My Further (NOT) Rolling Adventures

How about the series of high braces?

– Last Updated: May-10-05 6:11 PM EST –

I would imagine the roll might be relatively safe, I was more concerned about the series of progessively deeper high braces leading up to learning the roll. I know I've decide not to practice extreme high braces and try to keep my shoulder pain free.


That’s my point!
You have it in your head it’s hard! The more you have in your head - the harder it is to come up!

It was not “easy” for me - I just assumed it was doable and experimented until it was. I had no real concept of easy/hard to apply to my own learning process - just an unknown path to a known skill I’d seen others easily do. I did not translate stuff that wasn’t working into an idea that it was hard. There were no “failed” rolls, only progress toward eventually getting completed rolls (some frustration of course - but expected and accepted as part of the deal). I had no idea how long it would take - or how “hard” it would be. As a result - it was OK. Could have been faster/slower/harder/easier - but that added BS didn’t matter.

Normally I’m very analytical and live 99% in my head. It was pretty obvious this approach would not work with rolling so I had to dump it. I fed that part of me through videos and online info, but tried to absorb concept more than details from them. Seeing/reading different approaches helped.

Sounds like you have 10X the help I had. I think it may be confusing you. The trick is to feel your way through the roll. Keep your mind and it’s ideas on the sidelines for reference, but don’t let them run the show! Unless you’re a friggin’ Jedi - your mind will never roll the kayak!

You THINK you have the mechanics in your head - but until you it all comes together those ideas are not 100% correct and can definitely get in your way. One thing I can tell you for sure from my own experiences: It’s not what you think it is (it’s a lot less!).

So think less, feel more. Confusion is conflicted thought. Fewer thoughts ABOUT what’s happening allows more clarity and more direct experience of what actually IS happening.

Techniques are funny things. They can’t exist mentally - they can only be learned/demonstrated physically. You think you know what a hip snap is - and keep practicing what you think it is - but if that was really what it is it would roll you up, no?

Think less! Feel more! Focus mostly on feeling what the kayak is doing. Some focus on yourself is of course needed - but a lot less than you may think. Same goes triple for the paddle. It is for orientation and stabilization of body position so you can transmit body power to right the hull more effectively (extended paddle = extra stabilization so less focused torso power will still work, hand roll = less stabilization and requires more focused application of power and more precise timing). You don’t really use the paddle directly to roll, so too much focus on it will likely lead to distraction from the torso/knee drive at best and diving paddle at worst.

The day I switched my attention from my ideas about rolling to what I was actually feeling - and my focus on that went from paddle to hull - was that day it all worked, and has ever since.

Short version: Stop working and start PLAYING!!!

Sorry to keep repeating stuff!

Strongly second that recommendation!
Nice to go at it form both ways - and Jay’s method is easy to work on alone.

Also nice in that it is sea kayak oriented. Seems most pool sessions are WW people/WW boats. Nothing wrong with that - but, well, watch the tape…

I struggled as well . . .
until I hit my first rolls this last week. What others say is true: I was up before I knew it and I just sat in the boat in disbelief. Lou, you will soon experience just how easy the first roll is and then the wonderful feeling of accomplishment that goes with it. I went around telling everyone I knew, “I rolled!” Most asked if it was intentional.

I deal in mental images and finding one or two keys for me that lets everything else fall into place. What did it for me was thinking about pushing with my top (near the bottom of the boat) hand rather than pulling with my other hand all the while raising my knee. I pictured making a circle under my arms with my head and my rising knee and actually practiced in front of a mirror at home.

Good luck. It will be wonderful when you nail it; keep us posted.

You may have an inaccurate picture
In EJ’s system a high brace is not like the classic high brace. The classic high brace is essentially the end of a C-to-C roll. Your head and body goes down at a 90 degree angle with a knee raise and support from the paddle. In the EJ high brace the head and body goes down at about 45 degrees to the stern. There is much less pressure on the shoulder and less reliance on the paddle. Also, the paddle does not go straight down, typically, but slides toward the stern somewhat. I can do a C-to-C roll and the classic high brace and the EJ roll and the EJ high brace and they feel noticably different. In any event I would never recommend you change anything if what you are doing now is easy on your shoulders.

since you quoted me :slight_smile:
i feel obligated to say a few words. A key point in EJ’s high brace progression is to maintain the paddler’s box. The paddle is only at shoulder level when performing the brace with elbows in toward the body to protect the shoulders from any injury. I personally practice a lot of deep sweep braces which is extremely easy on the shoulders. Since you already have a sweep roll, it would make sense to work on sweep braces. The amount of stress on the body is the same.

I’ll Keep That In "Mind"

Just watched EJs last night
Two things stood out:

  1. His emphasis on people’s limited RAM (Random access memory) - meaning we can only focus on a limited number of things at any given time. He has boiled things down so there is very little to think about. One position, one movement, etc. When he sees a student start thinking/hesitating/ or getting themselves set instead of just doing - he stops them and backs up to repeat and earlier step a few times. The part of the DVD for instructors may be the most valuable part as it really hammers this home and should help anyone see not only where they are messing up - but why. The reason is the same in the pool, or when a roll fails in moving water, paddle hits a rock, etc.

  2. The use of the layback position. Works great - but not everyone/every boat can do that. This makes the method questionable for some, but still work watching (same goes for “1st Roll”). For high coaming - less flexible people - I’d still point them to “The Kayak Roll”.

    Otherwise - a lot of common sense. Nice simple and flexible approach. Priorites clear and straight. The ways to get even better are great. Good footage. Great instructor tips.

A different tack
Lou, have you been paddling outdoors much? Not rolling, but just regular paddling.

If not, maybe you should take a break from frustrating yourself and just get back into feeling how your boat behaves. You are making a fun thing into w-o-r-k.

Practice edging, bracing, sculling, sweeps, etc. in addition to going forward, but tell yourself, “I am NOT ALLOWED to even think about rolling!”

You are getting wound up over “getting the roll,” and maybe that tenseness is blocking your progress.

If you get bored with easy things, maybe a little reverse psychology will help :wink:

Hi Pikabike!
The water is getting warmer up here, so I’ll be headed outside for some regular paddling soon. I get cold easily, so I probably will stay on top of the water until it gets more comfortable.

I’m actually not at all frustrated. Compared to sitting at a desk all day, it’s all good fun! I have sort of a plan in mind to spend about 15 minutes or so working on it by myself before paddling each week this summer.


Positive rolling thoughts
I like to keep reminding myself that I got the first half down pat. Eventually I’ll get the second half. (wet exits are fun I tell myself)


Lou- An alternative
Be a “pond paddler” like many of us and enjoy the scenery. You don’t get your head wet and you can rest your feet on the deck and enjoy an occasional cigar break.

Yeah, that’s fun too
although I think you may have a lot more scenery than is readily available in NY metro area. I don’t think I’d want to give up the occasional adrenaline rush and challenge of coastal paddling though.


Sounds like…
“You THINK you have the mechanics in your head - but until you it all comes together those ideas are not 100% correct and can definitely get in your way. One thing I can tell you for sure from my own experiences: It’s not what you think it is (it’s a lot less!).

So think less, feel more. Confusion is conflicted thought. Fewer thoughts ABOUT what’s happening allows more clarity and more direct experience of what actually IS happening.”

Is this the Zen approach to kayak rolling? LOL

Yes, Zen Master Erythronium
I shall meditate upon this the next time I hang upside down. I shall clear my mind and become one with boat, paddle, and water.

:slight_smile: Lou