Rolling Drills?

I’m in withdrawal right now because I’ve gotten used to twice weekly pool sessions, and now the pool is closed for holiday break. I’m having a lot of fun really working on my roll, and now have my onside at nearly 100%. Some drills I’ve started doing are to do braces on each side of the boat, dipping my face each time, and then I’ll let myself miss a brace to then go into a roll. I’ve also let myself go over with the paddle over my head, or only in one hand, etc.

What I’m wondering is, what other practice drills could I do in the pool to help bombproof my roll? We’re having what’s said to be the worse drought here in 65 years, so it’s not looking like I’ll be able to practice my roll in any real combat conditions anytime soon. Last year this time I couldn’t go on all the river trips so much was running. And last year I was swimming in a farmer john, with no roll. Wouldn’t you know I get a drysuit AND a roll, and there’s no water!!!

Anyway – please share any ideas for practicing in the pool. Thanks!

some will argue
That pool sessions aren’t really much help unless your practicing in real rough water conditions. I believe this, but pool sessions can assist you in really driving home muscle memory for developing a bombproof roll…IMO. As with any practical training exercise, you train for the “real thing,” but quite often, we cannot completely match those conditions in a training environment. But that’s where repetition comes into play, and with that, muscle memory should develop that will undoubtedly be applied when you really need it.

I think capsizing in a variety of positions (like you already are) will really help. Maybe you can try a few different scenarios…like, capsize with one end of your paddle (to simulate a broken shaft) and roll up with one blade. Or store it on your deck, and capsize without a paddle, pulling one blade off your deck while underwater and rolling up.

Practice a ton of re-entries and roll. Try capsizing sprinting both forward and backward and rolling up.

Also, (depending on what roll you use) for a C to C roll…capsize and don’t go into a step up…push your blade directly toward the surface or 90 degrees and roll up.

And, try sculling up from a capsize…then, what about hand rolls???


Rat swim to your paddle and roll up
That exercise and others are from Derek Hutchinson’s book “Eskimo rollling” just throw the paddle a few feet on one side or the other swim your boat to it and roll up. Sprint, then do the exercise above. Think of other nasty things you can do.

lot’s to practice…
Obviously start working on your offside and learn as many different rolls as you can (sweep, c-to-c, reverse sweep, backdeck rolls, hand rolls, etc.)

Throw the paddle away from the boat, swim to it while in the boat, grab the paddle, and roll up. Practice multiple rolls with a single breath. Breath out and then do a couple rolls. Roll with an upside down paddle. Roll with a single upside down paddle. Roll with a paddle float. Roll with a kick board. Capsize in awkward positions and have a buddy shake your kayak around until you roll up. Roll with a person hanging on your kayak. The list goes on and on. Although you’ll never get a bombproof roll in a pool, you can dial in your form to the point where you’re really ready to test your roll in real life conditions.

Re-enter and roll.
Just in case a roll fails for various reasons. Also, if you ever have to exit the boat (for some unforseen reason) you will be able to get back in and roll up.

Lose the RPM (temporarily)
That is one of the easiest boats to roll and the most notorious for teaching bad habits. If there is someone else in the pool sessions who has a planing hull boat with higher flat sides that fits you, borrow their boat. You may be surprised how weak your hip snap is. And the importance of timing will be evident. The suggestions of others above are fine but are really not that central to a really strong roll. I have a good friend who could roll her RPM easily but could not roll her Nordkapp. She can now, but only after a struggle and lots of practice in the Nordkapp.

Have Your Spotter
grab your bow or stern and push it down and pull it up to sort of simulate sloppy water.


oops - time to update my profile!

– Last Updated: Dec-20-05 10:05 PM EST –

Actually that RPM is long gone. I'm in a Riot Booster. And yes - it was like relearning to roll all over again when I switched! I can roll my Booster pretty easily now - meaning it doesn't take a lot of physical effort, but it did take me quite awhile to re-tune my set up with those high sides. Unlike the RPM, the Booster is NOT a forgiving boat. I feel that my technique, posture and timing have to be right on to roll that boat. I've tried other boats at the pool, and I can very easily roll yaks like the Diesel or Mamba, even with outfitting that's too loose on me. With my Booster, I have my outfitting built up to fit me like a glove - and feel I need that kind of outfitting to be successful.

I still am dubious that I'll be able to hand roll my Booster, although I think there are kayaks I could learn to hand roll. Not that I'm not going to try, I'm just saying for me at least, it's not the easiest boat to roll. Of course, on the plus side, I think it has forced me to finally learn VERY good technique.

Thanks for all the ideas! I cannot wait to get back in the water to keep practicing! I realize there's no such thing as attaining a bombproof roll in a pool, but I want to get the most out of my practice sessions so that I'm that much closer to having a combat roll when (if!?!) it ever starts raining here again.

*** Okay - profile updated. Wow - I had the wrong state, the wrong boat, and hadn't even checked whitewater! I'm all up to date now!!! ***

I also have a Booster and so does my wife. For me, the Booster is my “go to” boat. I can roll it easily and find it is a great down river boat. I never worry when I am in the Booster. Don’t know what to make of that except that different boats work better for different folks. Good luck with your roll.

Learning how to do as many
different rolls as you can. Keep trying new rolls until they become natural. Rear, side and forward finishing rolls will give you many challenges. Use different types of paddles when you want more variation. I have found that the more rolls I learn that when I need to roll in a combat situation I can roll up from almost any position without thinking or setting up for a roll. Sounds like your off to good start.

Oh - I love the Booster on the water - it’s comfortable, I feel it’s predictable, I just really like paddling it. That’s why I was also determined to roll it and not get another easier to roll boat. I guess it can be very individual. I’ve heard it (or read it) by many that find the Booster easy to roll. Well - check back with me in a year, and maybe I’ll say that, too! Like I said, it is easy for me to roll now, but I’m not sure I could have learned to roll in it. I’m sure others could, but for me I needed the confidence from having rolled the RPM first (reminiscent of ideas from the “double edge sword” thread). I’m not the most flexible, and I think I do have a shorter torso relative to my height, so those could contributing factors, as well.

Oh - okay: one thing about the Booster, is I do find it very hard to get in it (or out of it) gracefully in deep water, like if there’s not an easy to beach spot on the river, because of that super small cockpit. I think I’ll learn every roll in the book before I’ll learn to balance well enough to get out of my boat on the side of the pool! I dunno - maybe I would have that problem in any boat, but not being able to raise my knees up while sitting in the boat seems to make it very hard!

Offside Roll First.
agree with that suggestion before thinking of other things to challenge yourself.

Now, that you have a good onside, try to do the offside roll. If you blow that, than go to the strong side and then roll up. You have a backup now for working the offside.


Second sing’s suggestion
Use your on-side roll as a fall back while working on your off-side roll!

It automatically forces you to start your roll when your paddle is NOT in the setup position. AND almost out of breath!

I’ve had my on-side roll for some times but hadn’t flipped for a while. So I developed a nagging suspicion that I may or may not be able to roll up when in “combat” situations. That’s when I got this idea that I’ll work on my off-side roll until I was toatlly out of breath. THEN try to get up on my on-side. I did, consistantly.

When I dropped into the flooded Deerfield this past October, I had my chance to roll “in combat” when I got flipped by two fast converging currents. When I went over, my paddle ended up on the off-side, which I hadn’t quite master the roll yet. But I’ve praticed hundreds times to switch the paddle around to my on-side, setup without much hurrying (knowing full well I can hold my breath for a while even though I “felt” I was short on breath). I rolled up, just like I praticed in the pool!

What was illuminating was the observation from my paddling buddies. They said I looked perfectly composed, took my time setting up before attempting the roll. For a first combat roll, that was better than what I had hoped for.

A Cool Rescue
Ok, you’re upside down and you tap on your hull for help. I come over and put the tip of my paddle blade in your hand. You pull the blade to the top (bottom) of your hull. I put the other blade on the deck of my boat. You grab the paddle shaft and pull yourself upright.


– Last Updated: Dec-21-05 7:04 PM EST –

if there isn't enough room between the boats or they get pushed together while you are rolling neck still remembers that feeling and the sound....This is a dangerous rescue for some of us....

more fun to paddle up to someone and place your paddle across their boat , hold the end towards you, up and roll over untill your paddle in on the bottom of your boat and their deck, then roll up...leave yourself plenty of room between the boats and do it only on calm water where you won't get thrust together by waves, as you come up....

Another variation.
Put the blade of your paddle over his hull and the other over your deck. Grab his wrist that he is waiving back and forth and place it on the paddle shaft. He can then hip flick up.

Doing it this way, you can be parallel to him and your boat will stop by your grabbing his wrist. Works very well in rough textured water.


– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 7:23 AM EST –

Done it this's how I smacked my head on the side or the other boats side when comming up...I'm just mentioning to be carefull with this rescue, even in practice If the boats are parralel with the bows a bit towards each other and the sterns a little farther apart, there is usually a good chance that you wont contact the other boat with your (my) head..just be really throws off the balance to smack into the other boats side with the head....

Best Wishes

I thought that this rescue was no longer being taught(for the last couple of years), because of this possiability (even tho it is fun to do)

Nice Assist Rescue
but it won’t happen much, if at all, for PaddleLupe… She’s a white water paddler.

Roll, baby, roll… a basic but necessary skill for white water folks.


Thanks to everyone for offering ideas. Yes - I’m talking whitewater, but it’s still a nice list to have even if some are more for sea kayaks. I do have a sea kayak too and improving my skills in that boat is a longterm goal because there are some seakayak trips that are dream goals of mine. But somehow whitewater has come along and rather become my obsession for now!

In addition to some of the creative ways to challenge myself with my roll that were offered here, I think my big goal come Jan 2006 when the pool opens again will be to start working on the offside, as many of you suggested. You know how some people are ambidextrous? I swear I am the opposite of ambidextrous if there is such a thing, so I admit to be a little daunted about the offside roll. On the other hand, I actually feel my offside brace is stronger than my onside brace, so maybe it won’t be so bad after all!

Thanks again everyone, and cheers to the New Year…!

Work It.
I am a righty and learned to roll on the right side first. I’ve reported this before, I then worked my (left) offside so much that it became my “onside” in that I instinctively go to the left in a capsize. It’s only when I am impeded on the left side that I will conciously switch over to the right side.