Rollin.. not quite rolling

I have posted this before but its been a while. Does anyone know of any rolling instruction that is near Western PA?
I finally got out to try again and no joy. Not even a glimmer at the time of “hey that was close” I hit 20 ya’ll tubes and I think I am to loose in the boat, and picked my head up. I was definitely engaging the thigh. I have a bruise and a knot 6 inches above the knee.

Picked my head up equals kiss of death JUST DON,T DO THAT…

Something strange we humans like breathing air.

What oh what is going on that is causing you to lift your head? That is why you need an rolling instructor/guide/friendly helper. Good that you are asking for help. Check out the ACA website and look for any Level 4 river or coast kayak instructor. Some Level 3 or 2 instructors are good also if they have a rolling endorsement.

Check out the Three Rivers Paddling Club centered in Pittsburgh.

You don’t want to be practicing bad habits. Wish I could help with info on a local instructor. I’m not one. A couple suggestions that helped me to do a lay back roll.

For not lifting your head…point your chin at the sky and keep it there during the sweep. Wear a nose plug.

I had a tendency I didn’t even realize I was doing. It was lifting my arm that was coming next to the boat as I did the sweep. This made the paddle dive rather than stay at the surface.

To help with a hip snap you can add a paddle float on each end of your paddle and lay out to the side in the balance brace with the paddle extended like in a butterfly roll. Your head will stay above water. In this position you can get the feel of the roll without going under water

Your kayak will be on its side. You can now bring it over on top of you and practice bring it back up to its side with a hip snap/knee drive as you rotate toward the kayak as in a roll. you can do this back and forth with your head above water. But try and not pull down on the paddle or left your head as you do this.

It gets tiring fast if you have to come out of the boat after each failed roll. It helps a lot if you just have someone stand by to offer a hand when you slap the side of the boat for you to pull yourself back up without having to come out of the boat.

By far I think most people do best with an instructor.


I left out what cured my diving paddle was the suggestion to put the offending arms elbow against my side like it was glued in place, and just like the chin leave it there.

I don’t know if any of these suggestions will be helpful for you. The chin and arm were problems for me.

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To help with a hip snap you can add a paddle float on each end of your paddle and lay out to the side in the balance brace with the paddle extended like in a butterfly roll. Your head will stay above water. In this position you can get the feel of the roll without going under water

In theory. I tried a single paddle float and slid off the back deck into the balance position and sunk. That was the original plan though. The PFD is a pretty good one, but I am not the best floater. Float is a NRS 2 chamber. Unless I am doing something real wrong, which is possible.
I know I was loose in the boat. Had people around, no one I was comfortable relying on.
If I can get out again I will give it a shot with everything tight and ignore the paddle float, tighten up the fit, get 90deg, and see if I can get the timing right, stick the ear on the shoulder… I think a set of goggles would help.

Best of luck. I had to use two floats to play with that as one didn’t work.

I’ve got to see this roll. The last one I saw was 180°

Are you in a short or long boat? If it’s not a short, whitewater type boat you might consider using a Greenland paddle. My roll took off when I switched to a GP.
Once you learn how to scull with the GP… get that bite/purchase as you move it back and forth… it doesn’t much matter what you do with your head as you come up.

When you’re under the water, before you start your sweep, bring your head as close to the surface as possible. Think of yourself as a spring. Set the spring while you’re under and release the spring to come up. Bring the boat up with your knee. Good luck.

Re the balance brace, some people just have too high a proportion of body out of the boat to make it easy. Reason that women often have an easier time.

As to tips, back of head into the water looking up at the sky and as rotated as you can get. Trick l need these days as less flexible is to grab the deck line on the water side to hpold the twist. Did not need to do that when l was younger.


You may be too loose in your kayak. Do you have hip pads? If not, get some. If you do and you’re still too loose side to side, get some foam hip pad shims and add them until the hip pads fit comfortably snug. Make sure you position them correctly too. Also pull your foot pegs back toward you so that your knees are bent and are keeping contact with your thigh braces. Don’t have your feet flat on them, just the balls of your feet with your heels toward each other. Adjust your backband so you are upright with good support, can’t slide backward, but have the flexibility to lean back and to turn your torso. You want to feel “locked into” your kayak, but not so much that you would struggle to move or get out.

Try using a paddle float as mentioned above. Just be careful though, because while it will help you learn the movements, it can aslo result in learning bad habits, like pulling the paddle blade down towards you because you try to pull yourself up on it. Sweep out, don’t pull down, and while keeping your elbow against you bring your support hand to your chest. Pushing that hand out drives your paddle blade straight down.

Wear a snorkeling mask or swim goggles so you can watch your paddle blade. Keeping your eyes on your paddle blade will keep your head down. You will also be able to verify that you’re keeping a climbing angle on your blade as you’re sweeping it out. And it isn’t so much keeping your chin down as it is making sure your head is the last thing to come out of the water. Watching your paddle blade, keeping your ear against your shoulder, both work. Also, get nose plugs if your mask or goggles doesn’t cover your nose.

Practice your hip snap while in your kayak on land before going into the water. This will help you get the movement and also warm up and stretch the muscles without you having to swim and dump out every time. You can adjust your outfitting however you need to from here too.

Make sure you’re doing the hip snap correctly. While sweeping your paddle blade, lift your low side knee against the brace while pushing down against the foot peg with your high side. Again, practice on dry land to get it down before going in the water, and practice the whole movement from setup position through the sweep and hip snap. Do it slowly first, then pick up the speed. If you don’t want to use your paddle for the dry land practice, cut a piece of 1 to 1 1/4 inch PVC pipe to the length of your paddle and use that.

When in the water practicing, make sure you get into your setup position with the paddle parallel to the side of your kayak. Push it to the surface and pause for a moment to let all of the movement of your kayak stop, then proceed with your roll.

You can do this!

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Hips OK, pegs way to loose. Mask or goggles seems like a great idea. Being human, if we can see what is going on life is better.
Ya know, that description of the hip snap made sense. The wife is going to think I have lost it tonight after I get the grass cut, not to mention the dogs. The Lab assistant will make this interesting.

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Have you ever had Greenland style rolling instruction? Even if you favor regular blade paddles, the body positioning and less body-stressing moves of that sort of rolling can be easier to master, especially for those of us of a certain age. I’ve had one on one Greenland roll training but even before that found the instructions by trainer Paulo Oullet of “Dancing with the Sea” really useful, especially in body position awareness and connecting to the boat.

The technique that was used in the instruction I’ve had was to start by getting comfortable with the extended body brace (and coming back up from it) first, which conditions you to not bring the head and shoulders up too fast at the finish (and blow back over).

Paulo just released a new subscription video training series on flexibility conditioning and applying body position to successful rolling. I’m going to pop for it myself since I have found his coaching very helpful. Well produced video. Even if you don’t care to pay for the course, his intro bit has some good basic information. And just watching how effortlessly he paddles and rolls is inspiring.

3 Rivers Outdoors Company (our local indie outfitter in Regent Square, Pittsburgh, right off the Parkway East) has had regular rolling pool sessions and instruction through the year. I am working for them part time at the moment, mostly at their kayak and SUP rental livery that opened in June at the Aspinwall park and marina/dock on the Allegheny River just up from the Highland Park bridge and dam. They and Outkast Paddlers are sponsoring a paddling event all this coming weekend there. Doubt there will be rolling coaching (the Allegheny would not be my first choice for that anyway) but you could connect with resources while there for future options.

There is also an ACA instructor, Andrea Valliancourt, based near Buffalo, NY, who does weekend training sessions on Lake Erie. I took her intermediate open water course a few years ago. Usually $175 for two days of training.

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That’s a really good deal!

It is nearly one on one instruction too. There was just me and one other paddler the weekend I did the training, The drive to Evangola state park was only 3 hours and we met and camped overnight there Friday and Saturday and did the practice off the nearby beaches. Very nice campground, shady with good rest room and bath houses. You can even rent a furnished yurt if you reserve in time.

My only complaint is that she is very negative about Greenland style paddling and skills and kind of looked down her nose at my SOF and GP. I did also bring my “conventional” plastic sea kayak and Werner paddle with me for the class sessions but used the Greenland kit for a recreational paddle we did late Saturday down Cataraugus Creek into the big lake. But if you want coaching in conventional rolling and other standard blade techniques those are her wheelhouse.

Forgot to post the link to her website, Seabirds International:

My roll also took off when someone clued me in about bringing the boat upright with my knee / thigh. Maybe some folks can ‘snap’ up with their hip but many of us don’t. For us a better term would be “knee lift” or “thigh lift”.

Ok tried the dry land roll. Only problem was getting my head under the grass…

Picked up 1 notch on the pegs and snugged the back band.

On a slight incline I managed to go from having the boat rolled up on my left side to sitting up without hands or paddle. Took a few to stop cheating and coming up on the elbow. I eventually put both hands on the front of the coaming and came up.
After that I used a trash paddle in the grass and kinda managed to follow the turn of the boat. Not real sweepish, a lot more c to c but I felt it.