Thoughts on instruction

rolling theory

Nice article and nice site.

I’ve used a similar technique in the past substituting a rigid paddle float or hand paddles to try and help drive home the point of rotating the kayak rather than lifting the body.

Of course we all need to keep in mind that success, however minor, fuels the desire to practice and grow. So I always try to leave them with something to hang a hat on at least temporarily. Keep experimenting, it’s our dissatisfaction with the status quo that moves us forward.



My buddy was having some difficulty so I tried to help out. First I loaned him “EJs Rolling and Bracing” to watch and he did high braces. Then I put the paddle float on his paddle for some rolls. Then it was just a matter of keeping his paddle angle right.

He says the paddle float was a big help.

Sculling approach
After undergoing a loooong path to get a roll on my right side, which put the patience of a number of instuctors to the test because beating the anxiety alone consumed so much time, I started after the offside roll later this last season. On the right I have a kinda CtoC, but my offside was started with a full back deck roll last fall then a sculling roll in pool sessions over this winter.

After this winter’s pool sessions, I am a convert to all rolling coming from a scull and using the heck out of the back deck advantage for starting a side. Despite the adage that each side will take as long, my left side is coming on at lightning speed compared to what I went thru with my right. In fact, I am having the devil of a time being able to vary how I come up on my right compared to my left. And about half of my sculling rolls have even been accidental - I intended to scull up but found myself up in a single stroke. And came up so easily I windowshaded.

I have known some people who got stopped at the point of having the paddle float on the blade, others who were able to gradually reduce the amount of support and move on. I suspect that because it allows the paddler to get away with pulling down on the blade overly much for support, for some it short circuits their really focusing on the the hip and torso rotation.

I bought several kick boards. One I keep intact. Another I cut in half, another into thirds, and another into quarters. Almost anyone can roll with the full board. Once they can do that they can graduate to smaller and smaller pieces. By the time you get to a quarter board it is easy to move on to a hand roll. I don’t use the boards to initially teach the roll since I can teach the EJ roll to almost anyone in a single session. But for improving the hip snap the boards are great.

I like this kind of progression towards less and less flotation via the kickboard. It seems to parallels a common paddle roll to hand roll progression.

In my own training I keep going back to this kind of thing to clean-up and realign the basic movements. That being said I better get to work on my own training pretty soon or go back to arm rolling.

paddle floats…
“for some it short circuits their really focusing on the the hip and torso rotation”

This is a good point. To use the paddle float effectively, one has to understand how the roll works. One will likely be stuck if there is an impression that the roll is mostly a “paddle thing”.

One can also use the paddle float in a “progressive” manner by decreasing the amount of inflation used (maybe, this is obvious).

I learned via the paddlefloat…
and wish I learned by some other method. I have worked hard to rely more on my body and less on my paddle. To me, the paddle float taught me to rely on my paddle. I have been teaching rolling and can find no better system than EJ’s. I used it to help a woman, who in her 6th class, finally made it up. Outstanding system.


EJ has a good system but…
I still prefer the Kayak Roll method. I have had the same success teaching both EJ’s method as well as the Kayak Roll method both in success ratio and the time it takes for initial success. However, I am personally biased toward the sweep roll over the C-to-C which is why I am more comfortable teaching the Kayak Roll method. I do like the EJ “down and back” concept and I use that quite a bit in teaching.

I have both discs…
and am just starting to go over the Kayak Roll one now. Interesting to see which one I stay with more.


To those two, add
Jay Babina’s “1st Roll”. An extended sweep roll taught in reverse. Similar to Greenland methods, and adapted so it’s very easy to work on alone.

I’m self taught, mostly off “Kayak Roll” to get my initial rolls. “1st Roll” - helped get me over a little hump on the offside and gave another way to look at it all.

I didn’t get EJ’s until a bit after that. As such I can’t evaluate the method from a non-rolling to rolling perspective - and I also prefer sweep to C2C - but the TEACHING method/theory/pace/attitude/approach is excellent.

I know that multiple versions and methods may confuse a lot of people while trying to learn their initial rolls - but for me the variety helped me understand it better. It is easy to see a large overlap between the methods and realize that stuff is what’s important - instead of getting hung up in specific minutia/words/ways.

Too Much Support…
We gradually reduced the air in the float then did away with it. My buddy was having problems understanding where his arms were supposed to be and he said the paddlefloat helped him a lot with that. I guess it reduces anxiety; knowing that he’s coming up.

Once we got his blade flat on the water he started rolling great. I passed along your advice to me when I was having shoulder pain … “keep a loose grip.” Thanks.