Rolling - 360 or 180?

Nothing wrong with what you’re doing…
…you just have to continue to progress to doing full rolls. It sounds like you’ve done a good job of learning the necessary preparatory skills. Since you’re already doing the last half of a roll (the harder part), you just have to get the first half down.

180 vs. 360

– Last Updated: Sep-17-09 7:06 PM EST –

I think you mean rolling up on the capsize side rather then going around to the other side to roll up. This assumes you have an off-side roll. About 98% of all paddlers have an on-side or strong side roll and 98% of the time it will work perfectly in any conditions for sea kayaking. You may get knocked over by surf or an unexpected boat wake on the opposite side that you finish your roll on. So practice lowering yourself in the water on your off-side, pulling yourself under the boat to the other side and rolling up. The reality of that happening in surf like conditions are 50%. Capsizes are actually rare unless paddlers are playing in challenging conditions. Learning to pull yourself underwater to your roll-up side is your next step in learning as well as getting that paddle in position as well. As others said, you're on the right track and these things just take time to get down.

Many people start teaching a paddler to roll by lowering them in the water on their finishing side - it's easier and less confusing as you mention. However, learning to set up, and go all the way around to the other side covers the possibility of being in the water on either side in many ways even though a beginner can get confused.

I Agree

– Last Updated: Sep-17-09 9:09 PM EST –

with Bryan Nystrom, and I don't roll for competition either.

nothing about proficiency at rolling in all ways is a party trick....proficiency is proficiency

Best Wishes

Seems inconsistent
If your boat seems about to capsize you should first try to brace. Flopping on your back is really a procedure for bracing and seems fine to me. But if you teach yourself to immediately put your paddle in setup position when your boat seems about to capsize then you are teaching yourself not to brace. This is a point that EJ makes forcefully in his rolling video. You will roll more often then you need to and, especially in whitewater or rock gardens, rolling can be hazardous.


– Last Updated: Sep-18-09 12:20 PM EST –

I tend to go to my right, but when I was rolling my way down the Deerfield it was because I kept falling over on my left when it was the upstream side. So it was natural to go under the boat and for all but one of them the better side to come up on. That last was a bit of a muscle up, but mostly because WW boats tend to spin around after a capsize.

When I capsized in another run of current in a long boat, where I wasn't getting spun around like in a WW boat, I stayed on the downstream side. It would have been silly (and unproductive) to cross under against the current.

FWIW, I have ended up losing it and bailing a few times because I was wasting time and air trying to fight the water flow rather than feel its flow and go from there. One of those moments was when it really clicked that a one-sided roll was just an invitation to trouble.

tucked tight and rolling fast is the key…sometimes rocks to the sides, don’t allow proficient bracing…sometimes…it hits all wrong…and you just do what you have to…but none of that should stop a person from practicing rolling in every possiable way. and that also includes set up rolling and non set up rolling…don’t ignore any of it just because You haven’t been THERE yet.

in big lake or ocean ,extreme speed is sometimes a bad thing in rolling. slow relaxed rolling can conserve your energy, and energy gets you home…it’s not always about rivers and ROCKS.

the key is proficiency of rolling in your chosen environment for the day or week or year…

Best Wishes


Maybe you haven’t been there yet…
…but I’ve been in the position many times where it was instantly obvious that a brace would not be possible and in other situations where rolling was the safest thing to do. While I agree that bracing is better than rolling when it’s possible, trying to brace at all costs is a great way to get hurt. If I know I’m going to get hammered by a breaker, I’d much rather do it tucked low and tight to the boat than with my paddle stuck into the wave.

Not only that, coming up on the
downstream side often prevents water from piling up on your upstream side. In current, what helps me is to let the boat go flat as I’m setting up so that my first attempt will have less forces acting on it. I see a lot of hurried rolls where the boat wasn’t flat, eddy lines were hitting it or waves opposite the set up side, so usually a 2 count will suffice. Holes or big waves it’s easier to just paddle into the water pressure and roll up.

The only other advice I’d like to share is to have a second set of eyes on the learner. You reduce the risk of ingraining bad habits, assuming the coach is competent. I learn something everytime I do some tuneups with a another paddler. There are some good videos and books on the matter you could probably buy on this site. My favorite is EJ’s Rolling and Bracing and the Kayak Roll but I hear Jay’s First Roll is really good, too. Don’t beat yourself up if you swim. Stay positive.

yep and
any current or surf IMO skews your 98% figure quite a bit.


Rolling psychology
One thing I avoid like the plague when teaching someone to roll is the whole onside/offside thing, as even mentioning it implies that one side is going to be a problem. That’s the last thing anyone needs to be thinking when they’re learning to roll. I also emphasize learning a roll on one side, then immediately learning the same roll on the other side, and the importance of practicing both. It seems to me that 50% of problems people experience with learning to roll on both sides is psychological. The other 50% is due to feathered paddles. :wink:

Much ado about nothing

It’s seems curious to me how passionate people can get about this subject.

Isn’t it really about using whatever methods are most effective for you (as opposed to which method is “correct”)?


Yup. Go Play In The Rough Stuff…

– Last Updated: Sep-19-09 7:40 AM EST –

the more you do, you just do. All the talk becomes... "huh?" Rolling just happens, as with bracing.


Glad I was self taught. I don't think I went through so much of this intellectualizing about it.

There is no 'try’
only ‘do’.

You Want Practical Practice?
Go over with your paddle stowed wherever you stow your spare. Retrieve it and roll up with it. Onside and off.