Rolling 360 vs. 0-180-0 all on one side

Serious question here, not trolling. Is there any real benefit to rolling a full 360? Is there that much momentum gained (still working on a reliable roll)? Or, is it just the machismo of “completing” the roll? The reason I ask is this: A few days ago, I was out practicing sculling and braces. I was able to set up and high brace regardless of where my paddle was to start. The furthest in I went was near 180 degrees (complete upside down), but I was getting that far in intentionally to test my limits. For instance, it seems to me it would be easier to setup for a right side recovery when capsizing on your right (left side is inboard, no need to move, right side is outboard, right blade just needs to be forward). It’s easier to orient your paddle in air than water and you’ve got more time to do so before that setup position is under water. You’re also more likely to recover in a high brace before going all the way in. The alternative is the classic setup on your right for a left side recovery with your paddle in along the right side of the boat and your body tucked in and following the paddle into the water. This setup position is submerged rather quickly whether you’re already in it or not. You’re also very committed to a roll; not much chance to brace out of it before going all the way in. Of course I’m practicing on flat water, but I’m trying to apply the logic to rough water conditions. I should also add that this is for long boat touring. I’m sure a combat roll in WW or surf would be better suited. Am I on to something, or am I all wet…please excuse the pun.


I used this technique to teach myself to
roll. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing 1/2 rolls to get yourself started. It is useful to do the full roll once you get better so that you get used to fully going 360 for the purposes of dealing with feeling disoriented.

There is an issue with momentum build up when doing hand rolls, but I think even that is negligible if you can do it, you can do it.

both fine
There are some advantages to the 360 degree roll. First one is that you truly have to learn some underwater paddle dexterity and learn setup positioning properly rather than setting up in the air and flopping over. The second is that in a wave or whitewater, when you get flipped, coming up on the same side as you flipped usually means you are fighting the forces of the water. If you do a full roll at that point, the current actually helps you roll up. The momentum issue really doesn’t make a difference with a paddle but in some of the hand rolls/elbow rolls, the momentum really is quite useful.

My take
And keep in mind I am farfrom an experienced roller. Others like Kwikle and Sing can provide better info.

Like I worked with you, I first learned high brace sculling to feel comfortable. That allowed me to realize I can always get to the surface for air and let me work on rolling technique. I progressed to “360 rolls” but I’m not sure about it being a momentum thing. I think it’s more of a set up thing for certain types of rolls (extended paddle and storm). If you think about it being momentum you are likely to speed things up to take advantage of that “kick” but you really need to let your body get past inverted and start to surface before you start to roll. Otherwise you start to early and don’t break the surface (of course then you resort to the sculling).

Having both positions (360 and 180 rolls) just adds to your bag of tools. Imagine being in the surf zone and getting tossed. If you can only do the 180 roll (high brace scull) then you only have a 50% chance of entering the water in the right position. Then you have to take the time to rotate into position, move the paddle, then come up. If you also have the 360 down, you have the option of just continuing on under the boat and rolling straight up. Skipping the first two steps may save you the extra couple seconds underwater.

Anyway just my take, and I am certainly not the most qualified.

Hope to see you on the water soon.


Getting disoriented…
… is the advantage of a 360 roll. IOW, it’s another way of training for combat.

But if you set up beforehand, it’s the mildest form of that. Try other stuff, including certainly various forms of non-setup, and this – toss your paddle in the air, capsize and catch it just as you go under, or retrieve it from the surface after. The unpredictability is good training.

Another – do a scull for support or a deep high brace, but fail (intentionally or because you don’t have it mastered). That puts you pretty far out of position for the setup for a roll. I got a lot of funky rolling practice that way while learning to scull.

Bottom line, when you are upside down, it doesn’t matter which side you came from. There’s no momentum that I can detect.


Drop the 360
Practicing by setting up and going fully around teaches you to go for the roll rather than the brace. If you want to practice rolling when you might be disoriented, hold your paddle straight over your head parallel to the water and flip over. You will now be hanging under your boat in some fashion. Then practice setting up on alternate sides. Also practice moving around, up and down, one side to the other, and paddle movement up, down, and sculling. Finally roll up. When you are secure with your roll, start rolling without a setup. Tip over as above and move your body and paddle up and centered as much as you need and roll from there. If you miss, then setup and roll.

I was taught years ago to brace and rol first without the paddle! The goal of all these techniques is body, boat, blade sense. That is the visceral memory and spatial orientation of these three aspects. This is what eventually allow one to, as folks say here, go over without warning from any position, to find one’s orientation under water, to have the “sense” of where one is, where one’s paddle is, and to slip it to wherever one needs to scull, then rotate, and brace up regardless of how you got there to begin with. This is kind of what BCU and likely others call “unconscious knoweldge”. Ways of getting there are all the things you are considering, just keep in mind they are only milestones along a path, not end points!

"Any Which Way…"
the more you do this, the more you will develop a combat roll. Once a roll is pretty consistent in practice, drop any kind of set up because in real conditions, you generally not able to set up before going over.

In ocean/lake paddle what may impeded you roll will be wind. In ww and surf (and tidal races), it will be current or water movement. However, in all these cases, if you wait a several seconds, you and boat will equalize with the water movement, or left behind by the wave, and can roll up from either direction.

When you’re used to paddle and rolling in current, you can then focus on feeling/sensing the water movement and using it to help you back up even more quickly and easily.


Roll is for when brace fails…
…in a “need to roll” sense. Stuff has a way of happening when you’re not in the best position to brace - and going 360 just gives another shot at it! Whether going all the way around, or 180 down + 180 up same side, it still = 360. If you capsize and are fully underwater - go to setup - and recover all on one side, it’s still a roll.

It may be easier for you to move the paddle around in the air, but I think being able to get it wherever you want it underwater is more useful. I love my GP for this.

If you can go to a full 180 vertical position - try switching which side you come up on randomly (assuming your brace/roll works on both sides - but if your deep brace is one sided - you will end up doing 360s). From any capsize position - you want to be able to go to any side recovery.

It’s all good.

The 360° thing may apply to rolling competition but that has little relevance to real world recovery needs. Some might say that a same-side roll is even more difficult because the roller is unable to use momentum to their advantage.

Bottom-line: Don’t sweat the details, just have fun developing a useful, versatile and reliable roll. The path you choose to accomplish this matters little. It’s the skill that is the ultimate reward not the process of acquisistion or the details of form / style.

Cheers, good luck!


I think it’s important to
practice coming up on the same side (i.e. 180 degrees), because it’s harder. But in real life, if you’re capsized by accident, it’s great if you can roll well on both sides, so that you can take advantage of the momentum of the capsize to fuel your roll. Since you want it to become automatic, that means you should also practice coming up on the side opposite from which you capsized (i.e. 360 degrees).

For what it’s worth, the Greenland rolling championships do not require 180 degree rolls–all the rolls are practiced and performed 360 degrees, presumably because this is how they’re most useful in real life.


Thanks to all.
I guess it does make a bunch more sense to treat a one-side roll as simply another tool in the kit rather than the dogmatic approach and saying “This is the better way”. Hind-sight always being 20/20, I was reading this thread last night when it occurred to me that it is far more important to be able to come up from where ever your body already is rather than being able to setup quickly. That’s why Greenlanders have so many recovery techniques.

When I’m comfortable with my sculling and bracing, I’ll hammer out my one-sided rolls and then progress to 360’s, then of course there’s the storm, chest sculling, the reverse sweeps…gotta love it.

Greenland Championship Rolls
FWIW, several of the techniques on the Greenland comp “rolling list” are performed with 180 degree recovery: side scull, chest scull, vertical sculling roll and the walrus pull.

It’s good to practice recovering on the same side as you capsized on, and a full roll. I usually perform a full roll but agree with others that having as many options in your “bag of tricks” is wise. As just one example, while touring – bouyancy, or excessive gear bags on deck can make a full capsize difficult, making it much easier to recover on the same side.

Greg Stamer

And thanks again!
Using the advice here, I went out tonight and was rolling, 180’s and 360’s both, on my off-side in an hour of play. The only time I exited was back on shore to dump excess water that had seeped in. I lost my on-side roll the end of last summer due to a little “Leathal Weapon” impression. I still fail to scull and roll consistantly on that side due to the mental obstacle, but when I failed, I could switch sides…under water, and come up on my off-side every time. Things always seem to make more sense when you’re doing them rather than studying them, eh? Thanks again titans, one and all!


Thanks for the correction,
Greg–I was overgeneralizing. What I meant to say was that most of the rolls that one would perform in an accidental capsize are demonstrated all the way 'round.


Off-Side, On-Side, Confused Side…

– Last Updated: Jun-10-05 5:10 AM EST –

These seem to switch for me, depending on the roll and what I have been doing recently to ingrain something beneficial or detrimental to a particular technique.

I went to do a flat water practice last night, for the first time this year. My "on-side" hand roll disappeared somehow during the winter and my off-side became the on-side last night since I didn't blow any. My backdeck rolls just morphed to consistency on both sides whereas last year only one side was consistent while the other was not. My previous "on-side" backdeck roll was the opposite side of my "on-side" (the roll I seem to go instinctively for whenever I go over) sweep roll. Somehow, I think having done nothing but surfed all winter, without doing any pool practices whatsoever this year, has ingrained some good and no-so-good stuff in my techniques. Got to get back to a once a week lake practice now that the weather is warmer and there is more sunlight for after work.


Roll vs. "back flop"
Depending on the circumstances, you may find that when you’re forcibly capsized for real, you can either roll with it or do a back flop and brace back up. IIRC, it was Greg Stamer that turned me on to the back flop techhique. Instead of tucking forward and rolling, you twist in the opposite direction so your back hits the water as flat as possible. This kills your rotation momentarily and prevents you from going under to any significant degree. From this position, you can either scull on the surface or brace back up. I’ve used this in some very rough water (4’-5’ confused chop in an inlet with the wind opposing the current and tide) and it’s amazing how effective it is. I was able to relax on the surface, even with the boat pitching considerably.

Back flopping isn’t practical in all circumstances and probably isn’t advisable in surf or when you’re being capsized to the side and forward, but it’s one more tool in your arsenal.

back flop
Of course the “back flop” is just a good old balance brace – one of the cornerstones of Greenland technique. It is the balance brace – finding a balance position between body and kayak (rather than thrashing with the paddle) that drives the Greenland side scull and opens up a door to a number of other techniques.

The balance brace also lets you get a satisfying stretch of your legs and lower back – even if miles from land.

As Brian mentions, the “back flop” recovery technique should be used with due awareness – and avoided if there are rocks/shallow obstructions and other hazards about.

Greg Stamer