paddle dives in roll

Lately, for an unknown reason, my paddle dives in a sweep roll and I am starting to miss about 2 out of 10 rolls, with the paddle far beneath the surface. When it fails I do an extended paddle roll which seems less sensitive to diving blade. Don’t know why it happens sometimes and not always. I have been told to bend the wrist forward in the setup position to achieve a climbing angle but this seems awkward and I never had to do it before. Any suggestions?

do half extended
I had this problem a lot. More wrist bend should take care of it.

But a different route is to do a half extended roll. I shift the paddle down so that I grab the part where the blade meets the shaft, and from that can tell the direction of the blades face (and can make sure it doesn’t dive).

Normally I shift down so the paddle extends more, but sometimes I shift the other way (for the added challenge) and grab the blade/shaft interface of the blade that I will be rolling with.

BTW - I paddle unfeathered, which makes it real easy to determine the position of the blade by feel. May be harder with feathered (unless you do a 90 degree feather).

Diving paddle
The reason the extended paddle is less sensitive to the diving paddle is because half the paddle doesn’t have to be over the boat which puts the paddle on a downward angle. This is one of the reasons rolling with a GP is so much easier. Try not hanging under the boat when you sweep but crunch yourself a bit upward. In other words, be more in your set up position but up-side-down. Try not to pull on your paddle in anticipation of getting up and wear a dive mask to practice so you can see what’s happening. Obviously the blade angle has to be slightly climbing. It not easy so the easiest way to correct is to try to relax and do things a bit slower. All beginning rollers have set backs and it’s just part of the learning curve. One other thing you can try is to not worry about the sweep but just concentrate more on getting the paddle on the surface out to a perpendicular position more like a C to C as a corrective exercise.

Had the same problem when I started
This is what worked for me:

Before committing your whole body to the roll, first just quickly pull the blade down once or twice. Resistance (or lack there of) will tell you if your blade is oriented correctly. If you get resistance on the blade then go ahead and commit, if you don’t get resistance quickly slide your hand up to the blade to find out which way you need to turn it.

Just give it a try, I think it’ll work for you.


Keep your “off-side” elbow in your rib
you might be pulling down on the blade with your forearm. OR, you might be reaching-around, with the “off-side” hand…rotate using the ribs only

grip might be too tight
I conceptualized it by a sense that I was leading the paddle with the back of my wrist so that I could feel the blade climb to the top of the water. Once you tighten your grip you can’t tell what the blade is doing. The other possibility is that your torso isn’t off to the side far enough and you’re sitting up while upside down which pretty much forces the paddle into a dive instead of a sweep.

non -sweeping hand
I learned to control the angle of the sweeping blade with the non-sweeping hand. The proper angle at setup only lasts for a moment, though it is important. Taking the nonsweeping hand from extended above the surface of the water at setup, to doing a curl motion throughout the roll ending with that hand nearly 180 degrees up next to your shoulder (just as your body does a 180 degree change) works to keep the proper angle. All the while, you also must keep your upper arm (same non-sweeping arm) tucked close to your body. Just pay attention to where your nonsweeping hand ends up at the end of your roll. If it’s down on your deck with a 90 degree bend in your elbow, or if your upper arm is extended away from your body (meaning you’re punching out with your non-sweeping arm), this could be part of it. I bring this up because it’s something I have to pay attention to from time to time when a roll didn’t feel quite right. Just a thought.

scull, not sweep
I had that problem a while back. What got me out of it is predenting I’m sculling up during the “sweep” phase.

So I concentrate on the paddle blade to be on a climbing angle (like doing a scull) as I “sweep” the paddle back. I could immedidately feel the strong positive “lift” of the paddle, which starts to bring my body up out of the water. So much so I just automatically hip snap when I can feel I’m almost upright.

Yep. Gripping the outboard side too
tight creates a diving blade. Loosen up, let the inboard hand be the control hand. This is part of the reason for not having a dominant “control hand” to begin with.


Sweep vs. twist & slice

– Last Updated: Jul-24-09 11:59 AM EST –

Not sure of the particular difference b/w these two rolls, but after watching the video AND reading the comments of the author below it I was able to roll my boat much more easy than before.

Check it out:

The key in this roll is to have the paddle slice effortlessly! If there is any climbing angle it is minute - if you feel any resistance, then you are forcing it.

In fact, I was able to roll my WW boat with this roll for a first time. On a follow-up rolling session I proceeded and managed to roll it quite effortlessly with only half my WW paddle with minimum hand effort. There is virtually no down push in this roll nor there is a strong hip flick - you roll via the gradual unwinding of the body.

Again, not sure if a "sweep roll" is the same as this one I link to, but the lessons learned apply. Cocking the wrist on the leading hand back as in a motorcycle revving helps to keep the paddle slicing effortlesly back thru the water.

With a GP and a slim easy rolling sea kayak one can cheat quite a bit and not notice. I did at least ... and hence my fairly reliable roll in the sea kayak did not work in the WW boat *at all*. This particular video helped me get over it and now my sea kayak roll is actually better for it too -;)

Some other good stuff that can lead you to more good stuff...

great insights, tx

– Last Updated: Jul-24-09 12:14 PM EST –

I'm taking my first roll class w. a traditional paddle tomorrow.

It'll be really interesting to contrast that w. using a Euro. It's pretty unanimous - everyone telling me the stick easier. Can't wait to find out.

I AM bringing the Euro along to for grins (or maybe reassurance)as these particular instructors are very adept at using both. And they continue to switch back and forth, so I guess I have good roll -and role - models LOL.

pulling down is your problem
you actually want a slightly diving angle. anything climbing sweeps the boat and resists moving out to the side.

You are starting your snap and pulling down on the blade too soon.

seen it a million times.


Euro vs. GP Roll
I spent most of last year working on Greenland style rolls and neglected my Euro roll. When this season started I dusted off my Euro roll and it was terrible at first. It’s getting back into shape though.

I find the two rolling styles much different.

personally, I don’t.






that is gonna be my mantra.

More to chew on
Reading through this string I think some are missing what I think is really important and that is the “punch” after setting up for the sweep or c to c roll.

Your knuckles have to reach for air after you’re upside down. If your paddle is partially under water when you start you’re doomed to fail. Your paddle will dive and you’re pushing a ton of water. Once the paddle breaks the water with the punch, you can then feel with the power face of the blade to see if you have the correct angle for the sweep.

The right set-up automatically sets the correct paddle angle, keeps your offside elbow in close and frees the paddle for the sweep or the rotation out to 90 degrees for the c to c.

My two cents.

nose to label

– Last Updated: Jul-24-09 2:16 PM EST –

One tip I use is visualizing my nose tryng to touch the boat label on the side of my kayak when upside down, in effect puliing the boat in toward me, I am getting very close to the surface of the water on the side versus hanging underneath. Heck, I could probably even stick my head up to get some air. Then reaching up with my paddle at the water's surface while observing the surface, there is no way for the blade to dive. I am actually watching the blade skim the surface as I do it.

I am in the same "boat!" though as the other poster. I have rolled for several years only with a GP and usually an extended paddle. I just recently got the Cyprus, have not tried yet, but am concerned doing the roll with a Euro-never done before.

yep, paddle in the air at first
One problem I had was my hands were out of the water, but the angle of my hands put the sweep blade in the water. Changing that, ensuring a good setup angle (cocking non sweep hand a bit helped) and keeping a loose grip all helped the blade glide nicely over the water (sure it finally dips a wee bit near the end). A tight grip and rushing everything is common when not comfortable (e.g. colder or rougher water than you are used to) so practicing staying calm in those conditions is important too.

Well, they both get you upright
Comparing a Euro sweep with standard Greenland roll, this is how they seem different to me:


Euro you need to register the sweeping blade to make sure you don’t initiate with a diving angle. This is less crucial with the Greenland blade, partially because the paddle symmetry allows you to feel the orientation, and partially because the diving angle doesn’t get increasingly steep like with the Euro. In other words, a slight diving angle with a Euro blade will rapidly turn into a steep diving angle, whereas a slight diving angle with a GP will stay at that angle, and can even be corrected or completed as-is. Also the buoyancy of a Greenland paddle will work against the dive.


As pointed out earlier, you don’t need to hold the Greenland paddle over the hull. But I guess if we compare the extended grips of both versions this is kind of moot. I suppose a sweep is a sweep.


I need very little “hipsnap” for the Greenland version, whereas the Euro requires a lot of it. As a result my Greenland roll seems slower, smoother, and more fluid.


The Euro sweep roll that I do finishes with my off-water hand near my cheek and my head facing down at the blade in the water. A standard Greenland roll finishes with me lying on the rear deck looking at the sky, with the blade held against my chest.

I guess there is a philosophical difference to me as well: my Euro roll is utilitarian, but the Greenland rolls are both functional and recreational.

Just my impression -

seem a lot the same to me

Best Wishes