assumption though - as I’m sure there is much variety here.

For now it feels sort of like riding a bike - something hard to forget - but I’ve never fallen off a bike from being a little just tired while I have missed rolls! At this point - it’s that sloppy when tired thing, and slowing down and tuning up seems to do the trick on second tries.

I suspect a hand roll will be a ways off for me. Now that the basics are getting pretty locked in I will go back to more time just paddling, with rolls and such mixed in, and less time on really hammering on any one thing.

How far to you guys throw those paddles and swim to them? Easy when rested and full of wind, but last time i did it I’d been messing about for some time, had just popped off several rolls - came up tossed it and went over. With heart rate already up - and even getting air along the way - I was quite winded when my hand reached the shaft. I was rushing and winded on purpose, an it’s definitely good to practice this way sometimes. I don’t know if I had air for much more than one attempt. Something about going into setup position calms the mind though…

not too far
I typically throw the paddle around 10 feet away and swim to it. I also swim upside down in my kayak (leaning onto the back deck and doing a breast stroke) and I can do about a pool width before I get tired and need to roll up.