It can seem impossible to roll up in one direction if being pushed by a wave, but what becomes more instinctive is sticking the paddle up into the vortexing frenzy, getting some purchase, moving with the wave and letting the wave roll you up. This is speaking from small surf dedicated kayaks and waveskis.
What seems more important is to have a forward and reverse roll. If you miss the forward roll you can immediately go for the reverse roll. With a small surf boat it's probably more important to learn how to surf out of a thrashing when you are getting window shaded by a big wave. I have two crappy rolls on one side - and two really crappy rolls on the other side which I rarely use, and yet I have a blast in the surf.
The concept is you don't get knocked over and start thinking about your roll, you just go with the flow to keep your boat surfing with the wave, and your head where you can breathe.
Recreational Kayak Paddle
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