Update On Fear Factor Of Rolling

-- Last Updated: Jul-12-05 4:33 PM EST --

If you are plumb sick of my neverending drivel on this topic, please ignore this post with my apologies.

If you are new to p.net, and you're interested in the topic of overcoming the "fear factor" of rolling, search the archives on Author for my earlier escapades trying to feel comfortable with rolling.

The only thing I learned this week is that my "monkey brain" doesn't get used to new and unnatural tricks all that fast. I had to do the whole drill from scratch, first flipping over at dockside and coming back up, then setting up on the side farthest the dock and rolling up to the side nearest the dock, then a half roll with paddle and float at 90 degrees with the boat. Still not comfortable enough with setting up for a full sweep from front to rear on the half roll with the paddle float. There's a certain secure feeling that goes away when moving the paddle parallel to the boat. I did it a couple of times, but the sweep was not smooth and easy. Looks like it's going to take a few more sessions to reprogram the "monkey brain" to do a half roll with a full sweep. I've got plenty of time though.


Drivel? Not at all.

– Last Updated: Jul-12-05 5:10 PM EST –

I enjoy reading about this - even if you do drive me crazy by making all this so hard!

While we're spouting drivel, here's one more suggestion (and a very serious one - though it will sound otherwise):

Leave that friggin' monkey on the shore!!! As soon as I stopped listening to mine's chattering I rolled right up.

I really think you need to simplify things too. Sounds like you have too much going on with docks and floats and all.

Sweep? Least of your worries. Focus on setup and finish positions and the sweep should take care of itself! All it is is a smooth transitional move from one position to the other. Sweep confuses lots of people as that is the part done while inverted. It's not the key element though so don't let it be of much concern. Keep your attention on what the kayak is doing - get it over and off you. If that's right it will do rest. If not - nothing will. Setup gets you toward the surface, sweep keeps you there and gives you some stabilization so you can drive that knee and get the boat over. Sweep with torso - not arms. Finish just ensure a head low/last order of things. Don't get caught up in details - keep to the big picture - what the kayak is doing.

Maybe, since you've been so forthcoming about this process you could share/refresh some personal details like age, height weight, and general fitness level (and of course equipment). We are all different and it may help others to better visualize your sessions - and make better comments as what works for some of us obviously doesn't for others.

where the roll becomes reflexive …don’t disconnect the brain, but if you stop to think what’s next, you aren’t there yet.

try this…sit in a straight back chair and go over the mechanics in your mind, with your eyes closed (You probably won’t be able to see what you are doing anyway).

DON’T move, just imagine…do this till you find yourself tensing the muscle groups for each part of the roll, and then continue to mentally roll, combining the isometrics of the action…do this over and over…

I learned to perform some really hairy manuvers during my military career, training in this manner.

Spot on!
One thing that especially resonates with me is sweeping with the torso. I was trying to visualize what you were saying and it sounds like you’re reaching too much, Lou. The only time your arms should be reaching is in the setup to get the paddle as high out of the water as possible, and your elbows are still in by your ribs. All the power comes from the torso. It took me a while to grasp this too. There is very little strength in outstretched arms compared to when they’re in close.

Another thing: From what you’re saying, you’re teaching your body a C-to-C with paddle float and then switching to a high brace sweep roll. Body mechanics may be just different enough to confuse the ol’ monkey brain. I’ve got my sculling roll and a high brace sweep roll down. Then this past week I played around with a storm roll, which I succeeded at but sloppily. Afterward, I had trouble setting up for a high brace roll again. My hands couldn’t seem to figure out which way they should be facing. Luckily, I could still scull up. It took me a couple of minutes to feel comfy again with a high brace roll, but it came back ok. Suffice it to say, I’ll be teaching my body one roll at a time.


While I agree with Greyak
on most of what he says I think that the sweep is not all that easy. Just sweeping without an awareness of the position of the paddle will net you nothing. I went back to a euro from my GP this past weekend and had some difficulty because I wasn’t getting good climbing angle on the blade. I had to focus on the inboard hand to get the feel of the climbing angle and then everything came back. I have to really twist the top of the inboard paddle face away from my body to insure a climbing angle on the lifting blade. This is the best way I can explain the feeling.


Feel the force flowing within you…
I agree w/ Greyak above. I am a neophyte roller this year. I first took a wintertime pool class, and could not get past the sweep. This summer, however, a friend worked with me in shallow water, emphasizing only the setup and the finish. If one has good flexibility and comes way up to the surface in the setup, the hipsnap will carry you home. I really just focused on this and keeping the trailing head down. The paddle just seems to find its way home. By ignoring the sweep, I overcame the dark side and found that The Force is with me. Now if I can just get the offside roll…

Hey Lou
It took me 3 years to learn to roll. The upside? My reentries are still bombproof! I still do not get the Greeland Paddle thing yet either… Just out of curiosity do you have heartburn? I have a hiatal hernia that was giving me severe heartburn. I felt real disconcerted underwater. Now that I have the heartburn under control the disconcerted feeling is gone.

One monkey brain to another,


position of the paddle
Well, I do use a GP so paddle position is NEVER in question - and I never needed to give it any though really (but I did have hundreds of miles on that paddle and knew it pretty well. Switching to a GP that is unfamiliar might not be the best idea).

To be sure I hasn’t totally handicapped by the ease of orienting the GP - I tried all my euros and my wing on both sides once my onside was solid. Just as the sweep is not the most important thing -either is the paddle. All worked fine - but the extra attention the EP requires can be a slight pain after the GP. Easier extended as you can learn the angle the other blade needs to be at and just check that at setup. Even the wing is less squirrelly than EP, but these are really pretty minor differences - since the PADDLE DOES NOT ROLL THE KAYAK!!! Keith rolls with a 40lb. log! If it was the paddle that made it work, there would be no such thing as a Hand Roll, let alone a Straitjacket Roll!!!

The sweep roll is not a muscle driven pull-up - it’s mostly core/knee drive. I think using docks and floats and such will make Lou rely WAY TOO MUCH on arm power. When he takes of the float that power will only make the paddle dive. Having all that support to pull up on is teaching exactly the wrong mechanics/feel. Since he also does setups with support - the body position at setup may be sloppy too - pulling up on the shaft instead of crunching up on the braces. Then there’s the effect that stuff has on timing…

A visualization that (after I got her to forget about the sweep/paddle and focus on the kayak) made things click for Kim: The sweep roll is a smooth motion like those slow motion films of a flower petal opening up.

To not get hung up on specifics - watch a variety of videos: “The Kayak Roll”, “1st Roll”, and “EJs Rolling and Bracing” all approach the roll differently. Where they all overlap/agree is where Lou needs to be! I highly recommend investing in all three.

From A Recent Roller…
I recently learned to roll for the first time and have been working on getting things smoother and preparing for a spontainious roll following an unplanned capsize.

For what it is worth my biggest issue was not being able to visualize all of the motions and directions and getting confused. Guess that in this case the way my mind works got in the way. Once through that disability things worked for me pretty well. I now understand that if I had just proceeded and not worried about having a good mental picture I would have had a much easier time.


following the story

– Last Updated: Jul-13-05 11:38 AM EST –

I haven't followed your story as closely as some. Have you had an instructor work with you standing in the water?

that’s the problem
"I wasn’t getting good climbing angle on the blade"

The above statement instantly tells me that you will be fighting with the Euro sweep roll. Ideally, the blade angle should be neutral or even better, slightly diving in a sweep/slash/screw roll. A climbing angle gives you initially supoprt but halfway through the roll, it will dive on you. A neutral roll will give even pressure throughout the roll which is a good thing. My favorite is the diving angle slash roll which is by far the most effortless roll there is. Basically the paddle dives downwards initially, but due to your body rotation, it will plane you back up to the surface. It epitomizes the term “shedding the resistance” and I personally feel that if you are feeling any sort of pulling resistance on the paddle, you are rolling incorrectly in regards tot he sweep.

I completely agree.
I would add that what you are doing is probably not helping you to learn a sweep roll. In fact, as mentioned above, it is probably interferring by training your muscles to do exactly the wrong thing. Here is what I would recommend. For the time being, forget about trying to roll or learning to roll. Deal first with your discomfort being upside down in the water and do so completely independent of hip snap exercises. For example, have someone stand next to you who can do a hand of god rescue (flip you up by reaching across the upside down boat). Then tip over and stay as long as you can. Move around. Touch the hull of your boat, lean forward and back, rotate your torso, etc. Pound on the side of the boat when you want to come up. Practice relaxation/meditation on dry land and then try flipping over, relaxing, and then have your partner do the H.O.G. Finally, as suggested by someone else, be sure you do not have a physical problem that produces your discomfort. Go to your family doctor and ask. When you are sure there is no physical problem and you can dump over without a problem and stay for 30 seconds in a relaxed state, get an instructor and start learning to roll. Even then get rid of the paddle float and rope on the dock. Good luck.

Maybe ditch the paddle float
Hard to figure out what the problem(s) is without seeing you, but one thing I’d do would be to skip the paddle float. Its feel overcomes your sensitivity to naked paddle blade feel. Maybe practice some skimming/sweeping braces while sitting upright, just to see how the blade angle affects paddle resistance.

I’ve managed to roll up after sweeping with poor blade angle, thanks to hip snap, but those were strained rolls. The combination of hip snap with flat blade angle feels the best–light, quick, floaty. I wish all my rolls were the latter but I’m still not there yet.

Also, try ditching the paddle altogether in a non-rolling exercise: sit in the kayak right by shore in shallow water and practice holding on edge to FORCE you to use the correct knee in the hip snap. This exercise will help you concentrate on the main “engine” rather than being distracted by the paddle. If you edge very hard (kayak almost vertical on its side), you might have to put your fingers to the shallow bottom to steady it, but don’t lean on them–immediately do your hip snap to rotate the kayak upright again. Do on both sides.

If you are unconsciously gripping outboard side too hard (something I have to really watch out for), relax that grip as your sweep ends.

Good luck and take advantage of midsummer heat to work on this stuff.

Well, now that you all
have hit on my weakness at the same time I will have to go back to school. Just this weekend I was with someone that was able to observe and state that I DON’T HAVE A HIP SNAP! Probably why I only do extended paddle rolls. My problem is that once I start the sweep, depending upon which paddle I use, things happen so fast that I am up before I have any conscious thought about what to do with my lower body. Yes, I know that I am pulling on the paddle and I keep wishing that I could progress past that. I am better now than before because I don’t feel the same in my shoulder as I used to. Even Derek Hutchinson talks about pulling down on the paddle. His book pretty much describes what I have come to by process of elimination.

I think that I am comfortable in the boat while upside down. I don’t panic at any rate but I do not want to blow the roll and swim because of the lost time for practice.

I will have to think about this neutral position of the blade some. If I don’t get the lift then the paddle goes straight to the bottom IMMEDIATELY. I thought that there should be some lift in order to provide the brace so that the hip snap could be accomplished. There is no way at all that I will EVER do a roll without a paddle like some can.

“I personally feel that if you are feeling any sort of pulling resistance on the paddle, you are rolling incorrectly in regards tot he sweep.”

If that’s the case, try doing the sweep without a paddle and see if you come up. I have found that a slight climbing angle on the blade gives me a VERY powerful roll.

It is somewhat complex
Getting lift from your paddle and feeling resistance are not the same thing. If it feels like your paddle is dragging through the water then you are not sweeping efficiently. Too much climbing angle and your paddle will stall out and dive. If a flat paddle or a slight climbing angle works for you (i.e., you come up and you feel little or no resistance) then great. But it is not necessary to have a climbing angle or a flat paddle nor is it necessary to get the outboard hand/paddle out of the water.

Thank Greyak

– Last Updated: Jul-14-05 11:29 AM EST –

I'll keep your good advice in mind. I agree, if I could only leave the fr@$kin monkey on shore, the mechanics are the easy part. Most of these drills I'm doing are to get my brain to register these things as "okay to do". Once the monkey stays on shore, the rest is easy.

Oh, the personal details: 54 yrs, 5'6", 157lbs. I'm fairly flexible for my age, good cardio fitness, good upper body & torso strength. I have a 16' Night Hawk that with a Swift paddle that I know I can roll with because I have in class a number of times.


Cool Idea

My Plan
Is to slowly let the air out of the float once I feel comfortable. Again, I’m working on the mental aspect. I’ve probably done a couple of dozen successful rolls with no assistance in class. Once I get the “monkey” off my back, I should be able to continue practice on my own. The rational part of my brain is pretty confident that I know what to do. I’ve done it before.


what Dr. Disco said
Yes a slight climbing angle probably would still get you up but it would be harder on your shoulders and it wouldn’t be as efficient in regards to energy use.

… oh and I can sweep roll without a paddle just fine. :slight_smile: