Roll frustration

I thought I had more or less learned to roll last weekend.

I went out this evening to pracitice some more and didn’t even come close. Didn’t do a thing right.


Keep at it
Took me lots of time to get a reliable roll. Just think of all the reentry training you are getting.

Keep your head down
I don’t know if this is your problem, but it is probably the most common problem, and was my problem. I had the same experience as you. My solution was to work with the extended paddle (pawlata sweep roll) and concentrate on effortless rolls, and keeping that head down. After working with the extended paddle for a while, go back to the standard paddle grip, and see if it helped, it did for me. It’s all in proper form/technique. Rolls should be effortless, and with proper body positioning throughout the roll, they will be.

Hip snap and head up last.

Same happened to me. I’m new to
rolling as well. Listen to all the advise and try not to use too much muscle. You will hurt your shoulder. Remember, some people do this with only their hands! If done with correct form not alot of paddle is needed. I say this from experience, less muscle and more technique is the way to go. My form still needs alot of work. But, thats half the fun!

Yup. Head Down
the biggest reason for rolling failure with beginning rollers is bringing the head up too soon. Follow the sweep of the blade with your vision and when you begin to brace off that paddle to come up, think as if though you’re pressing the blade down with your vision/head. This serves to keep your head down. When you come up, you should still be looking over your shoulder at your active blade in the water. Maintain that pose, of admiring the blade in the water, for a couple of seconds to let the boat stabilize.


I’ve just gone through the same thing
Once you hit your first successful roll, you assume the rest will be successful after that. Not so…you will have good days and bad ones. Eventually the good ones will begin to outnumber the bad ones and things become more second nature. It just doesn’t happen overnight (at least it didn’t for me).

If you’re having an “off” day, walk (paddle) away and come back later, rested.

Not only can it be done with your hands, it can be done with just body rotation. Technique is everything in rolling.

Go to:

and click on the “Straightjacket roll” video. Then visualize yourself using that body rotation with a paddle.


Hand rolls are easy
when we are teaching people to roll andthey insist on pulling down on their paddle, I will often demonstrate a few handrolls to prove its all in your hips and head.

If in doubt, head down and hipsnap hard.

Relax, it’s normal
Most people I know - myself included - learned to roll, then lost it for a bit. This is due to developing bad habits and not practicing enough. Concentrate on the fundamentals and you’ll get it back. The good news is that once that happens, you’ll probably have a reliable roll for life.

Kent ford’s "the kayak roll"
dvd has helped quite a few of us. All the advice you have gotten is good. Perhpas a tune up lesso fron a pro if available. Or fron a very good paddler if not.

Stay with it. Try to lock it in before any winter hiatus from paddling.

break it down
When my roll goes bad, it’s usually because I’ve gotten sloppy with my setup position.

Sweep out – don’t pull down. Watching the blade helps.

Remember that you are NOT trying to lift your body out of the water. You are trying to tuck the boat back under you.

It happened to me too
I took a class and learned the c-to-c roll, I didn’t practice for a while and totally lost it.

It was frustrating, I thought I was doing everything right but……… nothing, I blew about 50% of the attempts.

I purchased a very good video (1st roll / Jay Babina), followed the simple method/instructions and now I can roll again.

I don’t do any fancy rolls, just the basic greenland/layback roll but I love it.

I might be wrong but I think I now have a reliable roll because it feels really effortless, no hard hip-snaps are necessary. Last Sunday I rolled about 20 times with zero wet exits and I wasn’t tired at all.

But I’ll keep practicing, I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

A second to Kent’s video
A good investment.


An good study in form, however, the stern deck of the kayak in those competition rolling videos was nearly submerged in a normal up right position…in other words, I wonder if it was made especially for rolling and not necessarily for normal touring. I wonder if those guys could roll a partially loaded QCC using the same techniques.

Loaded heavy boats are generally
easier to roll.

The center of gravity is lower and you do not have to overcome how high an empty boat sits out of the water.

And when did you learn to roll well enough to critique others who can?

Rolling boats
This particular boat was built for rolling. I’ve paddled it, and it’s only about 4.5 inches deep behind the cockpit. I found hand rolls to be super easy in it.

However, I know a guy who did the same roll on both sides in the Greenland national championships last month in a Feathercraft Kahuna — he even amazed the Greenlanders with his ability.

My original point was that if you try to emulate the body rotation in the harder rolls, the easy ones will become even easier.


Thanks for all the advice
I think my initial problem was that my hip snap refused to fire. This of course leads to me just trying to muscle my up, which of course doesn’t work.

lost it
Looseing your roll is part of the learning proccess. Don’t get frustrated just keep practiceing with some structure. By this I mean each time you go to practice rolls you should have definite goals that your working on. Watching a rolling video can give you some great tools. When I practice rolls I first start out rolling with an extended paddle and then as I feel my technique getting better I start to shorten the paddle extention. I know my technique is getting better when I’m not putting much pressure on the paddle. One thing that I work on is getting my head as close to the surface as possible before starting the roll and then keeping my head at the surface of the water throughout the roll until it is dragged out last.

It’ll come
I am told… I had it briefly at the end of the season before last then lost it. Apparently what I had was a set of learned responses that worked as long as everything happenned to occur exactly right, but weren’t well enough establshed to be available when I went back by myself and found myself thinking more about what I was doing. Or had to correct problems.

I have been “thinking” about it since then, so have crawled back up to almost getting up a lot (very very little weight on the assisiting bow of the boat or teacher’s hands). But still not “it”.

However, I can wet re-enter and roll up with a paddle float (most times) on the blade, so what I have now actually does give me some additional self-rescue options even without having a full roll.

No work is ever lost - it’ll happen if you stay at it, just a matter of when. (Even for me.)