Roll Advice

-- Last Updated: May-28-06 7:12 PM EST --

I'm beginning to develop a fairly reliable roll and I was wondering is it a more efficient use of time to continue to bombproof my onside roll or should I work the offside until I'm more ambidextrous then try to improve both?
How important is an offside roll?

one more tip
Don’t worry about rolling up. worry about learning proper rolling mechanics!!

If you want to dependably
be able to roll up when you are in conditions that you might get fliiped over in then you need a reliable roll on both sides. Once you have a dependable rool on your onside then I would start working on the offside roll. By learning your offside it will teach you better technique for your onside roll. Your objective every time you practice rolling should be to get better technique in some part of your roll. One day you won’t have an offside, both sides will your onside.

not to beat a dead horse
If you don’t label yourself with oneside and offside then you automatically have 2 onsides. Avoid using right or left handed rolling too, it creates the same self-limiting perception.

Personal Experience

– Last Updated: May-29-06 10:48 AM EST –

As above, there are many opinions on this one. It really does depend on the paddler and the environment a bit - some people (like me) find that their off side is really, really off. It feels like you just inherited a whole different body. I had to spend a long time just doing hip snaps on my off side before I was capable of making it do anything else. I've seen other people who can convert to a full roll on their second side in the space of 2 or 3 sessions.

Your paddling environment matters too, as far as how important it is. I've known highly advanced paddlers who told me that though they have both sides, they don't think they've ever used the second in the real thing. They cross under the boat and go to their primary side. But the folks who have told me that tend to not be surf nuts.

Personally, I had the experience last fall of exiting the boat because I was in current and didn't have a roll on downstream side. I just couldn't get to a useful position on the upstream of the boat because of the current and didn't have the other side online. It all got very complicated and embarrasing and I entered this winter's pool sessions with two resolves. One was to really get an offside roll, the other was to get the mindset to do better at overcoming surprises and staying in the frigging boat. From what I can tell so far this season, I've made some progress.
I would suggest that, until you have a reliable roll or scull up - in garden variety big water either is as good - on both sides, practice flipping over out of a setup position on the offside and crossing under the boat to come up on the other. That should take care of a lot of the likely paddling scenarios, and will give you some confidence should you flip on either side.

every paddler who rolls either has a great 2 sided roll or wish they did or is a liar.

conditions dictate which side is BEST and/ or successful.


I neglected my offside roll
for several years and regretted it because when I started training on the offside it was a challenge to get it as reliable as the “good” side. Last year on a surf landing I had to do my first honest to goodness combat roll and guess what,it was on my offside but I came up just fine.Fifteen seconds later I had to come up on my onside and it was still pretty easy and very satisfying.

I would recommend learning both sides from the beginning,it probably is easier in the long run.


First of all I am a strange one as my on side roll is capsizing to the right and coming up on the left and I am right handed. go figure.

I got three or four rolls down including the butterfly roll down before I even attempted to do an offside roll and I am paying for it now. While I can do pretty much every roll including a norsaq roll in the Skin on Frame on either side, the real challenge comes when trying to do all this in the OI. And lets face it, if I am going to be out in conditions it will not be in a cheater rolling boat.

So I can get up on either side, especially with a butterfly or a standard roll but I am working on more. this wil only come when I successfuly get my balance braces down in the OI on both sides. After that it is cake.


You are a prime example…
of why the terms onside, offside, right-handed, and left-handed are moot when it comes to rolling.


Your writing sounds familiar - and your advise fit’s well with my understanding of the current “best practices”. Do we know each other by some chance?

Is the term bi-lateral symmetry ? I understand the idea and process but I’m sure there’s a technical term for this style of motor-skills development.



I wonder…
I have had some e-mails some time ago with Jed, but I do not know who downeastkayaker is, but I think we would get along well…

Not asked for, but here is my thoughts.

Bi-lateral transfer may only be slightly operative in this case. An understanding of the theory is that learning one side will assist learning the other side- but no time issue is indicated.

That is, if one has a successful roll, learning the other side should be easier to learn becuase of that. But there is no demand on time, that is, learning the other side should be easier wether it is attempted soon or much later.

What may be critical is that bi-lateral transfer is noted mostly in acquisition. And methods that lead to rapid motor skill acquisition are not necessarily positive in regards to skill retention.

What may be of greater use in this area is variability, especially a subset of that termed contextual interference.

I could go on, but maybe this might be stimulating-

Kinda tells a lot…

But one of my favorites is the following, and it it more telling in some ways-,%202004).pdf

If read correct, it implies a lot. A roll is an open skill, ie, it is applied in a constantly changing environmet. A combat roll, that is, not a pool roll. And it makes sense that practice conditions should emulate the real conditions. But this study implies that motor skills that are closed, as example a forward stroke in flat conditions (non-varying conditions), would still benefit in teaching by varying the conditions of practice.

The more I teach kayaking, the more I seem to improve as a kayaker…