Can anybody advise on a good kayak “rolling” video. I took a class a few days ago, but did not (along w/ 4 other students) find it very helpful. No one got a roll. SO, I want to try it on my own, or should I say, with the assistance from my wife. Other advice is welcome.


Another instructor is indicated
0 for four is pretty bad if this is supposed to be proessional instruction, so…

It does happen but it should be very rare. 50 50 is typical so striking out for the instructor of four should happen 1/16 times

Get Kent ford’s the kayak roll!.

It’s all about crunching those abdominals to get the groovy set up and (very antiintuitively) pushing the head down as the boat comes up. Just keep watching the paddle!

Don’t Be Discouraged
It was class #3 before I rolled. Ditto for a lot of other folks.

Yep same for me

– Last Updated: Nov-27-04 1:21 PM EST –

but I aways watched the others roll in class.

Sure… Don’t Give Up…
and check out whatever resource you can find – videos, books, training partners, etc. Even you hit the roll, it will take some time before the roll gets ingrained and then the offside roll to do the same.

I wouldn’t necessarily give up on the instructor either. I don’t know your experience level, but if you are at barely “wet behind the ears” paddling level as maybe the other students, there is alot to assimilate. Mostly the intellectual component will fight and undermine the physical component. Most folks find rolling very counterintuitive. In trying to overly think it out, they sometimes actually sabotage themselves.

Not to say this is you but I remember working with someone who I observed and told that his head was coming out first. A no-no. But the “intellectual” (ego) in this person kept insisting that he knew what he was doing and that he wasn’t coming up head first. Yeah, whatever… Mercy to professional instructors.


Here’s a few. All good…
“Grace under pressure” over ten years old, a bit corny buy still good.

“The kayak Roll” Kent Ford did a good job on this. Very professional.

EJ’s “Rolling and Bracing”. EJ spends so much time on the water that he’s rumored to have gills. You start by learning to brace, go lower and lower in the water, until it’s hard to tell the difference between bracing or rolling back up.


The current issue of Sea Kayaker magazine has an interesting article on learning or re-learning to roll. It includes excercises done on land to teach you the correct body mechanics, and then lots of on the water procedures. It breaks it down and starts at the conclusion of a successful roll and works backwards. If you can find an instructor that uses sot kayaks like a Twister or a Surf Jet it speeds up the process.


Eric Jackson for President!
Another vote for EJ.

I have taken a couple of classes and rolled succesfully in both of the classes (great instructors at Aqua-Adventures in San Diego), but had to take a month off and then struggled to roll in real waves and current. I have the Kent Ford video, but I found that the method Eric Jackson teaches is much more effective, he also stresses bracing and how to stay upright and relax about tipping over and popping up without having to roll.

Overcoming survival reflexes

– Last Updated: Nov-21-04 4:30 PM EST –

At first there is a HUGE mental block to get over, if you do not pay attention it prevents you from being relaxed and then your mind will not learn the muscle memory steps to putting things together with enough timing to come up! Happens for many many many. As an intermediate person here is what good folks showed me:

1. Know that your primitve brain does thinks survival response required when under water inverted and stuck in a boat!!!!!

2. Practice hanging out under water in shallows with trusted friend, on your side upside down. Do controlled exits, do reentries and have friend right you. Over and over until really relaxed. Do not skip this step!

3. Follow "The Kayak Roll" dvd. There are lots of equally good styles of rolling but this is the safest and most generic way to start. Less injury, less timing required, more success encourages more practice.

4. Have a friend there to support you so that you do ONE STEP AT A TIME and never learn wrong things you must unlearn. Most important, you always finsh that step having done it right and then next time your practice, it will be easier.

5. Don't practice more than 30 minutes, take a break and come back to it or wait a day, very important.

6. Understand that this is NOT somting that you learn in 3 times. It is actually a continuum of learning over many many many times that eventually you beocme very relaxed, and very awre of your body how the boat and you work together where your are underwater, and can come up from any place you find yourself.

Don't discourage yourself with I am a failure. Have someone who can have fun and patience with you and enjoy it!

THis is what I did for me and I did not even end up needing an instructor! However, instructors if they are really good, use this way, just like in the DVD, and they may know how to hold you up better, and they may also know what style of roll is better for your boat, physique, etc.... They may also be better able to diagnose what you are not yet doing that will help.

On line rolling videos
These were posted by another member (wish I could remember who I should give the credit to!) on another thread:

There are really fascinating clips of a sculling roll. I am somewhat of a beginner and have just begun my rolling education, but the sculling roll looks like a good “bombproof” technique I would like to learn.

The “kayak sit-ups” in the current Sea Kayaker magazine article on rolling are also helpful.

is a powerful tool in teaching folk. Hard to deny head first problem when viewing oneself in slow motion on a video. I’ve taught hundreds of folks by now how to roll. Many get it right away, but some are very head strong and want to tell you how it is. Mostly men who are quick to assume that it’s the instructor’s fault when in fact they have too much ego to have a quiet mind that is open to learning. Not saying anyone here, just recting to sings comments that struck me as right on.

Taught myself to roll after Grace Under
Pressure. And later, after watching videos of hapless swimmers, I LOST my roll without benefit of instructor.

Glad you like them.

The main page is:

Some additional clips can be found on the page of my club:


I’m sure you’re right. Another friend, who is an experienced kayaker told me I should have gotten it down by the end of the class. Between that and my personal desire to be able to roll, it may have made me impatient.

I’ll take another class soon.


Thanks, Peter!
Thanks for the links to your site. I have really enjoyed the photos and video you posted. You are fortunate to have what seems to be a really good paddling club.

The Kayak Roll video/DVD is good
I bought it after I learned to roll but had a success rate of only about 2/3 of my roll attempts. Two things upped me to almost 100% (talking only about flat water conditions here): wearing a drysuit and studying The Kayak Roll video.

Since I was practicing in a lake, the cool water limited the number of rolls I could do without starting to shiver. Once I started wearing longjohns and drysuit, I could roll 50 times or more without getting chilled. It was a good way to practice till I got sloppy or tired and see how I did at that point.

One of the best things about the video is its troubleshooting section. They break it down into specific movements during the roll to help you analyze where yours goes wrong or just gets iffy. The clear underwater footage and computer simulations are helpful, too.

Sea kayak or WW?
“Kayak Roll” already mentioned works for both.

Another good one for sea kayaks is Jay Babina’s “1st Roll”. Teaches the extended sweep roll with euro or GP. Takes you through it back to front, gradually adding parts.

Together, these two approaches give you a really good foundation. I found the differences reinforced what’s important.

A couple viewings of each and I got it on my own. My practice sessions were shorts, few, and months apart. Altogether less than a decent lesson. The tapes were key (or maybe it’s the GP).

A little room for the slow ones…
Rolling within a few class sessions is a dandy goal, and I have been in maybe three classes out of a lot more than that where one person made it up in the first class. I should mention that when it happened, twice it was someone who was so intuitively attuned that they got very good unusually fast. Myself - it’s literally been a progress of years because I had to get over a few issues first, like wanting to swim out of the boat the minute it got upside down rather than actually hanging around down there. And I’m not the only person who ever had this problem.

Then there is the matter of being able to repeat the action - it is very common to get up early on, then not really be able to replicate it for a long time afterwards. Hitting a roll the first time or so is often a matter of having happened to do it all right. For many (like me) there’s a time after that where thinking about what you are doing seems to be the death of it.

I’m getting up now at a rational percent, will be fixing that in pool sessions over the winter. But I have been very slow at getting it together, and from talking to others in the paddle group I am more representative than you’d suspect from many of the comments on the board. The fact is that a lot of (touring) paddlers have great difficulties rolling but become invisible because they’ve stopped trying. I’d say that the majority of the touring paddlers in my cohort (50 or so yuppies and dinks) decided that rolling was not a priority quite a while ago, largely because they felt it would be quite difficult to learn and they didn’t think it was worth the time for their paddling purpopses.

So - rolling takes the time it takes for each person. Along the way you’ll learn other useful skills and gain comfort in the boat.


How long it takes…
… is much more dependent on your perceptions and expectations than any actual difficulty.

“Difficulty” is 90% mental. Rolling is easier than not quite rolling, and much easier and faster than a wet exit (and I say this as a rank beginner roller). Use your dislike of being under to get you up - not get you out. Panic = swim. Calm and relaxed = roll. You cannot force yourself to be calm, but to get there you need only let go of the frantic part. Your muscles cannot learn when your minds all over the place. It needs to let go a bit and let your body take care of things.

Trust me, I am not magically gifted in terms of balance, flexibility, or grace. I’m middle aged and packing extra weight. All together my practice sessions - all without instruction (beyond a couple great videos) - would add up to one good lesson (for time and number of attempts - but not for quality), and that was spread out over a year!

After the first two successes (in a new boat to me, but I immediately replicated it in my boat while I had the feel - so 4 successes) I did not try again for a few months. For a minute, I figured( as you do) that I’d have lost it in that time - and so blew my first attempt. I reoriented (internally/mentally), relaxed and focused on the process instead of the outcome, and popped off over 20. Only one I blew during those was an attempt at an offside. That it seems, may take a few sessions to find (or maybe not).

EJ’s Rolling and Bracing DVD
is the best one for me. #2 is the Kayak Roll and #3 Grace Under Pressure. That is also the order of newest to oldest. EJ’s (Eric Jackson) is the most different and intuitive approach I’ve seen