those that use a GP have an easier time
That has been my observaton as well.

Though I first learned to roll with a Euro, I find that a GP is more confidence inspiring.

Getting someone to a roll with whatever paddle and boat gets them there easiest is probably best. The skills can then be transferred to whatever boat and paddle.

Building good muscle memory and confidence are likely the most important aspects of learning to roll.

learning to roll
For what it’s worth, I tried to learn to roll by working on a C to C roll with a euro paddle in a high volume sea kayak. It was frustrating, and I never quite got it.

Then I got a greenland paddle, a low volume valkyrie, Jay Babina’s First Roll DVD, and learned the extended paddle layback roll without much trouble (thanks in great part to a good coach, who helped me figure out where my body was during the sweep).

Now I can roll that high volume kayak with a euro blade without any trouble. But getting there was much easier by going through the greenland paddle, layback roll.

The "Tool…"
Euro or GP. Use/learn the tool for the venue. WW and surf, learning with the Euro is what I would recommend. Two factors that make the GP easier to learn, especially with relatively low volume boats, are the non offset symetry and the built in floatation. However, these days, you can get a Euro paddle with zero offset (symetry) though not the built in rotation. (a lot of ww playboaters are increasingly using zero or minimal offset paddles.)

A GP paired with a low volume boat can speed up learning because the newbie doesn’t get as confused with the offset (hand grip) and the floatation of the paddle can help bring the body up against the lighter resistance of the boat. However, the sweep of the GP has resistance because of the thickness of the paddle. When you use the GP with the wider, less rounded, hull shape of the modern WW or surf boats, you’ll find that the floatation of the GP really is not going to help bring the boat up. You’ll need to have the correct angle of sweep to generate the lift to do that. For newbie who learned to roll with a GP and switching to a Euro for ww and surf, s/he may encounter some confusion. If the the sweep of the Euro has feel of the “resistance” of correctly swept GP, then the Euro blade is likely being swept at the wrong angle to give that resistance. A correct angle sweep on a Euro cuts through the water like a knife. There is hardly any feel of resistance. Also, a newbie can also develop a bad habit of relying on the floatation of the GP to muscle up (to varying degrees) on a GP roll. Euro paddle rolls are much less tolerant of muscle up approaches because the paddle lacks the floatation to muscle up on. Thus, switching tools, in this case a GP to a Euro, may actually foster a sense of confusion and a lack of confidence.

In this case, given the paddler’s stated preference with white water and surf, I say go with the Euro right from the start. I highly recommend a zero offset paddle to learn with. (And a good coach early on, unless the individual is certain of having a high degree of body awareness and athleticism.)


And THANK YOU, Brother Sing

– Last Updated: Aug-19-06 1:32 PM EST –

Your advice to me about getting the knee involved in the roll made a tremendous difference. I think EJ falls short when he describes the lower body motion as a 'hip snap'.

Yeah, it isn’t exactly
More of a thigh roll than anything that the rest of the body follows. But in a WW boat or something that has a tendency to pop up once you get it to the right point, I can see if feeling more like a hip action than anything else. The faster the motion goes, the more the memory will be about the larger body parts rather than the smaller.

When you slow it down you feel the smaller bits, but someone starting out is usually necessarily going for a more explosive motion. They need the extra oomph at the start so they have better inertia at the end, where they might not have a finish to the rotation yet.

Now have EJ video in hand and am really keen to watch it this evening, I have purchased a Pyranha Stretch and a Werner Trip Paddle on the recommendation of a local WW paddler who runs his own shop.

Thanks to those who have posted and keep your thoughts coming…

I just did question it
"ok let me jump in and agree with Jsmarch

Posted by: brazilbrasil on Aug-18-06 4:49 PM (EST)

when he says that probably the best way to learn is with a GP. I don’t think there is any question or argument from anyone that rolling with a gp is easier."

Why is it best? Why should I learn with one if I don’t plan on using one? FYI, I find the platform of a large modern blade very easy to roll with and can perform all or most of my GP rolls with it. Additionally, my difficulties in learning to roll had very little to do with the paddle and almost everything to do with my head, knees, arms or some other barrier to a roll. Here is a question for you: if the GP is so important to the rolling process, why are the advanced rolls done without it?

Augustus Dogmaticus


Two Philosophies

– Last Updated: Aug-21-06 3:24 PM EST –

I think it boils down to two teaching/learning types. Some people prefer to learn with the quickest, easiest equipment and method, then progress to more difficult stuff.

Some people prefer to learn with exactly the equipment that they are going to use so they don't have to 'unlearn' anything.

Personally, I want to start with the easy stuff then go from there.

For example some people say they would never advocate teaching a roll with a paddle float on the paddle. They say you don't have a float on there when you're out on the water so it shouldn't be there learning to roll. My buddy was having problems with comfort and orientation while upside down so I put my float on his paddle. He says it helped him tremendously. He can roll now so it worked for him.

Boat Thoughts
If you aren’t able to roll a ww boat in your first 2 or 3 sessions, you might consider borrowing a long, lean boat to roll. (Flatpick calls it a hot dog shape as opposed to the pancake shape.) You could get the roll with a hot dog boat then transfer the moves to the pancake boat.

good luck–find a friend to spot you
Have fun! Try to find a friend to spot you through the sweep. This can save a lot of frustration and can help you learn the correct muscle memory. Check out the description of the process at Tom Conner’s website:

Your spotter doesn’t need to know how to roll–any friend will do, if they’ve read the descriptions (and preferably seen a video of a good roll). Figuring out how to do the sweep before you’re completely upside down can really help your body learn to orient itself. And use noseplugs–sinus infections slow down the learning process.

after watching the kayak roll
and greatly entertaining my family laying on my back in my shorts with my legs in the air and a broomstick emulating the moves, the following day I got up with a shaky roll…three or four times I believe.

go through the motions on the ground, feel the sweep with the broomstick and look at it and see how it angles either upwards or downwards depending on how you are holding your wrists and arms and get some muscle memory. Modify the way you are holding the padle to keep it at a slight upward angle.

It will be much easier on the water.


EJ and Jay Babina + Dubside
EJ and Jay Babina’s approaches have a lot in common. It took a while, but once I realized that lying with my shoulders square to the water in the water using the water to support my body while I slid onto the back deck (the full high brace position)was the key to the roll, it was easy. Now I can flop into the high brace as a static brace, scull if I need to, and then flick up with gentle pressure on the rolling knee. With respect to teaching, having a spotter help the new roller get comfortable trusting the water (focusing on a full sweep to the finish position) with increasing degrees of boat lean (50% to fully inverted)can be really helpful. The key is to help the student relax into the water rather than to fight it. One key to this is to remind them to relax the head and to breathe! On another note, for those interested in Greenland rolling, Dubside’s video is the best yet. I’m making the transition from layback to forward finishing rolls, and have found it very hepful. Apart from assembling your own DVD from scatterd materials on the web, it is the only systematic approach to layback, norsaq, hand and forward finishing rolls on DVD. Highest possible recommendation.

Yes x 4

My recommendation to anyone serious enough about rolling (sea kayaks) to spend $ on the learning process is to buy all of the following (in order I acquired - not a ranking!):

The Kayak Roll

1st Roll

EJ’s Rolling and bracing

Greenland Rolling with Dubside

Each is very strong - in different ways. Where they all overlap is what you needs to be focused on. Seeing different approaches that all work well can prevent over analyzing or misunderstanding individual elements and let you see what really matters (vs what you might think matters).

I learned mostly from “The Kayak Roll” and online info (hard to call that “self taught” - but this was done on my own outside of having a bow to practice “hip flicks” a couple times). Then “1st Roll” helped me learn to slow down a bit and get a roll on the other side - which felt different and having a different approach was perfect. EJ was good for the and simplicity and clarity of teaching - which has helped me teach others - and offers ways to vary things and really build on the basics. Dubside’s DVD is simply great - and really conveys the right mindset/relation to the water. Presenting rolling as a fun and easy thing - that is an integral part of kayaking. It can take you well beyond a single basic roll.

I still have much to learn from EJ’s and dubside’s DVDs. Think I’ll work on getting back in shape first. Basic rolls are easy being fat and lazy - but those forward finishers…

another vote for Dubside’s DVD
of course i was jaded after spending 3 days with him at sweetwater symposium but the DVD is quite remarkable for many reasons:

  1. division—Dubside shows how rolls are either

    forward or layback
  2. progression–he shows how for example the layback rolls progress from the standard roll ultimately through the shotgun to norsaq to the hand roll
  3. he shows the exact techniques using a sit-on top so you can see what the hips/knees are doing…most DVDs the legs are inside the boat where you can’t see what is going on
  4. he shows that the techniques are ‘universal’ in that they apply to any boat—in the DVD he rolls doubles, triples, and a sit-on top that is like a small barge…as he puts it, dont blame the boat you have
  5. he preaches flexibility which is good for our lives and other sports anyway
  6. and he goes over methods to make YOUR boat more roll friendly…

    I’ve got EJ’s too, both are excellent. Dubside’s is of course more geared toward sea kayaks and even more so to the Greenland rolls…i doubt any who enjoy kayaking would regret the purchase.

over analyze
too much stress. it is not rocket science. An average roll takes 2 to 3 seconds. You can easily slow it waaaaay down, concentrate on where your body is and where the paddle is, and come up slowly and safely. Way too much of this is self induced stress blocking people from just relaxing and feeling their way through.

Initially, I think people do try to do a fast combat roll and get up as quickly as possible…slow down and smell the seaweed.



The sea is my Neti pot
A few will understand - the rest of you can go Google yourselves!

This year
…I made my first roll. Completely self taught, I started in shallow water to get confidence upside down, than moved to deep water with a ladder on the waterside to learn that hip snap/knee lift thing. I tried several times with the paddle und failed, because the paddle wasn’t properly aligned. The key for my first successful roll was a self made paddle float (bungees on a piece of foam) and the extended position. The float put the blade to the surface, the extended grip provides information about the blade angle and enough power to go up. Then I removed the float and rolled. Important for a successful roll was the proper paddle alignment and to keep the head low. I don’t lean back while rolling, because I got the instructions from a WW book where it was “strictly forbidden” :wink:

the best post you’ve made here in my opinion… so probably doesn’t matter doesn’t apply, at least as far as I’m concerned. Beginners talk about this or that roll…experts just roll up from wherever they are positioned.

Have some
pals who are ex-Olympic paddlers. Last year at a party someone was asking them about C to C Vs sweep roll etc. They didn’t understand what these labels meant and uttered something about &*% sea kayakers…

Listen to EJ.

Not leaning back is an old myth
Even though some important people warn about leaning back it is a point of view that is not based on careful analysis. It is one of these ideas that hangs around and gets repeated but doesn’t hold water if you really think about it. Salty is right. Listen to EJ.