Perfecting my roll...

Okay, I bought the Kayak Roll tape and now I’m thinking of buying a pony bottle to help perfect my roll.Hey, anything to make it easier! My Trigger is going to be easy to roll too-I could tell from my pool experiences when I tried half rolls a couple days after I brought her home. I really want to perfect my rolls by my ww class in August. Think I can do it?

I’m a doughhead when it comes to orienting myself underwater upside down-maybe even more than some! And my pony bottle may come in handy some day when I’m diving…

Depends on how you learn

I think your success will depend to some extent on how you learn. Watching video probably wouldn’t have worked for me.

Visual Learners- learn best by seeing

Auditory Learners-learn best by listening

Kinesthetic Learners-learn best by mimicing or using their body while learning

There are probably other types of learners. I’m sure everyone is a combination of these types, but I found out very quickly that I was a kinesthetic learner when I did some training last year. If you don’t get your roll by the time you take your class, I’ll bet you’ll have it before the class is over with the help of some good instructors. Just don’t hurt yourself by trying to force a roll if it doesn’t seem to be working. Have fun. A roll is essential in this HOT weather we’re having.


Two things:
I got my flat water roll proficient using the method Airwave showed in his video clips. First learn to scull so you get the blade angle, body posture, and the ability to get air no matter whet happens. Next, when you’re comfortable with your sculling, learn how to high brace and take it progressively deeper as you keep getting more comfortable in deeper positions. At some point, you find yourself relaxed and motionless, completely upside down. When you can do your high brace roll up from there, you’ve got your roll. This method also works with Euro paddles, but you need to make a conscientious effort to get the inboard blade clear of the hull before the sweep. If you’ve got a “half roll” now, you basically have your full roll too. Get into your setup, capsize following your paddle in, enjoy the ride, wait for your hands to clear the water on the other side and do your half roll. You’re done.

Greg Stamer once said if you know the set up position and the recovery position, the rest is just getting your body to learn how to get from one to the other. This really is true as I just get into the setup and the next thing I know, I’m feeling the water shed off my face upright.


One of the guys
in the pool said I was coming up without any effort-in other words I was smooth. I also didn’t feel like I was "hanging’ onto Jari’s yak much, rather that it was “there” for my peace of mind when trying to right myself. I know when I start to roll well, I’ll be the rolling fool in Lake St.Clair this summer!!!I can feel how quick she is in responding to movements.

I am a middle-aged newbie roller and if I can learn a trick like that . . .

At the recommendation of many here, I purchased Eric Jackson’s roll and brace video and his intuitive approach really resonated with how I “feel” things. I also really liked the seamless transition he teaches from high brace to the roll which, as Yogi Berra might say, is what you need when you need it. In other words, that is how things work in the real world - you roll after a failed brace.

Keep us posted.

Don’t you know ther are only

– Last Updated: Jun-25-05 9:32 PM EST –

kinesthetic learners? That's the way I teach it and it is the best way for all! Sieg Heil!

;-) really just joking and mocking a response to to a similar post of mine some time back. Variety is the spice of mind. A thousand roads to the Buddha. Yeah, like that

Forget the pony bottle.
You can easily teach yourself to do multiple roll attempts and not run out of air. It is explained in this Sea Kayaker article about “orca breathing”.

Thanks for the interesting article
Dr.Disco! I should get a pony bottle anyway and I’m going to try the breath holding exercises as well. I used to do breath holding tortures in the pool every day-I’ll take them to the lake for the season starting today. Once I start rolling that sweet yak I’ll be on a roll so to speak! HAHA!!

I’ll be using those drills as much as possible in the next while to help my breathholding for rolls. I’m still getting a pony bottle- should have at least one anyway for diving…thanks again for that article!

From A Newbie Roller
Well…Almost Roller. I have been working on perfecting my roll for about a month. I think I would be further along if Id have had more practice opportunities.

I bought the DVD, “The Kayak Roll” that Greyak recommended and found it pretty good. I watched it closely several times. They teach a sweep roll. I then took a class locally and they teach a C and C roll. I was not able to get up at the class, (the class was abreviated due to weather). Later on I did manage to finally get up using the sweep taught in the video.

There was one particular exersize shown in the diagnostics section of the video which really helped me. the instructor stood behind and to the outside as you were between a high brace and fully capsized position. The instructor had one hand on the paddle and the second on your vest. As you attempted your roll the instructor would keep your paddle oriented correctly, and with the other hand could provide a bit of assist if required.

I have to laugh at myself. The biggest issue I had is not a good one to have had considering my proffession, an engineer. I really got confused visualizing the sweep motion as it related to the boat and body torso. I spent hours thinking and attempting to “see” it all work.

After it clicked, all went well. I dont get every attempt now, but most. For me, I have modified one particular body movement. I brought in the C part of the recovery into the sweep which is just a bit easier for an older body.

good luck,


Getting Air without a Pony bottle
Usually even a failed roll attempt will allow you to “get some air”. First you need to learn to calm any sense of panic or entrapment you may feel. With a little practice you can learn to lean on the back deck and scull with your hands (or the paddle) to get a breath of air as needed. You can even rock the kayak from side to side while underwater to give you some momentum, to either complete your roll or just get a breath.

A Greenland technique called the “Petrussen Maneuver” allows you to breathe from a capsized kayak, and you don’t need a Greenland kayak either. The wider the better (a wider kayak makes it easier to twist around in the cockpit). Information on the Petrussen is at .

Greg Stamer

Interesting article…
Now I’ll have to try that in Spot-she’s my wider Dagger rec yak.

Dunno about that.
I can barely get one paddle end out of the water when I set up for a roll and usually don’t get either end out. Don’t see how I would ever be able to get both hands on the hull and pull my head out. But an interesting article non-the-less.

Boat dependent?
There are a lot of Greenland techniques that may not be so practical in non-Greenland boats. A balance brace is simple in a traditional Qajaq, but still eludes me in my QCC, as does the Petrussen, etc. Sure there are some great paddlers like Dubside who can do anything in any boat, but those of us not possessing supernatural abilities may not have the same results.

Flexibility is another big/interrelated factor - and a Tuiliq (Greenland paddling jacket/skirt) allows for more movement that most sprayskirts.

When combined, the traditional gear is almost cheating! Exactly what is needed to hunt and survive among the ice.

Your post hit me with something I find annoying with cookie cutter lessons. Why would a school focus on one type of roll, when everyone rolls a little different anyway. The concepts of body position, paddle lift, hip/head motion are all used in varying degrees to accomplish different rolls. An excellent instructopr will pay attention to the students body type, learning style, flexibility, etc., and adjust his/her teaching approach accordingly. Pay extra for a one on one with a good teacher, and you’ll be rolling very quickly. What’s with all these labels. Pals who were Olympic paddlers don’t know what a C to C is even. I think beginners get polarized by terms and the ego’s of others who argue over this or that roll. I like EJ’s approach.

Boat Dependent?
I found the Petrussen to be easier to perform in a Chinook (24" beam) than in an Anas Acuta (20.5" beam). In the case of the Chinook you have enough room in the cockpit so that you can simply “shuffle around” and sit on the side of the seat. In a narrower kayak (such as most Greenland kayaks), this same motion must be accomplished by torso rotation.

A tuilik is not required.

A lot of these techniques are not difficult – you only have to willing to try them and have enough persistence to get past intitial failures.

Greg Stamer

Outfitting dependent?
“you have enough room in the cockpit so that you can simply “shuffle around” and sit on the side of the seat.”

I am tight in my cockpit. Probably a holdover from WW paddling. There is no way I could sit on the side of my seat.

If you can’t rotate in your seat at all, then you will have to rotate your torso instead. You won’t know until you give it a try.

I like very secure outfitting as well (and paddle low-volume Greenland kayaks), but I don’t care for knee tubes, thick hip pads, or anything else that excessively hinders lower-body rotation in the cockpit.

Greg Stamer

Has yet to work for me…
I’ve tried to do the Petrussen in my Necky Elaho, but so far I’ve had no luck. Of course I have pretty poor flexibility. I’ll have to remember to try it in my SOF and see if it works any better. Rolling and balance braces are certainly much easier in the SOF