Finding it impossible to roll.

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Jamey M
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Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Jamey M »

Hello There, I wonder if anybody has been in this position and if they have any advice. I'm still struggling to roll after kayaking for a couple of years.I've tried all sorts, like watching DVDs, going on courses,practising at the the pool session.I've done all the usual things like practicing hip flicking off the sides of the pool off peoples hands etc.
I just cant do it and its getting to the point where Im getting despondent with the whole thing and am thinking about packing it in.
I've got no physical problems and am fairly fit etc. Any suggestions would be welcome.

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james fleming
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by james fleming »

jamey, my first bit of advice would be to get a 'good coach' that actually knows what they are doing and what they are talking about to help you. You have said you have ben on courses, but did the coach there do enough to help? You might need one to one.

Where are you staying? If you're in Stirling - Scotland area let me know and I'll help.

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Jim
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Jim »

Some people are just wired in a way that they will never really get rolling.

The important question is, can you manage without it?
For most people learning to roll is an important step to gain the confidence they need to work on the skills that stop them falling in so they never need to roll for real, some people are able to go on and develop those skills directly without ever mastering the roll itself.

Neil Farmer is a great example of this, when I first met him around 15 years ago he was actively paddling grade 4 and 5 rivers every weekend and almost never capsized, I soon discovered that the reason for this was that simply never really got the hang of rolling. I struggle to think of more than half a dozen occasions in 15 years where Neil has taken a swim, and I wasn't even there for all of those! We did work on his roll a bit at the end of river trips, I'm not sure if he ever really got a bombproof roll though, he goes for bombproof staying upright instead.

My kayak roll is bomproof (and I capsize about 100 times to 1 of Neils) but my canoe roll is non existant. I think I have got the ocoee up twice in total and on one of those occasions I know the paddle touched the bottom, and on the other I think it did. Despite the main bit of advice I got before my trip being to make sure I had a bombproof roll, I still had a great run down the grand canyon in a canoe only capsizing in 7 of the bigger rapids. In each capsize I was ripped from the boat so rapidly that rolling was never an option even if I had been able to!

So don't be dismayed if you can't get your head round rolling, just make sure you can get the rest of your game up to a suitable level for the rivers you are running.

damppaddler
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by damppaddler »

Which method of roll are you trying - C2C, sweep etc?

ajm
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by ajm »

Jamey M wrote:Hello There, I wonder if anybody has been in this position and if they have any advice. I'm still struggling to roll after kayaking for a couple of years.I've tried all sorts, like watching DVDs, going on courses,practising at the the pool session.I've done all the usual things like practicing hip flicking off the sides of the pool off peoples hands etc.
I just cant do it and its getting to the point where Im getting despondent with the whole thing and am thinking about packing it in.
I've got no physical problems and am fairly fit etc. Any suggestions would be welcome.
Don't pack in kayaking! :)

I'd second the advice given: find a good coach. Also, if you can, take a step back mentally. Being able to roll isn't everything. Some of my friends don't have bomb-proof rolls but they still enjoy the rivers we paddle.

I started reading this book recently (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kayak-Rolling-B ... 0953195686). It has some decent, practical advice on how to roll or improve an existing roll.

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Ieuan Belshaw
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Ieuan Belshaw »

This sounds like a silly idea, try to roll without your paddles or hands/arms. You'll end up engaging your hips a lot more.

Then give hand rolling a go.

If you do learn to hand roll then you can practice all day long using your paddles, if you fail... Just hand roll back up. It might not work but at least its not as demoralizing as swimming on every fail.
Ieuan :)

Jamey M
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Jamey M »

Hi Thanks for your replies,I'm not in Scotland unfortunately, but cheers for your offer.
I've concentrated most on the sweep, but have tried the C to C as well.With the sweep, I can do the sweep and the boat rotates but I cant get the boat all the way over.I can get it just up to on its side.
To be honest I want to be able to do it as I feel it puts people out having to help me when I have a swim and I find it embarassing as I'm not a very skilled kayaker either. I would like to be better generally. If I felt I had a reasonable chance of getting back up again then I wouldnt be as worried on the river.
The majority of my mates have got it within a few pool sessions and I just find it really difficult.

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by damppaddler »

Have you tried a pawlata?


It takes a bit of time to setup and once you recover your paddles will be in the wrong place to continue paddling i.e. not great for white water, however I think it is one of the most reliable and easiest rolls to lean, so once you have this mastered you can then start to move the paddles back to the normal position for a conventional sweep roll

I also find the pawlata is great for improving your hip snap and making sure you don't lift your head too soon

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BigPhil
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by BigPhil »

Where are you practising? What boat are you using.

If the boat is turning back upright you are doing something right. When this starts to happen keep your head down near the water and turn the boat with your hips.

Phil

PS Jim, Neil may have done OK rolling but he is a brave man and it didn't work out so well for him in Uganda where the big water meant a high chance of capsizing. Also the cold water in Scotland is a big incentive to stay right side up!

Jamey M
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Jamey M »

No I've not tried a Pawlata.

Im trying to roll with any boat at the club session.

kayak1
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by kayak1 »

The pawlata is the way to go, as is an instructor or someone with experience that can relate to what you are doing....the best advise I was given when learning was, when you are upside down, before you try and roll up ..try and get your head up a little to see the name or make of the boat on the side of the kayak then make the move..it worked for me!!!

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Wadhamite »

Jamey M wrote:Hi Thanks for your replies,I'm not in Scotland unfortunately, but cheers for your offer.
I've concentrated most on the sweep, but have tried the C to C as well.With the sweep, I can do the sweep and the boat rotates but I cant get the boat all the way over.I can get it just up to on its side.
To be honest I want to be able to do it as I feel it puts people out having to help me when I have a swim and I find it embarassing as I'm not a very skilled kayaker either. I would like to be better generally. If I felt I had a reasonable chance of getting back up again then I wouldnt be as worried on the river.
The majority of my mates have got it within a few pool sessions and I just find it really difficult.
It took me months to be able to roll, and some of my friends have got it the very first time they tried. Drove me up the bloody wall! If you can get the boat to rotate, then it sounds like it's technique and as the others have said, getting some one on one coaching might help you to convert it!

When I was learning, I got very frustrated with all my failed attempts, and took two approaches to this - one was that my coach wouldn't let me try any rolls for four weeks, so I would be less hung up on it next time I tried; and he also taught me some really weird 70s technique (or so I'm told...) where you tuck the paddle under your arm pit while rolling. That did something to change my technique (probably with my head and torso) that meant I could roll... and once I could roll that way, picking up my funny hybrid C2C/sweep roll I have now was a lot easier.

Another thought, if you haven't tried it... if you have a friend who has a waterpoof camera, get a video of what you're doing in the pool, and what friends who can roll are doing, and see if you can see the difference - might make the penny drop for you :)

Here's a video of me once I had that Eureka! moment
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by mountain_bikerider »

Having a a quick read of the advice above there is not a lot more I would add. But a couple of things for you. Some boats just roll better than others. Jacksons are renowned to be easy rolling boats and slab sided boats like the Little Joe harder to roll. If you are using pool or club boats then I would hazard a guess you haven't outfitted it for you. Connectivity is so important in the more dynamic strokes and rolling is one of them. If you are flapping about in the boat with little or no hip padding and struggling to touch the thigh braces it will make the task of rolling much harder. Either try using floats or those foam kids arm bands when you are at the pool as a short term measure or take / make some hip pads for the boats you use in the pool if you can't use your own boat or a regular club boat.
From your description (the boat coming up and you not) then I would suggest as above keeping your head under or on the water for as long as possible during the roll as the head coming up too early will always stop the momentum and make a successful roll really hard.

Lastly I personally wouldn't recommend the pawlata roll. In my opinion why learn something that for me has no practical application on White water. The setup is awkward and leaves you in a position after the roll that is not useful. For more leverage or as an alternative just shuffle your hands down the paddle shaft starting with your hand butted against the blade rather than holding the blade as in the pawlata. This way you can still paddle off normally after the roll and the setup is quicker and easier. The more confident you get just keep shuffling your hands until they are in normal position.(obviously harder with crank paddles!!!!)

Just get out and give it a go.

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Mark Dixon »

Learning to roll the easy way is get into playboating or surfing, you soon learn the techniques with a bit of guidance, also relax and forget your surroundings (not always easy I know), practicing going over on purpose at the bottom of rapids sorted mine out. A pool or flatwater roll is easy it takes time to step up to moving water.
Mark

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Wadhamite »

It wasn't even a pawlata roll (haven't found a video of a roll that's the same on youtube yet), and it's certainly not ideal - I would never use it on white water, because you have to change your grip. I just learned it as something fresh, it worked, and that meant that while practicing in the local river, I could try a sweep roll and it if failed, re-adjust and armpit roll. Quicker than waiting for an eskimo rescue or going swimming!
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Dave Manby »

Book a New Zealand Kayak School course - have a good holiday and come back with the perfect roll. Mick is the best rolling coach bar none that I know. He even ended up coaching people on our recent holiday trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon.

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by damppaddler »

mountain_bikerider wrote: Lastly I personally wouldn't recommend the pawlata roll.
The point is to learn a easy reliable roll, so when you progress to learning the sweep roll or c2c and it doesn't work, then you can get back up by reverting to a pawlata roll.

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

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LucyLou19
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by LucyLou19 »

firstly: avoid the pawlata roll at all costs
secondly: buy the black art of rolling dymystified
thirdly: get someone to film your roll
fourthly: troubleshoot

TBAORD is the bible for rolling, if you still cannot see the wood from the trees after doing this it is possibly time to buy in coaching- it could be the best £200 you ever spent for a 2 day course.

From a fellow kayaker who struggled rolling for ages, good luck!

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by BurrsRunner »

Where are you looking at the end of the sweep?

My guess is that you're looking forward with your head lifted (video footage of your roll attempts would be very helpful in determining exactly what is going wrong). In the meantime, continue attempting the sweep roll but don't stop sweeping until your active blade has nearly hit the stern and you are looking at your stern, also, hold a table tennis ball between your chin and shoulder on the active side...don't let go now! If you drop it, you've lifted your head.

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BigPhil
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by BigPhil »

I have to agree mick is a fantastic and brutal coach after 4 days of rolling, flat water and whitewater paddling I was exhausted. The Chris spelius rolling videos on youtube are also good but I haven't been to the futa...

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by TechnoEngineer »

Guys, please please please please please can we dispense with all of this snobbiness against using the Pawlata roll. It's just another tool in the box that can be used.

I use it frequently, at Hurley, Lee Valley, Tryweryn, etc.

Let me outline my thoughts on it (both Pawlata and "extended" style):

Disadvantages:
1) If you use it when initially learning to roll, you can become reliant on its leverage and not develop a good "hip flick".
2) When you come up, you can only brace on one side. This can be mitigated, though, by not coming up fully, leaning on the paddle as an extended brace.

Advantages:
1) Preferable to do a Pawlata than swim
2) If someone can't get the hang of learning to roll "properly", Pawlata (or otherwise Greenland Techniques) provides another option
3) Your arms are kept close to your body. During a standard roll, the bottom arm is pointing away from the body, leaving the underside of the shoulder at risk of being impacted by rocks in shallow water.
4) In foamy water, the extension allows the blade to "grip" solid, deep water. As per the "storm" roll in Greenland Technique.
5) If you've pushed yourself off a rock and capsized, or had to let go of the paddle with one hand, chances are, you'll not be holding the paddle normally. There's so much leverage with the Pawlata style that you can be holding your paddle upside-down and back-to-front, and still be able to roll up with it. I've seen people go over holding the paddle with one hand, and then faffing about trying to restore their normal grip. Only to run out of breath and swim.

In terms of recommendations:
1) DVD - "The Kayak Roll" (Performance Video)
2) DVD - EJs "Rolling and Bracing"
3) Book - The Bombproof Roll and Beyond
4) DVD - "This is the Roll" for Greenland technique.

Also, I didn't find "The Black art of rolling dymystified" very useful when learning to roll. It does have useful tips for coaches, though.

It may be the case that you're not using any body rotation, and trying to do all of the work with your arms. Often when I help people out with their rolling, I'll ask them to demonstrate a draw stroke. Most of those who don't rotate their body when doing a draw stroke, have trouble with their roll.....
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by TechnoEngineer »

Wadhamite wrote:Here's a video of me once I had that Eureka! moment http://www.youtube.co.uk/watch?v=FDb9GW_Nj9M
When you set up, you need to be bending your forearm more, and trying to get your elbow over the side the of the boat (body curl and shoulder rotation).
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ajm
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by ajm »

damppaddler wrote:Have you tried a pawlata?
Interesting, the book I recommended earlier advises against using this type of roll. I don't have the book to hand so can't remember exactly what it said...

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by TechnoEngineer »

Another advantage:
6) If the paddler finds it difficult to get the top hand under the hull (e.g. boxy hulls such as Hoss / Lil Joe) that issue can be avoided completely using Pawlata style.
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Wadhamite »

TechnoEngineer wrote:
Wadhamite wrote:Here's a video of me once I had that Eureka! moment http://www.youtube.co.uk/watch?v=FDb9GW_Nj9M
When you set up, you need to be bending your forearm more, and trying to get your elbow over the side the of the boat (body curl and shoulder rotation).
The video is pretty old now, and I imagine my roll has changed, and I also now have an offside roll that is as reliable as my on-side (and I use it on WW) but has a different technique... when I look back at that video, I think "bend forwards more!". But the point is - with the video, I can see what I am (and am not) doing. Would probably help the OP to have the same perspective from being videoed!
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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by mountain_bikerider »

TechnoEngineer wrote:Guys, please please please please please can we dispense with all of this snobbiness against using the Pawlata roll. It's just another tool in the box that can be used.
I dont think i would call it snobiness. I just think the same can be achieved by just moving your hands down the paddle shaft in a normal grip without using the hand around the blade. By keeping a normal extended grip you get the
advantage of leverage without cutting your hands up on the rough paddle blade and you can still paddle fairly normally after the roll all be it slightly lopsided!!!!!

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Jim »

TechnoEngineer wrote:Guys, please please please please please can we dispense with all of this snobbiness against using the Pawlata roll. It's just another tool in the box that can be used.
I haven't expressed an opinion yet, but if I do it will not be based on snobbiness but experience of teaching people to roll where I generally found that those who had started to learn to roll by Pawlata previously took longer to adapt to the more useful screw roll than people starting fresh. I believe a major factor is that Pawlata allows one to roll using brute strength without any technique at all, just using pot luck will get you up often, and people thus end up focussing on the wrong aspects of the roll.

Once you have a reliable screw roll I think it is defintely worth learning all the others including Pawlata and Steyr because it is always useful to have them in the toolbox and any different stroke or exercise will extend the periphal range of movement and positions your body knows it can get into should something unusual occur, thus providing enhanced ability to adapt to situations and make up effective strokes to suit them ad-hoc.

If I were to express an opinion about using it as a first roll in a teaching situation, that opinion would be that for most people I haven't found it useful, and can often make the process take longer. But I can already see that the OP has attracted a lot of conflicting and confusing information so I'm going to hold back.

A good instructor will have a whole range of different ways to teach rolling because they will have found that different people learn in a whole bunch of different ways and that they need to modify their teaching method to suit the individual. I would therefore recommend looking around for other instructors in your area, the one who is most able to change their approach to teaching you until they find a way that works is the one you are looking for. And don't worry too much about which roll they end up teaching you, once you have one it is more easy to adapt to other techniques. Pawlata is one of the last rolls I used to try when I was instructing for the reasons I haven't expressed above, but sometimes it is the right roll for the pupil.

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by Junior »

Just a couple of small tips that helped me do my first roll..

1.Wear a scuba mask-this will help you see exactly what your doing underwater and give you a better idea of where your blade is going.
2.Get the coach to hold the end of your paddle guiding it out into the right position before you hip snap. They can keep hold of it to start off with to give you something to push against until your happy doing it by yourself. This way you can concentrate getting the hip flick sorted wihout worrying too much on the sweep.

I think its a case of building each stage up slowly before putting it all together. Dont get me wrong, i'm certainly not an expert (or any good for that matter!) and can generally only roll in a pool environment, but practice will make perfect!

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Re: Finding it impossible to roll.

Post by DaveWortley »

Learn to skull for support, half a skull is a screw roll, the other half of a skull is a reverse screw roll, get used to keeping the paddle on the surface of the water, most peoples' problems stem from sinking the blade too much.

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