My (Un)Rolling Saga Continues

For those of you who have followed my seemingly neverending quest to roll, I started a 4 week pool class last night; details to follow.

For those of you who are new my series of posts,

I have been trying to roll for quite some time, taken classes, viewed the videos, rolled a couple of times, but never on my own. I concluded that it was the panic feeling that was messing me up, so I spent an hour or so each week last summer/fall practicing with some progress, but no success.

So, here’s the latest episode at the pool. After working for a while on other skills, I started my drills at the pool wall. Last summer’s practice helped a lot, as I felt very comfortable working upside down, and could actually focus on the mechanics. After the usual pool wall drills, I decided to try placing my paddle next to my boat on the offside (left), go over on my onside (right), retrieve the paddle, setup for a sweep, then do some practice sweeps, allowing the paddle to skim the water without attempting to roll up. I discovered a mechanics problem right away. I wasn’t able to reach high enough for the paddle to skim and the paddle tended to dive. I spent some time working on the problem, when I noticed that everybody had left the pool, and that class had ended 15 minutes ago. Next week, I figure maybe I’ll try half rolls with a float, or maybe I’ll try to see if I can position my body differently to be able to get my hands out of the water enough to do a nice sweep.


it’s all about the abs
you need to do a severe sit up to set up. (over the left knee for my on-side). It amazed me that in doing my off side (shoot me for the easy terminology) that I was (at first) unable to do the sit up to get into proper position!

can you
do high braces - that is get back up from falling to one side?

Yes, I’d say elbow deep
I probably should get comfortable going deeper than that.


Sounds Right
After months of sitting out the winter, my abs may need to get back in gear.


Have you tried a Pawlata roll. It sounds like that’s what you need. The extended paddle is much easier to get up onto the surface.

Try it if you haven’t already.

Will do

Deeper braces
I couldn’t really work on bracing until AFTER I could roll. Not being concerned about flipping makes it much easier to just flop and pop. Before rolling I wouldn’t push it and really go over, or even really lean/edge much.

I see no way to really work on deeper braces without a lot of wet exits if you can’t roll. Too much work. Better to work on the roll. Each roll attempt IS a deep brace attempt anyway. Get someone to stand beside you - or another kayak to give bow rescues - so you don’t have to punch out if you blow it. You’ll get 10x more practice.

Sounds like you had a good start and were able to tell what was going on. Now stop planning ways to experiment with EVERYTHING and stick to one thing for a while! Stick with it and build from there instead of fumbling around looking for more ways to break it down into parts you can over-analyze. At some point your going to have to get to the roll being ONE simple coordinated move.

It’s way to easy to get hung up on details. What some call a diving paddle - others call a Slash Roll! What some call poor setup - others call a Combat Roll!

Mechanics matter - but there is a huge range that can still work - particularly with sweep rolls. Focus on the kayak. Get the kayak over and up. That part always matters 90%. The rest is details and variations, and it’s a lot easier to work on technique after you don’t have to wet exit all the time.

Have fun.

Respectfully disagree.
Yes, having a roll will help with your confidence to learn bracing, however my first roll was based on my ability to high brace. I’d do highbraces over and over at the same body angle until I was totally comfortable and confident with it. I’d then go a little deeper and repeat the process until I was highbracing from 180 degrees totally inverted and at rest. It’s a technique I learned from this very board.

Lou, have you considered a sculling roll?


Interesting reading
Keep us posted. Inquiring minds want to know.

I don’t see any questions so no advice. For me the process you are involved in appears quite frustrating and undluy complex.

I find 100% success instructing in the roll as a sequence of skills building on each other. Each one can be practiced in a “no fail” method so what you remember is the foundation for the next skill. In a few hours of building on these steps you are rolling, and then strengthening and consolidating it.

Good luck with your own methods though!

I’m fairly new
…to rolling myself. I learned in a pool session this past October. One of the instructors at a sea kayak symposium I attended (but couldn’t participate in because of an injured elbow)taught me for about 45 minutes. The next session I went to I successfully rolled up three times in a row! She likes to teach the extended paddle roll with a layback. I can now roll up without an extended paddle, but I have to say that rolling with an extended paddle is a lot easier. A few things I like to do that keep my mind on the technique. I twist my body when upside down so that my back is facing the bottom. I then poke my paddle out of the water close to my boat (needs a little flexability)with my face toward the side of my boat. Then I sweep slowly using my torso to sweep as much as possible. I had a big problem with using my arms too much. They would be too far from my body toward the middle (and end) of the roll which tended to make the paddle dive (I think). Also, I was surprised at how slow and even the sweep should be. I was always in such a hurry in my previously failed attempts to roll. Believe it or not, I would practice sweeps in a chair or standing before going to my pool sessions, trying to keep my arms in one place while rotating my torso around my lower body. I find that the layback roll came pretty easily to me. I am still trying to figure out whether I am doing a hip flick because it doesn’t feel like it. With the layback I am about 90% successful at rolling up. Now I just have to figure out how to roll up on my second or third try after I blow a roll! I keep doing the same stupid mistake in the first attempt on my second and third try. I end up wet exiting. Rolling is soooo mental!

Paddle/hands out of the water?
Neither necessary nor desireable. Read this article by two of the best teachers in the business.

Agree with Evans
I’ve taught many people over the years with 100% success. Usually within one session. When I ran a program I offered a money back guarantee on one on one roll lessons. Never had to refund. Got lots of frustrated folk who were convinced they couldn’t learn! Fun to watch them do ten in a row after their first lesson. I think some instructors make this simple skill hard. People way over head game this stuff. Hardest to teach are the 10 year paddle club folk. Easiest are the total beginners who haven’t subconciously conviced themselves that it’s hard. Flame away, but I stand by my record and I’ll teach anyone for free who comes my way.

I say, get a really good instructor and go one on one, and you’ll be rolling that day.

What do instructors have against the
Pawlata? It is easily taught, can be effectively practiced standing on dry land and is a big confidence booster for the student. Lal, I recommend you buy Derek Hutchinsen’s book on Eskimo Rolling (I think they sell it in the pnet bookstore) and follow his step by step instructions on the Pawlata. Give your instructor the boot, you can learn this on your own and build from there.

No, I haven’t
But, I guess what I was trying to do last night was to scull, only my body was underwater instead of on top of it. The problem was that I couldn’t get the paddle high enough to have that skimming across the surface as in a sculling brace.


Been There, Done That
I’ve rolled with an instructor before multiple times, however, unless the instructor has very long legs and can walk beside my boat when I paddle, I have to learn to do it by myself. And that’s where the problem lies.


I bet many of us feel that way.
You want to shout “won’t someone competent take over this situation and teach this person to roll?” Whew! Feel better now.

Nice Info!
I agree with their approach. Good instructors actually teach each person differently depending on what they are seeing with said student.

Labels for different rolls can get confusing, and in the end they are all combinations of the same variables. Within the range of safe body positioning and head orientation there are many variations. Once people are successful with a given roll their confidence goes skyward and the refining / playing process begins.

I think your story is more the norm. I’m just weird I guess. But I’m persistent.