Teaching Rolling??

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Rich C
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Teaching Rolling??

Post by Rich C »

As people probably know the new university season has just started and from this I am constantly being asked, often by people who have only been paddlin since september, to teach them how to roll. Basically as I don't have any actual coaching qualification (always meant to just never got the time) I was wondering how people go about teaching this.

Generally I have tried to go down the:
Hip flicks on the side of the pool
Screw Roll
Hand Roll

Route but have seen lots of people either skip out the pawlatta entirely or only use it as a back-up if things aren't working out. Also whats the best way of stopping people pulling the wrong way and going under the boat with the paddle blade as this seems to happen a lot and I am not entirely sure how to sort it out.

Any help please is welcome.

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Post by freddie »

I don't particually like teaching the pawlatta, as it's quite different to a normal roll, and doesn't particually help onto a normal roll (well, thats what I though when I was being taught).

I find a good way is to start with support strokes and eskimo rescues, which encourage hipflicks and orientation in the water.
I then get the person to attempt half rolls first, as I find it is a better way to figure out where you and the paddle need to be in relation to the boat.
Then moving on to the screw roll.
Although I try to encourage good support strokes instead, as prevention is better than a cure.
It's also that beginners feel that they need to be able to roll to do any sort of paddling, when good support strokes will help them much better when paddling than a roll that most likley won't work.

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Post by Steve B »

It's true that supports strokes are more useful than rolls. But learning to roll is a massive confidence booster, and the value of that shouldn't be underestimated. Once a paddler learns to roll, you'll see his/her whole repertoire of strokes improve.
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Post by Lil Miss Boater »

Im not an expert in this area but thought it may help you if I describe how I was coached/taught!

I was taught the C to C roll (check out Loel Collins book the black art demystifyed). Its a roll using a high brace type manouvre.

1st- Got me swimming in the water to warm up, then got me doing sumersaults, handstands and other aquatic things. (get me used to being underwater.)

2nd - Hip flicks using side of the pool and the end of some ones boat making sure i really used my feet, hips and bottom to push me the correct way (made me figure it out too). also keeping head close to boat yada yada.

3rd - Coach was standing next to me in the pool. With me holding paddle (still sitting upright), guided the blade from the front of boat, skimming over the water (no real use of power just getting blade ready i think he said) until the blade reached the x spot - a place where u would do a high brace and put in a downward power stroke.

4th - On understanding where the x spot was, he supported my body whilst edging over and I started putting the paddle action with the hip flick. Gradually the edging increased until my shoulder/ear was getting wet. All the while encouraging me to self evaluate.

5th - Next he showed me how to set up (still upright) ensuring I was leaning right forward and my hands were squished on the boat whilst holding paddle. streesed that when upside down paddle would be relaxing on top of the water ready for skimming over water to end up at x spot.

6th - He stood on opposite side to which I was setting up and got me to just try it and was there to assist me and turn me the right way if necessary.

7th - Once more confident underwater he guided my paddle and gave it a wiggle when i was at the correct x spot (got a lil confuzed upside down as u do!!).

That was the basics of how i learnt, a tennis ball under the brace arm (futhest away frm water arm) was used to stop me from doing the brace move wrong.

If u look in the Loel Collins book or lots of other rolling books you can see the whole trapeze thing or attaching ropes to grab handles and pulling people up and down the pool whilst rolling. (introducing contextual intereference or added confusion/disorientation). It then goes further into developing moving water rolls etc.

Also important to get the person used to water on their face so they dont get too much of a gasp reflex, if you are doing it in cold water especially.

I cant really remember any more from it. It was about a year ago and my roll has been bomber since. Took 2 pool sessions with one on one coaching. As long as u understand/find out how the person likes to learn it takes less time i think.

Hope that makes sense and isint too garbled.


oops just realised how long this is, oh dear!!!!
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Post by Rory »

I'd second that on the Pawlatta give it a miss. It's never used in reality (that I've heard of) and to be honest I found it easy to go straight for the c to c or screw rolls.

There are good DVDs about such that can be helpful. EJs rolling and bracing is very easy to follow and includes a section on teaching others to roll. Better than a book as you can see the actions etc. It could be worthwhile investment for your club as you could loan it out to members.

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Post by Jim Pullen »

I seem to have been lumbered with teaching rolling in my club for the last few years and have been able to get most freshers rolling within one or two pool sessions (the exception being my girlfriend, but I guess this is for similar reasons to teaching your partner driving - ie it never works!)

I've never had any formal coaching, but interestingly I teach a near identical method to that which Sarah describes. I wrote a little bit on our wiki this year if you're interested.

Agree on skipping the pawlatta roll - it encourages newbies not to bother with a hip flick and is of very little use on moving water.

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Post by robt »

Careful teaching the handroll too, try to restrain the eager learner before they have a bombproof paddle roll. You run the risk of your proteges getting on a real river, falling in, promptly letting go of their paddles and handrolling up. Useless.

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Post by The Shell »

In theory i agree about the pawlatta....however is we're dealing people.

Everyone is different and sometimes you i have used a pawlatta to help them....i have never called it a pawlatta to them though and never told them it is a fall back.

I use it, then ask them to move their hands down more, then repeat until finally they have their hands where they should be on the paddle...only if i've failed to teach them how to roll normally fist time would i resort to this.

But again would never refer to a pawlatta as a back up....very simple phsychology, similar to pulling your deck.

Also would agree with those who said they would teach roll first as a confidence booster.

Final advice would be to re-itterate that you're dealing with people. Teach them at a pace and in a way that best suits them!
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Post by Lil Miss Boater »

I think Leo Hoare, a PYB coach has a DVD coming out soonish that allows u to do sections at a time, it breaks it all down in to lessons and bite size chunks.

Oh and make sure u are bilateral when u coach it, so you dont have to be dependant on one side when rolling!
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Rich C
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Post by Rich C »

Lil Miss Boater thanks for the info, I always find it useful hearing/seeing how others are taugt and I'll give that method a try next time I'm teaching,

Yeah I agree that teaching and using support strokes is better than going straight to rolling and normally I'll do this before going anywhere near teaching people how to roll. However I have noticed that people seem to worry about going over when practicing support strokes and this tends to hamper them as they don't put enough effort into the stroke - too worried about going over and then being out of the boat. Therefore they want to learn how to roll. As Steve said this then tends to imprve all of the other strokes.

In terms of hand rolls it really is something that I move onto with them once they are happily paddle rolling as I have found that it improves what can be a weak hip flick and therefore makes the roll better aswell. I try not to teach it to them first as I have seen the result of someone like that on the river and the happy "I rolled" face quickly changed into a "oh **** what do i do now", which whilst amusing for those around them, it wasn't the best thing for their confidence.

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Post by James Hartley »

I would re-iterate what other people have said, the palawata is not realy anything that should be taught as a frontline, first time roll. If you really wish to teach it (for whatever reason) it should be as a fleshing out of skills, to someone who already has a solid C-C or screw roll. I tend to think of it more as a novelty roll, like butterfly rolls and clock rolls etc.
The hand roll is good if you are wishing to progress to playing polo, but as an early learning means of rolling, its to easy to ditch a paddle and hand roll, which on a river, is often pointless.
As a progresion of teaching, it should be pretty much as described by lil miss boater, moving from confidence building through the core skills (hip flick and paddle placement) to the full thing. What you need to decide is which roll you teach first, C-C or screw, they are good and bad points to teaching both first, but as much as it goads me to say it, the C-C is proabably the better on.
As an aside, you can not underestimate the power of video camera as a means of correction. It always helps to to able to see what your doing, and correct your mistakes from there, just make sure you inform the pool that you wish to you use a camera first!
Last edited by James Hartley on Tue Nov 15, 2005 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by JimmyP »

That DVD sounds really usefull. A few of my friends are having trouble learning to roll. What is it called, ill let them know about it.

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Post by Lil Miss Boater »

Im not sure its out yet, when i c him nxt I will ask and post sumat on here! there are lots of other ones out there i think. Have a search on amazon for any other books/vids perhaps??!?
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Post by jayno55 »

OK .. I'm currently learning rolling rather than teaching, but here are some sources of information that I think you will find very useful:

The latest and much advertised 'Ultimate Guide to Sea Kayaking' DVD by Ken Whiting is very professionally made and has an excellent section on Rolling. Very good, is the way the teaching of Rolling is related to (and shown to be evolved from) support strokes like braces and sculls. The cheapest UK supplier I could find is:


3a De Montfort Street



United Kingdom

0116 2543579

0116 2471176



Another Canadian-based DVD is '1st Roll: Eskimo Roll for Sea Kayakers' by Jay Babina. Although this is technically (i.e. from a film producer's/cameraman's perspective) a much more amateur-made film than Whiting's, it is entirely about Rolling, very detailed, and in my view excellent for its teaching steps. It concentrates on the Extended Paddle Roll as the 'most suitable' 1st Roll to learn (being the Roll that requires the least strength to complete, and the least effort in hip-snapping) and I think makes a good case for this choice. No doubt others will disagree. No-one supplies the DVD over here so I contacted Jay Babina direct by email and agreed a purchase & shipping price with him, then sent an international cheque. It wasn't the cheapest exercise, but I think the DVD is worth it. Goto:


If you want to check out (or show your students) some film shorts and animations of Rolling on the net, try these two sites (especially the first one):


http://www.unold.dk/paddling/php/copper ... hp?album=2 ... hp?album=2

Other sites with good drawings and explanations that I would recommend, are:


http://www.kcs.dircon.co.uk/mainSite/pa ... olling.htm ... olling.htm

http://www.schools.ash.org.au/daptohigh ... oll.htm#sr ... oll.htm#sr

http://gorp.away.com/gorp/publishers/me ... d_bomb.htm ... d_bomb.htm

http://www.nswseakayaker.asn.au/mag/45/ ... rills.html ... rills.html

jayno :-)

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Post by mharrall »

I had to resort to the Pawlatta roll when teaching someone in the pool last night. The subject in question is a mother of two young children and has been struggling with a screw roll / storm roll approach for months. She just can’t seem to understand what's needed, despite the best efforts of several different people having a go at teaching her. Anyway, last night we were once again getting nowhere so in desperation I suggested that we try a pawlatta roll. I figured it had to be worth a go as I could she that she was getting seriously demoralised with not being able to roll, especially as I had just successfully taught her husband how to roll on his right side having already mastered his left. So we went for a pawlatta roll with me guiding the blade, bingo a perfect roll first time. I let her have a go solo, and although not quite so good, she did make it up, however she was so surprised though that she let go of the paddle blade and toppled back in! Never mind, the main thing is that she is now buzzing with excitement at being able to do at least one kind of roll, at least some of the time. I hoping that we can move to an extended screw roll shortly and then eventually to a proper screw roll.

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Rich C
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Post by Rich C »

Thats basically the same way that I try to use pawlatta roll, although dealing with younger people who seem to expect to be able to roll first time or at most 2 sessions later it tends to come into use earlier. Personnally I find being able to show them this simple way of rolling and then moving them progressively further down the shaft till they are in the normal position better as it teaches the correct way to move the paddle whilst it is unneccessary to put in power. I have also found that people I teach this way end up with a better roll in the end as they are using technique and not just brute force to get back up, though that may just be because I find it easier to teach in this way and nothing to do with anything else.

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Post by mharrall »

True, the pawlatta does seem to promote a smooth low effort roll in the long run.

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Post by Mikey B »

Just wanted to agree with the point of being careful about teaching the handroll. I know paddlers who abandon their paddles and handroll straight away. Then they find themselves trying to run the rest of the river without paddles, always intresting.

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Post by Dave Thomas »

Mikey B wrote:I know paddlers who abandon their paddles and handroll straight away. Then they find themselves trying to run the rest of the river without paddles, always intresting.
Yep - been there - seen that happen!

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Post by Sam the assistant »

One thing that I have found is sometimes noddies get themsleves into a state because thy cannot screw roll, so you move their hands along the paddle and call it a pawlatta (sp?) this can help to break the psychological block that they have bulit up.

They are still learning a screw roll and they are following the rule that all paddle stroke have the hands in the same place on the shaft.
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Post by danc »

I am no a fan of the pawlatta roll but when was taught to roll we did hand rolls first to get the focus on the hip flick rather than the paddle doing all the work

I have a slight problem that one of the guys that I am coaching to roll. I have been teaching him in both a pool and in the sea but he can roll in the sea not with the best style but never the less a roll but not in the swimming pool. any help on that one!

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Post by planet »

Try pooing in the pool, next to your student - to simulate sea type sewage pollution. It might just work!

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