stuck rolling-any suggestions?

I think I have narrowed done my biggest problem with rolling. The flotation of pfd occasionally prevents me from rolling under boat to get to correct set up position. I am mostly doing back deck rolls now.

Any suggestions on how to get under boat to other side, how to prevent it, or should I just switch sides since I am already half way there.



‘swim’ to the other side
i’ve hung up in the middle too, i think it happens to all who roll with pfd on, i said swim to the other side but you really will ‘stroke’ with the paddle to the other side, i.e. paddle stroke to pull you around, then go to your setup postion, i havent hung in the middle for a long time though, i think because when i go over i try to keep the momentum up to help in the process…i’m looking at the new kokata pfd (but not for this reason), cant remember the name but it has 7pounds of flotation inherent then you add with a CO2…might be a thought though in this situation…


– Last Updated: Jan-13-06 7:41 AM EST –

Are you backdeck rolling on both sides or just one? If you rolling on one side, I would suggest learning the offside. It's much better to able to do both sides. I generally come back up on the side that I go over in. No struggle with trying to get to an "onside." Also, iff you blow it, you can use the momentum going back in to completely rotate to the other side. Or, if you have/learn a sweep roll, blowing a backdeck roll sets you right up to do a sweep roll on the same side. Are you trying to roll in a decked boat rather than your ski? It's worthwhile to learn a sweep roll with the boat. The sweep roll will also worked with the waveski. Rather than pulling up on the footstrap on the outboard side, you simply drive up with the knee against the thigh/knee brace as you sweep.

Curious which (? surf) boat are you are using?


Both sides
I have the same problem, and started working on the offside now for that reason. I found out the hard way that, if you are someone who is light enough to have to swim to the other side, it gets real easy to end up out of position in the seat and braces when you have current running against you. Thus making it tougher to come up because you have to get (literally) reseated before you can set up on the other side…

It still could be occassionally necessary to get to the other side of the boat, and learning to do it with the paddle in hand is better than dog paddling with your hands. With the latter, you are stuck having to get the paddle into position again afterwards before you can actually do a roll. It takes up time and air. I’ve had that problem and will be working with the paddle bit in the pool this winter to get by that. But I suggest that you not repeat my basic mistake - start on the other side as soon as you have your first 100 on the first one.

I know there are those out there who don’t think it’s a real roll unless you go 360 degrees. But it seems to be an older school thing, and the most rigid of attitudes should recognize that for some people it is faster and safer to come up on the side you went down on because getting under the boat is challenging.

We know someone who just got the H2O vest, and it might help this a bit because of the lesser floatation. But if it’s a big enough boat and a smaller person, and there is strong wind or current working against you to boot, those will be bigger impediments than the PFD.

Wonderings from an absolute newbie…
I am just learning to roll, so I will have little/nothing to offer in terms of technique advice. However, I do have a few questions.

Are you a beginner regarding rolling? What boat are you using? Have you taken any rolling lessons? Are you using a GP or Euro paddle? Are you using goggles?

I recently took some rolling/GP technique lessons with Turner Wilson and Cheri Perry. Would highly recommend them if they are ever in your area. The following weekend at the pool everything I ‘learned’ the prior week seemed to float out of my head, until others offered some suggestions/reminders. The most important suggestion for me was to use goggles. Once I donned the goggles I was able to become oriented underwater, despite the fact that I had been ‘rolling’ with open eyes without goggles. I then was able to integrate the GP technique from the prior two weekends into a visual field that made sense. I am now confident that with the appropriate techniqe and a sense of underwater orientation (and ongoing stretching to faciliate flexibility), the body memories I am seeking will continue to develop.

Is it possible that the orientation of your paddle and/or body is the issue. Look for a skilled roller to observe you…

Enjoy…I know I am.


this question was regarding waveski but I did go ahead and ordered a used mini mako. Have not gotten it yet.

I can roll on both sides but have found that i have been automatically going to my onside but have been working to break that habit. I have to think about which side I should roll on and not automatically set up on same side each time.

The hang up only haoppens occasionaly and I think I just need to do something different. I find I keep trying to roll same side and then decide that i hve to roll on that side to prove a point. Probably just switching side would be best.


When you get your mako
You might want to head to a pool and try some boat rotations. The longer Mako has a funny feel to rolling compared to whitewater boats. I have to come up on the back deck to roll it over and it “feels” like it is not going to come over until very late in the process. The experts here can give you better advice, but I really exagerate burying the tail to get the forward part of the boat to rotate on the surface if that makes any sense. When I first got my boat some experienced rollers tried it and claimed it was impossible to roll which freaked me out a bit, but I found with some experimentation it rolls OK if you change your technique a bit.

Don’t Use Underwater Rotation
instead, just lay on the backdeck, initially with the paddle set up to roll on the side you go over on (offside), and then back deck roll up from there. In other words just isolate the roll on that side, with counting on a full 360 rotation (which doesn’t always happen in real surf conditions). Once you get it down consistently, try flipping while on your back deck, letting yourself settled, bring your paddle out horizontally in front of your chest (neutral in direction), then pick a side and roll up. Alternate sides.


To fully invert…
extend both arms straight downward toward the bottom with the paddle shaft parallel to the bottom. When full extended, pull up sharply in a way as to get maximum resistance on your blades. (This is easier for me, b/c I paddle unfeathered.) This should fully invert you. From there you can fold your trunk up on whichever side you choose to set up for your roll.

I keep some air in my drysuit in the winter to stay warmer, so hanging up on my off-side could be a problem. Then, I learned an offside roll, and the inversion technique was not so important. In breaking surf, with so much force to tap in to, rolling is a lot easier than in flat water. But, you have to be able to get to the side where you can use the force of the sea to pop you up. On occasion, the inversion technique can still help me get there.


Wave Forces
definitely make popping up easier. It’s like rolling up in a ww hole. The issue is being able to tell and feel where the forces are welling up.

I think having both back deck and sweep rolls for surfing a great help with surfing. Once ingrained, you don’t really need any particular set up position. You simply feel and stick your paddle blade into the force, tap into that and pop up. Having said that, I find I deliberately let myself hang upside down just slow down and get off the wave or wash before rolling up. Generally, I don’t like rolling immediately up and find myself riding still in the wash and headed to shore. It just makes a longer paddle back out through the break zone.


If you have
flexable hamstrings you could try tucking forward as far as possible to bring your body as close to the deck as possible.

Second on the paddle down
I didn’t practice going under the boat last night… another idea that was forgotten with what I was working on. But - to get you and the paddle under the boat when going against resistence the best first move I’ve found is what I understand from above. That is to shove the paddle straight down towards the bottom before trying to move it and yourself to the other side. It makes it easier to then turn the paddle as needed to get home blade forward, and for me trying to move it straight to the side at a shallower depth is not so reliable and can be disorienting. No matter how much your spatial sense is messed up, you can always distinctly feel the kind of resistence that happens when you are pushing the blade to the bottom.

Newbie Question

– Last Updated: Jan-15-06 10:17 PM EST –

Interesting read. I am planning to teach myself rolling (no local classes), when the weather warms up, will have a paddling buddy by my side. I am pretty adept in the water, don;t mind being upside ddown, and all that. Have watched the DVDs including EJ Bracing and Rolling, in which he reviews the technique quite thoroughly. He shows it is painstaking detail, and even states that he can have newbies in his class rolling in 15 minutes.

Has anyone learned to roll on their own with a book or DVD only?

Bigger question: If in shallow water with a spotter, calm conditions, and the PFD is an impediment secondary to its float, should I learn without the PFD first, get the roll fluid, and then start with the PFD... seems to be better choice than trying to struggle with PFD when I don;t even have the basic technique yet. Thanks

Wear your PFD
also wear what you will wear when paddling, helmet etc … you learn to roll by feel, and if it feels different, it’s not going to work right.

I had lessons and learned a sweep roll the first time but it was not very reliable in rough conditions. I did EJs method by myself on a calm day with gentle waves at a beach. I was rolling reliably in about 10 minutes. I think it’s a good idea to have a good teacher watching you who can judge what you are doing wrong though if you are having trouble.

Hutchinson’s Book
(much better materials available) and Grace Under Pressure are what I used for references, after learning and practicing my self rescues. Took me almost two months learning late fall on a pond. I stayed in water about waist/chest deep where there were no debris or boulders to bang my head against. Learned the onside there. Went to the pool and quickly got my offside.

The following spring, I capsised on a lake, went for my first combat roll and blew it. Spent a bunch of time practicing rolls over and over again. Then, switched to a GP which made things easier because of non-feather and bouyancy. Learn other rolls with the GP and really ingrained the body mechanics. Now, I don’t really care what paddle I use, I pretty sure I can roll/brace/scull with it.

Even if you don’t have an instructor, it’s probably best to work with a spotter who can give you feedback on what you’re doing. Generally, the biggest problem area is bringing the head up too soon. The other with Euro paddles is a diving paddle. In deeper water, a diving paddle is not a problem if you follow through and hip snap at the bottom of the diving curve. However, for a newbie who is not working in deep water, the paddle will hit the bottom before really giving support again.


Great advice, nice to live through you.
Thanks very much to all of you for telling me about your trials and tribulations with rolling. Sounds like a respectable group of p-netters (you are all reasonably frequent posters and all respected—kshunka, seadart, medman, rusty and sing) have indeed learned to roll on your own. This is very helpful information and you have given me the confidence to try it and learn. Maybe the Kayak Roll DVD will give more info than EJs, but I have the latter and will simply try if for now, and see how it goes. I do have a swimming pool to try in the springtime. KShunka, I know you posted your rolls recently in the freezing water, and it is really encouraging to know that you learned that on your own. Sing, you posted when you hit your first live roll as I recall, so it again is nice to know it can be done. I agree, it seems like the head must be kept low (back, over rear deck according to Nigel F and EJ), so I will emphasize that. I’ll find a 4 foot section of clam lake and try from that. Hope I can roll in my Prijons. Thanks.