Set up for roll

What should the head position be during the set up for a roll while being suspended upside done. I’m having some difficulty nailing me rolls. More miss than hit.

head position
your first instinct after capsize should be to tuck forward and kiss the deck.

roll set up
Tuck forward when you tip over, but do so in such a way as to position your head to the outside of your knee. You can often get your head in a more shallow position this way, and it will be where it needs to be when you initiate your roll.

When you set up to roll, you want your head as close to the surface of the water as possible. In fact, you want your entire upper body as close to the surface as possible. Try to break the surface of the water with your helmet (or head) if you can. The roll is powered by using the buoyancy of your head and upper body to provide support and inertia as you initiate the turning momentum that will roll the boat upright using your lower body and trunk muscles.

The closer to the surface you can get, the more effective your roll will be.

Head position for roll
It might be helpful to know what type of roll do you do, and whether you learning or have you lost a roll that used to be fairly reliable?

I do a low resistance sweep roll, aka screw roll or twist and slice roll as taught in this dvd: I like this roll because I am not as young and flexible as I used to be, and this is an easy and effortless roll that keeps you protected and brings you up in a powerful position.

This is a great DVD and I have taken roll lessons from 3 of the instructors who are on this DVD (the DeReimers and Dan Crandall). The DeReimers have some tips at their website :

On setup for the sweep, they say:

Set-up: The body twists tightly to one side of the boat, chest wrapped toward the outside of one thigh as snugly as possible. The back hand is near the hip and the angle of the front blade is neutral to slightly diving.

Their DVD has an entire section on troubleshooting and diagnostics. It can be hard to determine the exact problem at times, because, e.g., people may say you are lifting your head when it is something else that is wrong that causes you to lift your head.

One of the common problems on setup is setting up too far forward, towards the bow. That encourages you to bring the paddle down rather than sweep it out with the body.

As for head position, I was taught to let it float up with the chest, which I try to get as close to the surface as possible at the start of the sweep.

Set up
I’m just learning - have an Avocet. Screw roll is what I’m attempting.

Screw roll
The Avocet is a great boat and easy to roll. A lesson would really be good when starting. The DVD is really good, but live instruction is really worthwhile.

The DVD has a good progression for building the skills you need to do the screw roll. If you are just learning, the set up is really important. But even with a perfect setup, it takes time to learn the other skills.

thank you
I’ve been working on sculling bracing and static bracing.

If you’re working on skulling brace, and you want to get to a sweep roll, try starting upright, then lean back and slide into the water while sculling. Do one slow skull with an extended paddle, and then back up on the back deck, sweeping forward as you descend, then sweeping back as you slide up onto the deck. The first time, just get one shoulder wet. Then go deeper and deeper each time you try it. Think about keeping the paddle close to your chest (which will make you rotate your body to scull, instead of just using your arms).

Eventually you’ll be dipping down until everything but your nose is underwater, and then sweeping back up. Once you’ve got that, you’re basically rolling.

If you have a friend along, they can support the end of your paddle very gently the first couple times as you get the feel of the motion.

No matter what problem I’m having with any number of different rolls or sculls, the advice I usually need to hear is “slow it down”. Sculling down is a good way of slowing down and breaking up the sweep roll.

Thanks again to everyone for your input. It’s greatly appreciated.

Bow rescue
One more thing if you are just starting. Try to have or get a good bow rescue going, and practice with a friend. You will be able to use your time better, because you may miss quite a few rolls when learning, especially without instruction, and a bow rescue saves the time of a wet exit.

I to am just starting to roll
And I seem to be getting conflicting ways to come up. Back deck or in a more upright position as to ready to take a stroke? Was told you are actually more stable on the back deck because your center of gravity is lower. But seems to me in conditions where you could actually capsize you would want to come up and be ready to take a stroke or brace, really can`t do that if you are lying on your back deck.

Worry about that later
I’d say you shouldn’t worry about finishing position now. Just work on a roll. If the easiest roll for you to learn is a layback roll, then learn that. Once you’re rolling well, it’s easy to try different finishing positions, types of rolls, and so on. But step one is simply to roll.

Personally, in rough water I think I do a sort of sweep roll that ends just slightly leaned back. For me it makes it easier to react to the big waves I might be rolling up in, and I find it less disorienting than coming up on my back.

Head to the surface
Rolling is all about technique. Think of it as rolling the boat under you. Get your head as close to the surface as possible, use the paddle as a brace and roll the kayak with your body. Your head should be the last thing out of the water. If you start out with your head too far under water, that’s where the roll will end and you won’t be up. When you get to the point where your rolling up most of the time, break the roll down into parts and concentrate on certain parts of the roll, setup, hip flick, recovery, to fine tune your technique. A dependable roll takes a lot of commitment and practice.

finishing position
To some extent, the roll you first learn might depend on the conditions you anticipate paddling in.

If you are rolling up in deep water, finishing the roll laid out on the back deck isn’t so bad. Greenland kayak aficionados seem to favor this type of roll, and by keeping the weight of your body aligned with the long axis of the boat around which it rolls can make the roll look and feel effortless.

But if you have to roll in shallow conditions (shore break or whitewater) it is a poor option, in my opinion, since it does take longer to sit up, reorient yourself and prepare to take a stroke. Worse, it puts your face and upper body in a very exposed position if the roll fails.

In shallow water, you could find yourself jammed against the back deck in a position from which it is difficult or impossible to set up.

You Got DAT Right.
Head as close to the surface as you can.

head positsion
Head position close to surface makes perfect sense. I know when things don’t work I tend to hurry and I don’t believe my head is close to the surface.

I really appreciate everyone’s input.

Face up then down during screw roll
In my screw roll, at setup my face starts out near the surface, looking up at the sky. As I sweep, my upper body twists, so that my head rotates until my face is looking down, tucked onto my shoulder, as I come up, which is at about the time my paddle is straight out from the boat. The upper body twists the opposite direstion than the hips and knees twist the other.

The screw or sweep roll gets you up in a much more functional position than does any back deck roll. Coming up flat on you back deck is not stable, coming up ready to brace or stroke is stable.

To get your head and upper body
up toward the surface, you will need to concentrate on engaging the knee and trunk muscles on that side of the body that corresponds to the side of the boat you are setting up on.

Head down!
I find my head position at the finish of the roll is more critical than at the beginning. Usually when I blow a roll I can trace it back to the fact that I tried to bring my head up too soon at the end. It’s a tough instinct to fight.


False Sweep
If you find that you are hurrying things, you could try a false sweep. That is a good solution for a number of problems including rushing.

In the false sweep, set up as usual. Now sweep yourself and the paddle slowly on the surface to 90 degrees while you smoothly snap your hips. Don’t try to roll up (although it is possible that you will, which is ok). Now smoothly sweep back to setup position and perform the roll.

One nice thing about the false sweep is that it gives you a chance to pay attention to what you may be doing, but unaware of, during the roll attempt. For instance, during the false sweep you might pay attention that you are totally relaxing the off side knee as you sweep, or that you are maintaining a neutral blade angle. You could also become aware of other hitches you might have during the false sweep.

I usually do a mini false sweep at the start of all rolls - I use it to be sure that my paddle is correctly oriented on the surface of the water, and it helps relax me, which is important for me.