Practicing Rolls Alone?

Is it the worst idea ever to practice rolling by myself? I went to a roll clinic on Wednesday. The instructor kept telling me I was making progress. I think I have all the pieces, I just need to put them together. I’ll be going to another roll clinic again on Wednesday, and doing as many as it takes for me to get it. I feel like with a little more time I can get it by myself. I’m comfortable with wet exits. I don’t have a pool to work in but I do have a nice big deep slow pool in the river that is free of any rocks to hit or things to get caught up on.

I am left handed. My dominant foot is my right though, which is slightly unusual. I also do many things right handed instead of left. I was trying to roll left handed. After I came home and watched a few troubleshooting videos and tried some motions, I’m starting to think I should have been doing it right handed instead. I feel like my hip snap will have much more power and control right handed instead of left. My paddle sweep may not be as precise as left handed, but I can dial that in as will. I have no doubt I can get this with not much more time at all. Now I really just want to go do it.

FWIW the first thing I plan to do after getting a roll, whichever side it may come on, is to learn it on the other side. I used to juggle for fun. I frequently found after learning something on my strong side it was much easier to transfer it over to my weak side. It’s mostly just a matter of getting the timing down. I feel like rolls will be the same way. Once I understand the timing on one side I’ll have it on both sides.

Two reasons not: First, it is very tiring to have to exit multiple times, drain the boat, then relaunch to try again. Secondly, it is best to have someone see what you are doing wrong.

I would practice alone in shallow enough water to stand. Good days and bad days. On good days I could roll until I got tired out and even without a skirt.
One bad day I missed a couple times in a row and when I bailed I looked up and saw a UPS driver running across the beach to save me. I waved him off but greatly appreciated the thought.

I do practice alone. Nothing wrong with it.

It is nice if someone is around and can do bow rescues, but this is not always an option.

As said above, wet exiting and draining is tiring, so you won’t likely get a lot of practice rolls. But you need to practice to get your roll, so go ahead and do it in a safe area where you easily bring boat to shore or do a cowboy scramble or similar remount (if you are learning in a sea kayak).

Back when I was learning, I would often do the practice at the end of a paddle, so that exhausting myself with a few failed rolls won’t ruin my time on the water.

I would really focus on that one on-side roll until that is really strong. Once you have that, it becomes your backup as you learn other rolls (off side, different styles, etc.). You can try that new roll and if it doesn’t work, switch to your on-side strong roll to get back up - this saves a lot of wet exits in the future and really works that one roll toward being totally bomb proof.

@gjf12 said:
Two reasons not: First, it is very tiring to have to exit multiple times, drain the boat, then relaunch to try again. Secondly, it is best to have someone see what you are doing wrong.
Trying to avoid developing bad habits is one of my biggest issues right now. On the other hand I know my limits. I know to stop and rest before I am spent. Or to wet exit before I spend all my energy trying to roll over and over. > @Peter-CA said:
I do practice alone. Nothing wrong with it.

It is nice if someone is around and can do bow rescues, but this is not always an option.

As said above, wet exiting and draining is tiring, so you won’t likely get a lot of practice rolls. But you need to practice to get your roll, so go ahead and do it in a safe area where you easily bring boat to shore or do a cowboy scramble or similar remount (if you are learning in a sea kayak).

Back when I was learning, I would often do the practice at the end of a paddle, so that exhausting myself with a few failed rolls won’t ruin my time on the water.

I would really focus on that one on-side roll until that is really strong. Once you have that, it becomes your backup as you learn other rolls (off side, different styles, etc.). You can try that new roll and if it doesn’t work, switch to your on-side strong roll to get back up - this saves a lot of wet exits in the future and really works that one roll toward being totally bomb proof.
I know a pool that is over my head deep. It’s flat, slow moving, and very short. The tail out becomes shallow again very quickly. I’ll wear my helmet and PFD as well, just to have as much protection as I can manage. I was actually sort of surprised almost everyone at the clinic wasn’t wearing a helmet and PFD. It was only a shallow lake and there were plenty of people in the water and on the dock that are capable of rescuing someone in trouble, it still seems wise to me to practice how you’re going to play.

I want to get my roll so I can go out on the river with others and really start learning. Drowning before I get won’t get me out on the river though.

What Peter-CA said. I second that.

Set up a video camera on tripod to video yourself,. Then you can look at it afterward and see what you were doing right and wrong. great teaching aid. You can compare it against people who have good rolls to see how you compare.

Seems to be a little thing but You are not practicing rolling. You are trying to learn to roll. There is a difference. Find a shallow area that just floats the kayak, Don’t get bad habits without an instructor. Get in the kayak in a very shallow spot and lay down as in a balance brace,{head toward the beach and back touching the bottom, 6 inches of water} then just practice moving the kayak from being upright to being on it’s side rotating the kayak with your hips.

Just practice controlling the rotation, Don’t practice rolling …you need to learn to roll before you can do any practicing rolling. You however can practice kayak control…it will help with the lesson on Wed. {bad habits are very difficult to break} {practice kayak control on both sides equally}

Best Wishes
Roy

from the Balance brace position , you can also practice gliding onto the rear deck. {from having back on the sand as mentioned in the prior post. This is the end of a roll. all rolls either are successful at this point or they don’t make it. practice in a safe low energy use style/ method.

Best Wishes
Roy

seems like this site doesn’t allow long posts…or doesn’t post if a person makes two posts in a row…or something

You will need a watchful eye by a dedicated instructor to work thru the transition from side to side…but your time will be well spent working on body /boat connection. All rolls , whether WW or Greenland , take the same spacial understanding and in the end are all just formed by methods of kayak / body/blade control.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o7lR5E4Oi4&t=1s

I envy people who can do a balance brace, which neither my spine nor my seat/cockpit configuration permit. As a result I do a sweep roll, without hip snap, which is mostly but not completely reliable. If I can do 4 or 5 rolls without having to wet exit I am happy. I practice alone in calm conditions, inside the bay, in the summer, over a shallow sandy bottom. Better than not practicing at all.

Depends on your learning style and your sense of body awareness. (Folks with yoga, gymnastics, dance and martial arts backgrounds are more likely to have good body awareness.) Folks with undeveloped sense of body awareness should probably not self practice to avoid ingraining bad habits. Better to have folks be able to spot and give feedback on what you are actually doing, rather than what you think you are doing. Takes more to unlearn bad habits than to learn good habits sometimes.

sing

self taught roller and mostly solo paddler

I think practicing rolling alone is fine, once you have acquired a roll that is reasonably reliable. If you are wet exiting as often as you are successfully rolling up, then you would probably benefit from an experienced helper/observer. Once you have a fairly reliable roll on one side, you can start to work on a roll on the opposite side, knowing you can switch over and roll up on your strong side if you miss a roll on the other.

I would recommend practicing so long as you are coming up easily and your roll feels natural. Once you miss a roll or two, stop. This will avoid developing bad habits and reduce the likelihood of an injury resulting from trying to muscle your way up.

Everyone else’s answers cover things well. The only thing I might add is what I found to be very useful back when my rolling was hit ‘n’ miss. I always wear a tow belt with pigtail. Say what you want of the necessity, but this tip doesn’t make sense without one.

As was pointed out a few times, having to wet exit and reenter every time you can’t roll up is tiring, not to mention somewhat stressful (was for me at least). It’s a great way to get a bombproof reentry though. :slight_smile: So, what I did was attach my inflated paddle float to my pigtail. That way when I couldn’t roll up, I would just reach for where the pigtail was attached to me, follow it out with my hand, and extend it out to the side to provide support to right the boat. Be careful of your shoulder position when doing this! You CAN hurt yourself if you grab the float and yank on it with your shoulder joint in a susceptible position.

It also serves as a good practice aid for rolling itself. Look up YouTube videos that show using a float this way.

What really got my roll going though was to have an assistant take video during practice sessions. I would then watch frame-by-frame on my computer later and compare it to other videos I found that looked like effortless rolling. Soon there were little things I could start picking out and adjusting in the next session. My assistant had also watched some of the videos and was able to notice when I was doing some things right or wrong. I still like to go back and watch some my earlier practicing compared to what I do now.

I still don’t have a great off-side roll, but recently this same assistant was able to watch me roll on the side that’s effortless and compare it to the side I was having trouble. Together we were able to isolate it to a head positioning issue. I suspected something like this myself, as when I roll on my “good” side I keep my ball cap on, but on the other side I’d always lose it. But I couldn’t seem to work out exactly what the problem was without a set of eyes above water. Now I can at least practice on that side with reasonable expectation of surfacing on the first attempt.

If you aren’t too shy, you might consider posting some of your practice videos here for feedback. The only problem is that you’re going to receive both good and bad advice and you may not know how to differentiate between the two.

If you miss more rolls than you hit, you may be practicing the wrong thing without any feedback (other than success or not) to help you improve. In any event, a common approach that you may find helpful is to attach a partly inflated paddle float to the end of your paddle and practice the latter part of the roll (i.e., go over on the right, sliding your torso off the rear deck and quietly into the water, schemer paddle across the water till it’s parallel with your boat, keeping torso flat on the water, then reverse to come back up). Maybe play around a bit to see how your body is best positioned to keep your kayak from wanting to quickly flip completely upside down. Adjust amount of air in float to the minimum needed to allow you to not sink and to come back up from a half inverted position.

I taught myself to roll, alone, with some sporadic and unsuccessful practice around non-instructors. I started with a paddle float roll and just kept doing that until it became second nature. I knew I wouldn’t have to exit the boat, because its pretty well impossible to miss a paddle float roll. I would concentrate on the sweep, letting it pull me up, rather than pulling down on the float to get up. Then I would try to roll without it. When I failed, which I did many times, I would use the float to reenter, pump the boat out, and try again. I don’t know how many times I did this, probably hundreds. The first time I succeeded I was so excited I put the kayak on top of the car and drove away without tying it down. Fortunately I remembered before I had gone a couple hundred feet. It wasnt until I switched to a greenland padle that I started nailing my rolls consistantly.

I, too, taught myself to roll, but along with that came a few bad habits that I had to unlearn.

Here is the nub of it. Rolling is nothing more than, positioning yourself and getting the boat under your bottom followed by a brace of some sort. Sure, there are other technical elements, such as head/body position, etc. but rolling is most easily done with a hip snap that plants the boat under one’s bottom.

A strong hip snap toward the bottom of whatever water you are in effectively arches ones torso to the side of the roll (the caveat being that not all have the flexibility to do this well). If done properly, the boat is at a point where you can feel yourself being buoyed up by its flotation. This is followed by some type of extended brace (usually high, but low braces work as well), but the brace of choice is what gives each roll it’s name. If all that can be visualized, providing sufficient bracing is not all that difficult.

If done with less than perfect style, recovery can be made with a decent skull to complete the roll. Thus, technique is more important than strength and certain hulls are easier to roll than others.

Hopefully, now the concept is clear, let’s take a look at general technical issues. Keeping the head low and back (or low and forward) is fairly important. The higher the head is, the higher the center of gravity. Keeping the head low makes rolling considerably easier, so the torso is leaning backward or forward, or, as in my case, transitions from forward leaning to backward leaning without stopping in a vertical position.

So, the steps are: position the body (leaning forward or backward, as per the type of roll). Snap the hip to put the boat under the bottom. Begin the brace of choice and avoid spending time in a vertical position to minimize the center of gravity.

A lot of this can be done BEFORE the roll starts. Lean appropriately (forward or back) and stop. Plant the blade where you want it, and stop. Think about the brace for a few seconds snap the hips and then start the brace. You have lots of time to do this, even though nerves make it seem as if you do not. Being calm and methodical makes this considerably easier. Wearing goggles enables novices to be calmer and see what they are/are not doing wrong. Lots of people have trouble with the roll because they are rushing through it. Take your time. Think about what you are doing, and do it properly to get the best results.

As for rolling practice alone, it is fine to do, especially once you have a decent roll. A novice practicing alone without someone to watch the process leaves the paddler to deduce what failed in the roll. You may do it well and succeed, or you may do one tiny part of the process wrong and not be able to determine the error.