Paddle position for roll - how to?

I’ve recently learned to roll reliably but occasionally miss my first attempt if my paddle is not in the right position - the angle of the blade to the water.

In these cases, I basically, need to slide my leading hand to the blade to feel where it is and then try a gain and it works on the second attempt.

So, my question is for hints on how to make sure your blade is in the right position.

Of course, if the capsize happens during paddling, or practice, this is not usually a problem - I’m already holding the paddle “correctly”. When it happens mostly is when I practice re-entry and roll and have let go of my paddle during the reentry and did not get a chance to first grab it right…

Would some sort of tape indexing on the handle help? Or is there a motion you do for the blade to right itself in your loose grip?


Shape of the shaft
The shaft on my GP is oval and I can feel when the blade is close enough to being correct. Is your paddle shaft round?


loose grip
With a loose grip at both hands, push the forward blade out of the water and pull it back down. The paddle will twist so that the blade is more-or-less flat to the water surface.

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Get Yourself a Greenland Paddle
and hold it loosely. You always know the angle is right. Ahhh… perfect.

Wing. Oval shaft=part of the problem-:wink:
The shaft is slightly oval so I do not know if I’m holding it up or down and it being a wing is not nearly as useful to be down as much as when it is up…

The GP is on my list - got two pine planks in the basemet for me to experiment with before making a decision on a more expensive one. Just need to find the time. I guess if I stopped frequenting here, I’ll save enough time in a few days to do the paddle -:wink:

Thanks for the tip on the loose handling over the surface - I’ll try that next time. On my WW paddle the shaft is bent so it is easier to know - it is basically always in position - but on the wing it is hard to tell without looking if it is up or down…

Loose as above
Is it a dihedral blade? While I still do the hand-out-to-feel-the-angle thing occasionally to see where I have things, for the most part you should be able to feel if you have a good catch as you start the sweep. If you don’t, relax your grip, so back to home and start again. Since a dihedral blade will generally try to find the correct angle, the second time is usually the charm.

I taped a toothpick to one of my paddles using electrical tape. That gives me a surer index than the slight oval shape does. I guess epoxy would be better but the tape has held up well.

you’ve got a wing paddle?
so there isn’t as much room for error,sounds like practice, practice, practice

roll index options
1. Tape a pencil, toothpick, rope, whatever where your leading hand belongs. All of my whitewater paddles have an index so I don’t have to wonder.

2. Instead of sliding your leading hand to the rolling blade, slide your other hand to the other blade. I used to cheat like this when I was learning the roll. You can tell from the angle of the offside blade what the angle is on the rolling blade. And, you can proceed with the roll without moving your hands, it may even give you more leverage.

With a wing…

– Last Updated: Sep-15-08 9:00 PM EST –

... I'd suggest taking advantage of sweep rolls vs. brace rolls, as you can let the blade self-orient during the sweep (much as it does during forward stroke).

When you initiate sweep you can let the blade fly as it wants to and it should orient on it's own by the time you need it too (and if you then also need more snap/brace at the finish, it's oriented for that by then).

As a practice thing, do the first part of the sweep to feel this - then tuck back to setup a few times.

The slide the paddle/reach out to touch blade root is a perfectly valid technique too (can be done quickly and fluidly as blades are just inches away in either direction). Another option is to put some sort of unobtrusive referencing marks/bumps tape/whatever that's easy to find it things get all turned around.

One more point - wings (and all paddles) work just fine for rolling when upside down too. Also recommended practice stuff.

are you using a straight shaft or bent?
Because one of my reasons for going with a bent shaft paddle is for automatic indexing.

straight shafts are a little tricky in moving water. you have to move them through the water, see if the blade is diving or climbing and then adjust. It takes some practice, but it is doable. I prefer to have a crankshaft for this reason. No guesses. the bend in the shaft tells me where the blade will be when I apply power.

Does that help?

Scull it a little
Or lift that blade up a little and see what happens when you let is plop down again. Or loosen your grip (both hands) so that the blade can naturally go to a flat position on top of the water. You can still roll up with the blade in a non-flat position if body mechanics are good.

Done much wing sculling pika… ?

– Last Updated: Sep-15-08 11:51 PM EST –

Seen may bent shaft wings Keith?

Though all you say both say is still true, and you can scull with a wing to some degree (fun to try and some useful tricks can be found there too - like flipping faces on direction changes), sculling's not really as useful and multipurpose a skill as it is with EP/GP.

Also, a wing might not lay flat on the surface if let go either (same for many feathered and less buoyant euro paddles too - and few use unfeathered wings). Blades will go where they want when in motion - and best to work with their natural flight path.

Wings are still fun and easy to roll with - just different.

GP spoil folks on these things - which reminds me I haven't rolled with my wing in some time...

That’s called a Short Pawlata Roll
And besides giving you the required indexing as mentioned above, also provides extra leverage.

I don’t know about your particular paddle, but when I grip mine this way, with the offside hand near the blade throat and the onside hand near the middle of the shaft, the joint push button falls right into the web of my onside hand, providing additional indexing which can even be felt while wearing neoprene gloves.

It takes an extra moment to shift the hands to this position, but is still faster than blowing a roll and trying again.

Good Luck!


In a re-entry and roll, I make sure my
left hand is in the correct position on the shaft before I re-enter, and then I re-enter without letting go on the left side. That way, after I re-enter I just grab the shaft with my right hand and sweep. If the paddle is in the correct position in one hand, it will be correct in the other hand as well.

that said,

you know in a hurry which end is the business end of a wing paddle!!