Teaching the Roll

A few weeks ago, I posted about trying to learn an offside roll, and got lots of replies about how useful an offside roll might be. So I went out with a spotter to work on the offside roll some more, trying a spotting method I read about at Tom Conner’s website:


My spotter held my boat (from the other side) at about a 90 degree angle for one roll, so that I could make sure I knew where my body was during the sweep. After one time being spotted, I could suddenly do the offside roll without much trouble, and 2 weeks later, it’s often better form than my onside roll.

Last night, I taught a friend new to kayaking to roll (she learned an extended layback roll with my greenland paddle in my BBK valykrie). We used the same technique of supporting the boat from the opposite side, at progressively lower angles (see http://www.msu.edu/~connert/sweep.htm for a great description). We also combined this with some of the exercises in Jay Babina’s DVD First Roll. She’s only been kayaking a few times, but after just half an hour, she had a pretty good half roll. That’s mostly testimony to my friend’s calmness under water and athletic abilities (and a diving mask), but I think it also suggests that Tom Conner’s spotter method, combined with Jay Babina’s methods, really can help a learner develop muscle memory and some sense of where her body should go.

Glad you found the site useful.
You never know who finds your website and what use they make of it.

Tom Conner

(aka Dr_Disco)

I got an “Error forbidden to access” mesage when I tried to access the site???

So did I

Try again.
The MSU system was down all evening for software upgrades. I just tried it and it works.

What Helped Me…

– Last Updated: Aug-05-06 5:43 AM EST –

Don't say "Keep your head down". It's "Bring the boat up first".

Don't call it a "hip snap". Call it a "knee lift".

Those two little things have helped me a lot.

Great advice.
For Tom or others, if you hold a student’s boat at 90 degrees by the cockpit rim, is there a way to keep their offside blade from chopping at your hand and arm as they sweep? Is there another reliable way to hold and rotate their boat?

Avoiding being hit can be a problem
You just have to get your arms out of the way for the first part of the sweep and then stand by to grab the boat again as the student rotates. You can sense when to remove your hands because the boat will start to feel lighter and you can see the paddle. For some students you can remove your hands as a signal for them to start the sweep. I have yet to be hit.

I should also note that I wrote that material in 2001. I would do some things differently now.


– Last Updated: Aug-05-06 5:51 PM EST –

What would you do differently now?

Tom also has another useful page called the "passive paddle" which really helps with learning and teaching the roll: