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  Rolling Fear Factor Update
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-26-05 1:28 PM (EST)
   Category: Kayaking Technique 

If this topic interests you, and you haven't read my previous rolling fear factor posts, search the archives for "Fear Factor".

This week's observations:

I'm making good progress when it comes to squelching my monkey brain's constant screetching about flipping over, hanging upside down, and performing a paddle float half roll from the 90 degree position. However, I still have to work on getting comfortable with the setup position for a sweep.

The warm (almost hot) water really helps.

Going off the fear factor aspect of these weekly excercises, my paddling partner ShellBack (an avid reader) gracioously offered to observe and critique as I practiced. He observed that I wasn't keeping my head down sometimes, which I corrected, and, that I was relying too heavily on the paddle over righting with my hips, which I've got to work on. An educated eye sure helps with to keep the mechanics of the roll in check while I focus on making rolling practice less fearsome.

More posts to follow..Lou

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Messages in this Topic


  Too much "thinking" and "method"!
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-26-05 2:26 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-26-05 7:55 PM EST --

Here's a bit of "tough love" commentary/speculation...

I really have my doubts as to the ultimate advantage of trying to learn your first basic roll in carefully choreographed "stages" (especially spread over so many weeks!); like using a dock/poolside/paddle float for assisting a partial roll, etc. In fact, I think you're "over thinking" all of this to a ridiculous degree...from the "fear" aspect to the actual techniques.

The only reason to learn the "theory of the roll" is so that you can get to the point of transcending all the theoretical gobbledygook and irrational fears and *just do it already*! :-) I'm really not kidding! Just watching you hem and haw over this for the past several weeks makes me wonder what's really causing your glacial progress.

Perhaps you're suffering from the same thing that makes many of us adults think that learning a new language is so much harder as an adult (as opposed to how easily young children seem to pick up languages with just a bit of exposure). In fact, it's not any more difficult for adults; we've just convinced ourselves that there's an "adult way" to learn something, and that it has to be just so-and-so. Well, when we think like that, of course whatever we're trying to learn is going to seem complicated and very difficult. We still *have* the capability to learn like a child does, we've just decided to forget and/or ignore how effective it can be!

About three months after I started paddling, a friend came out to visit for a weekend. In a local bay (no pool sessions for me!), he gave me one half hour rolling instruction session. My first roll was 15 minutes into this session. We never used a paddle float, nor a dock or pool ladder, etc.

I had already spent some time reading books, looking at diagrams, and "air rolling" on my living room floor (imagining that I was upside down), so I had some idea of the basic concepts involved. Once my friend gave me some last minute pointers, and spent just a few minutes evaluating my first few attempts, I was rolling on my own! Ever since then, I've "taught myself" (well, with the help of books and videos) to roll a few different ways.

I really believe that your biggest obstacle here is your own mind; you're "psyching yourself out". Your mind can calculate to the Nth degree all that goes into a roll, but at the end of the day, it's your body that will have to do it, and have to remember how to do it again when you really do need it (and perhaps don't have time to "think").

If you're uncomfortable hanging upside down, all you can do is hang upside down enough so that you're no longer uncomfortable with it. No more whining, please. :-) And, since I'm sure you've analysed every movement of a successful roll many times over in your mind, it's time to empty your mind and finally let your body do what it knows it's supposed to do. Again...drop the props (no paddle float, no dockside or poolside ladders, no one holding onto and guiding your paddle, etc). Roll already! :-)


  For some...
  Posted by: wilsoj2 on Jul-26-05 2:42 PM (EST)
tough love may work. lalleluia has been working hard and been generous enough to share the experience.

A few learn easily and quickly. Many take much longer.

The most important advance in this last post from lalleluia is having someone observe to give feedback.

The two weaknesses mentioned (head up too soon and not enough hip snap) are the most common problems that kill a roll. Sometimes it requires an observer to spot the issues.
  I agree Melissa
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-26-05 2:53 PM (EST)
that this whole matter is only in my mind.

Just to recap a little, I have rolled before in more than one rolling class, and, no doubt, could again with an instructor beside me.

My posts are about desensitization more than mechanics, and for me, I've found that this requires time and repetition.

This may not make sense to you, and I think it's because you were able to "just do it" and I have not. When I try to "just do it", it results in a lot of non-productive trashing caused by panic. I know more than a couple of people who have gone to rolling class, learned to roll, and never practice afterwards because they are uncomfortable doing so.

I do appreciate your comments...Lou
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-26-05 3:30 PM (EST)

You're far more gracious than I would be. So now you've impressed me not just with your diligence and effort in learning to roll but with your composure on this board, as well.

Best of luck to you. I don't have any advice to offer, but I've followed your saga, and am rooting for you.

  A little patience
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-26-05 3:01 PM (EST)
And little less lecturing, maybe? It's great that someone can be comfortable enough to execute the correct manuvers for a roll within a short time of going over to start with. But it's not correct that everyone can. Irrational responses are just that - irrational, deeply seated and extremely difficult to get control over. It often takes chipping away at them.

Lou, I suspect that you will find that you can keep your head down and rely more on your hips to finish the roll at about the same pace that you get more relaxed hanging around under water, and/or going back under for repetitive tries. It really makes sense that those are your issues considering that anxiety is a starting problem. If you think about it, the last half of the roll where your body is closer to the surface is exactly where the flight response is most likely to kick in. So the head wants to come up and the lower body gets distracted and stops the roll.

Just one easy thing that I forget to do half the time, and am working on remembering myself for resolving roll problems... between tries, kinda wrap up around the side of the boat, relying about half on the flotation of your PFD and exposed body and resting a hand lightly on the bottom of the boat. Take a few calm breaths, think about what you are doing next physically, then go down for another try. It's a very basic Greenland manuver which I wish I hadn't been too dim to figure out myself when I was starting.
  This Sounds Great!
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-26-05 3:25 PM (EST)
I'm trying to visualize the Greenland maneuver. Is the paddle parallel to the boat, or have you angled it out a bit to get your hand on the hull. This sounds like a wonderful next step.

Thanks much Celia!
  Petrussen Maneuver
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-26-05 3:46 PM (EST)
I think she may be referring to the Petrussen Maneuver a great idea.
However, you should realize that it is difficult for many people to do. If you can't do it (and I still can't) you could keep a float nearby (or better a spotter's boat) and hang onto it to rest between attempts.

  Very difficult for some...
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-26-05 6:16 PM (EST)
...and as with many things - equipment matters.

I cannot even beging to do this in my kayak, yet I can roll on both sides with any paddle I've tried. I can't balance brace my boat either - but it's a snap in lower volume boats.

Most commercial skirts don't allow you to come out enough to do this and still keep a seal like a tuliq will either.
  Skirt for Petrussen
  Posted by: gstamer on Jul-27-05 3:57 PM (EST)
The key to the Petrussen is rotating your body (including shifting around so that your butt is somewhat on the side of the seat). Roomy kayaks require little torso rotation (you can shuffle around more), narrow kayaks usually require more torso rotation since your lower body is more constricted.

Although a tuilik lets you cheat, you don't need to be extended more than an inch or so away from the seat. It's easiest in a tuilik due to the freedom of motion, but my neoprene skirts work just fine. All the nylon skirts I have tried popped off the coaming.

Greg Stamer
  body position?
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-27-05 4:14 PM (EST)
I've been pulling up towards the chine. My face is about an inch underwater, a small movement with one hand pops me up to breathe. I'm sure once drysuit season returns I'll have enough buoyancy to make it easy. My akuilisaq doesn't restrict motion, but the cockpit is relatively tight

Looking at the photo I'm wondering if I should be pushing away from the chine to move my torso further from the boat, rather than pulling up? I'll give that a try tomorrow evening.

  body position
  Posted by: gstamer on Jul-27-05 5:10 PM (EST)
I pull down on the hull (like performing a pull-up). This is a fairly minor point, IMO. It's more about finding the right body position that allows your head to easily clear the surface. Even your legs come into play.

Greg Stamer
  Finally got it today
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-28-05 10:42 PM (EST)
I pulled out the slab of foam I put under my masik and that let me twist around far enough to make the Petrussen Maneuver work at last. I couldn't make it work with the foam in place.

Anyone having trouble with this technique may want to try it in a looser fitting boat and/or loose sprayskirt.

  all sorts of ways...
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-26-05 3:32 PM (EST)

There's a wide range of styles and techniques for learning rolls.

A paddle float can be a useful tool.

It helped me by allowing me to focus less (a lot less) on the paddle. It also let me focus on the head lifting problem.

Once you get a roll, you can use the paddle float as a reserve (ie, keep it in bound).
  Lose the paddle float
  Posted by: schizopak on Jul-26-05 3:49 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-26-05 3:51 PM EST --

I know it's a personal preference and people have had success with the paddle float method, but my personal opinion is that it prolongues the learning process by inhibiting understanding of one of the top reasons a roll fails, namely blade angle (the other reasons are death grip, lifting head, and not following the blade with your body). If you don't become comfortable with how the water pressure is affecting the blade and how the angle affects a sweep, you are doing yourself a disservice. My recommendation is to grab a buddy, lose the paddle float, use an extended paddle and work on false sweeps until you get the feeling of the sweep. Then work on extended paddle rolls in its entirety with a buddy to bow rescue or flip you up in shallow water. If you don't have a buddy, wet exit, dump and try again. A paddle float actually fights the motion of a sweep roll and it's a pretty poor training aid in regards to learning the motion. Just my two cents.

  It's the Petrussen manuver and
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-26-05 4:24 PM (EST)
Re the manuver I indicated - yes it's what is in the picture. Can't tense up though - if so I put too much weight on the boat's hull and pull it back over myself. Hence making it kinda hard to get that deep breath unless I grow gills.

For it to work, I have to be careful to relax and let the water itself float some of my torso weight. The rest of the position I hold a little less purely than in the photo by using my abs more and having the hands less aligned over the bottom of the boat than pictured. (One holding the paddle.) I take any hand and torso position that keeps my nose above water.

Granted it takes some flexibility and practice to float off the side of the boat. But it provides a huge opportunity to stop and get your act together without having the drag the boat out and dump it. It also gives you a chance to collect your thoughts in the riskier situation of having abandoned the paddle float. And I think it's easier than the static brace, which I just recently got down but takes a ton of flexibility and is a learning effort in itself.

Annd re use of the paddle float - I agree that at some point you have to let it go because it teaches bad habits in terms of paddle angle. It doesn't teach the sensation of correct resistence on the paddle blade, or penalize the paddler for not holding a cocked wrist, and I ended up having to resolve a bodacious diving paddle problem when I took it off.

But fixing a diving paddle, or lifting head or any of the other stuff that can kill a roll requires that you be able to relax enough while doing it to see what your body is doing and make the corrections. Until the brain is sufficiently desensitized that upside down activities don't involve near panic all the time, it's darned near impossible for the paddler to make those corrections. So the downsides of using the paddle float may be the price that has to be paid to get to the right state of mind.

And frankly, just about everyone I've spoken to who hard a real tough time with the roll eventually got madder than they were anxious (including me) and blew thru a lot of problems very quickly. I suspect that'll happen with Lou at some point, but there's no way of making that happen sooner by advice. It's a very individual reaction.
  Not wrong but...
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-26-05 4:33 PM (EST)
I agree that the paddle float won't help too much with the blade angle (an important element). It can help with the other components.

A important part of a successfull roll is low pressure on the paddle. One can use a float to explore this. If you use the float as a reserve (on the in-bound side), you can explore the blade angle stuff.

My problem is that I don't necessarily have people who can assist me.
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-26-05 4:44 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-26-05 4:52 PM EST --

Definitely a good idea to explore sweep braces!

If you are using a "Euro" paddle, an extended paddle is unnecessary (and a crutch) (in my opinion).

I suspect that a common cause of the "diving paddle" problem is pulling down on the paddle. The paddle float helped me with this because I could take the time to move the paddle across the surface rather than trying to pull myself up by pulling the paddle down.

One problem I had was trying to do things too quickly. The paddle float lets you slow things down.

Of course, the idea is to lose the float!

  regarding extended paddle
  Posted by: schizopak on Jul-26-05 5:08 PM (EST)
Yes it eventually becomes unneccesary but if someone is trying to learn alone, it provides them the best chance of success as it is more forgiving of poor form. Once you have the extended paddle, it can become your backup roll for learning other rolls. In regards to a diving paddle, along with pulling down/across the body, a big problem is that many people put a climbing angle on their paddle in order to sweep which results in a diving paddle.
  Sure, what the heck...
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-26-05 5:48 PM (EST)
Try that too!
  Float make people do pull ups!
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-26-05 6:19 PM (EST)
That in itself is counter productive. Lack of paddle feel is secondary to the damage it does with getting a decent hip snap and timing.
  I see your point.
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-27-05 2:55 PM (EST)
Certainly, my paddle is very different in shape from my paddle float. the reason that I'm persuiing the paddle float route is because I was able to progress to a successful roll using this method in class, and was able to roll afterwards in another class using both my boat and paddle.

I'm using the "nothing succeeds like success" strategy. If that doesn't work, I'll try something else.

  Sounds familiar
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-26-05 6:29 PM (EST)
In person is always better but these are the same pointers everyone else has been giving you.

I really liked watersprites rather concise: "drop the props". As I and others have noted before, they are WHY you are still using your arms too much!!!

If repetition really works for you - you've got to be close to a breakthrough because many people keep telling you the same things.

The people who keep chiming in with comments about how some just learn things easy, as if they don't count and their advice doesn't apply, are NOT helping you. Those quick studies are the ones you need to listen too most. The only thing they had an easier time with was ignoring all the things that DON'T roll you up.
  Lou, you DON'T have a rolling problem
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-26-05 6:43 PM (EST)
Fact is - you have water related issues that prevent you from using the rolling advice you are given.

Water issues - not rolling issues.

REALLY back this up and go to square one. You keep hammering at steps 3-8, but never got OK with 1 & 2. Until you do, it can't work. Even if the roll comes, and fairly well - it will likely leave again unless you get the other issues under control.

You need to work on comfort in the water, underwater, swimming, in and out of the kayak, taking your time, extending how long you can go on a breath, more wet exits, more non-roll rescues, and most importantly - NOT ALONE.

People with water issues should NOT practice alone. Always have at least an observer.

I am concerned your valiant efforts may actually be ingraining and strengthening your fears. The harder you work the more at risk you feel and the bigger the fears get. This is the only thing that can explain such diligence and lack of progress.

Water work first. Then come back to the roll. I know you think this is what you're doing with the ropes and floats - but these complications are just diversions/crutches. Back up and do this right. It should not be this hard. Once you're more OK in the water in general things should come much more easily.

Most of the other hard cases were the same way. Water issues that got in the way. Some of them here are only enabling your fears to go on with their well meaning support, while playing down clear and simple advice from those who learned more quickly. Yes the other slow learners can relate to you, and you to them, but they keep you in the same struggling mindset.

All of this is exactly as hard as you expect it to be. Right now, that's a lot harder than it needs to be.
  Your Point Is Well Taken
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-27-05 4:12 PM (EST)
It's more of an entrapment under water issue. Wet exit practice sounds like it might help.

Thanks Greyak,

  Do it until it's boring
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-27-05 6:01 PM (EST)
(Sorry, another long one)

Do it until it's boring.

Do it until it's automatic.

Do it until it's less challenging than taking off your pants.

Do it until it's as comforting as pulling up the covers on a cool night.

Do it until you find yourself using the time doing it to assess that last roll attempt, or think about the next, or what you're going to have for dinner, or whatever. ust like you would while riding a bike or going for a walk. When you catch yourself daydreaming like this, while still performing the task at hand, you're calm enough.

Most of all:

Exit SLOWLY! Calm and orderly, in full control of boat, blade, and body. ***Going slow and easy is what keeps the panic away and convinces your monkey brain things are OK.*** Slow and smooth movements also conserve oxygen and keep you from getting banged up and tired too quickly. Be equally calm and measured in your reentries, for the same reasons (plus it's just easier to do them this way).

Some people are naturally calm like this. Some are after just a couple exits (helps if someone tells you to GO SLOW! from the beginning). Others take a lot of practice to get to where it's a non-issue. Perfectly normal.

This is where you also need to practice delaying the exit. Build up how long you can wait inverted before exiting. You will be able to make good use of the "hang time" you develop once you get back to working on the roll. Hang time can also be used to tuck up into setup and back a few times (and lean forward, or back onto rear deck, etc.). This not only helps with getting a good feel for the setup position and your buoyancy in setup - it teaches you to go to setup from any position after you find yourself inverted. You can also play around with the paddle while down there, moving it out of and back into proper setup - stowing or abandoning it and getting your spare.

Start slow and simple (just watch the fish) and get more creative as you work up to having more time. The more you do this sort of slow underwater orientation play now, the less of an issue it will be when you move on.

Wet exits are not separate from rolling practice. They are not taking time away from rolling practice. Any and all playing around with your kayak directly helps your rolling. It reinforces that capsizes are not really accidents/emergencies in themselves, and that nothing is "wrong" if your kayak is not upright. Kayaks are made to be enjoyed at all angles.

Remember to practice getting the skirt off without the grab loop too. You want 100% calm confidence that you can do a leisurely and controlled exit every time - no matter what may be going on.

If you want to mix in some hip flick and sweep practice - I'd again suggest Jay Babina's methods in his "1st Roll" video. This way you can work on these without wet exits, and without direct assistance, but still using relatively correct form and no props.
  Greyak's right
  Posted by: krousmon on Jul-26-05 7:28 PM (EST)
For once.

You're a kayaker who's scared of the water. This is definitely a problem. You need to master the skills in dealing with a failed roll (wet exit, swim, re-entry) until you're comfortable with your ability to deal with "NOT BEING ABLE TO (((IMEDIATELY))) ESCAPE THE WATER BY ROLLING". You are so uptight and obsessed with GETTING OUT OF THE WATER AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE that you are rushing and blowing your rolls.

Work on capsizing, wet exiting, wet re-entry and wet exiting... back and forth until you are comfortable.

Forget the roll.
  I think Lou said that
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-27-05 7:47 AM (EST)
The guy said that he knew he had to desensitise to (under)water issues several posts up. And that's what he is doing, practicing things like partial rolls etc that increase his habit and comfort at staying in the boat for a bit.

As to practicing alone... it's best if possible. But having myself had the choice between losing whatever progress I had just made by waiting for a time when I had help, or going out myself and just doing what I could, you have to take your best shot. The right kind of help isn't always around when you have the time. And at some point everyone has to learn to solve problems on their own, because "having" the roll will wobble back and forth for a while at first.
  I disagree
  Posted by: mario on Jul-27-05 8:33 AM (EST)
Greyak gave him the best advise when he said don't practice alone.

Somebody so afraid of the water should not "play" without an observer.

If help is not available.......... wait another day. There is always time for learning.
  Fear of
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-27-05 10:08 AM (EST)
Maybe I am mising something here, but I am not reading a huge fear of the water. It doesn't seem there is an issue with swimming, or being underwater per se, just with the specifics of waiting in the darned boat and setup etc for the roll. That is a different thing, though hardly anyone gets it.

And yes, practicing alone has to be done with a great deal of attention to exactly what someone can and can't handle that day. But that also seems to be happening, from someone who appears to be a thoughtful (maybe overly much) adult.

Lou has been kind enough to share hesitations and concerns that I know many paddlers contemplating learning a roll have, but are reluctant to share because this topic is often dominated by people for whom it came easily. Frankly there is at least one person in my workplace that paddles local rivers who I wish would read this stuff. I have not been able to convice him that a lot of people start out with extraordinary degrees of anxiety and are able to overcome that. Between his extremely high anxiety and his belief that he must be the only one who is so afraid, I haven't been able to get him to practice even one wet exit despite numerous offers of a safe place and assistance to try it. Of course, there is no way to keep him out of the boat either. So, I keep trying...
  "dominated by people...
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-27-05 2:11 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-27-05 2:35 PM EST --

... for whom it came easy." ???

You really need to get off that kick Celia. Why do you keep discounting the advice from the very people who can probably help him the most?

Your co-dependent support group approach is all warm and fuzzy but does nothing to help when he's cold and wet. It reinforces that it is hard. What others are trying to say is it doesn't have to be if you're actually ready. It doesn't sound like Lou is.

All had some mix of the same issues as everyone else while learning. What matters here is that some responded to these issues differently - and because of that the ones who had the most different experience and learned the fastest might just be in the best position to get him out of his rut.

Those of us you like to lump into that "easy" category come in all varieties. I would not call my pre-rolling efforts "easy". I actually got no better by practicing (though the muscles were learning a bit - and I was getting used to things underwater more).

My very first attempt was actually better than nearly all that came after, even a year later. One day I finally dropped what I though was supposed to happen and simply felt what was actually going on. I had to relax and slow it down to feel it first, then Bang! - there it was. No noticeable improvement along the way at all really. No incrementally getting closer. It was more of a breakthrough than a progression (though I'm sure some sort of shaky foundation was built as I flailed about doing it wrong all those times). The most notable thing was the ease of rolling compared to all the struggles of trying to roll up to that point.

Lou still insists on struggling (and you seem to think this is good). Until he stops this the roll will elude him - or he'll get a very forced and unreliable roll. He needs to trust us when we tell him he needs to be relaxed.

"hardly anyone gets it" ??? Right now Lou is the one not getting it - and hammering on the "specifics" are messing him up even more. He needs to work on more basic comfort issues (as he is - but even simpler - without even trying all the other stuff).

Until he's comfortable to the point of not even thinking about getting out or getting air (because he knows that's a given - AFTER the attempts) he won't be able to relax enough to feel what all those specifics are really about. He'll miss the point that it all integrates into one smooth easy motion that is not really that different from any other stroke.

Coddle all you want, but you have your roll. Would people telling you it's supposed to be hard and that it's OK to ignore proven advice have helped you get yours any faster? Would continuing to do counterproductive work despite many telling you not to (and telling you WHY not to) have helped you?

Maybe Lou doesn't have water issues (but most sane people are adverse to potential drownings). Maybe it's claustrophobia. It doesn't matter really. What matters is there are often things that need to be addressed BEFORE learning to roll if the roll is to be learned effectively. If it's NOT easy - something is wrong.

Forgive me for wanting to identify that and weed it out.

No one is attacking Lou. We all offer what we have to offer in the way we think gets across most effectively. Everyone who has participated in Lou's threads has done so out of a sincere interest in his progress. It's pretty obvious from his posts he understands that. Why can't you?

As for not practicing alone - it goes beyond common sense. As you have noted, Lou needs support. Well, he needs it on the water a lot more than he needs it here. I assume I am more comfortable in the water, and I almost always paddle alone so I'm used to that too, but try as I might I really couldn't get myself to practice this stuff alone. I didn't really need help, just someone there. I'll practice alone now because I have no doubt I'll roll up, and no doubt that if I don't I have other options and none of it's a big deal. Even so, I still hesitate when it's just me. I really think Lou needs to keep that one hesitation out of the picture for a while.

As for that co-worker that won't practice basic skills: What are you thinking Celia!!!! I'd not only offer to help him learn as you have, I'd also simply refuse to paddle with him until he did! I just can't condone someone paddling who is to afraid to even wet exit. I see it as a requirement - not an option. I wouldn't stop him from doing whatever he wants to on his own (big boy and all), but I certainly wouldn't just let him slide! By paddling with him you are providing a false sense of security and enabling unsafe behavior.

Hey, Lou - while were at it, got any pictures of your cockpit outfitting?

  100% agree
  Posted by: schizopak on Jul-27-05 2:25 PM (EST)
The concept that rolling is "hard" and an "advanced move" has prevented way too many paddlers from learning it. It IS easy, it IS a basic skill, and to reiterate what has been said several times, if it's hard, you're doing it wrong. I have worked with many beginner kayakers on rolling and have worked with people who are terrified of water, arm rollers, poor habits from other classes/videos, etc. Although I may had to spend an additional 15-30 minutes with them to unlearn bad habits, the basic roll came soon afterwards. Sort of like EJ's 15 minute roll guarantee, I have never had a student not learn to roll extremely quickly when taught properly.

Lou, you know we're all rooting for you, but all your efforts seem misguided as they are not actually bringing you closer to rolling but rather further away.
  Actually, I'm not expecting guidance
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-27-05 4:57 PM (EST)
although it is much appreciated.

I just think that there are more than a few people reading these threads who share this problem and may be encouraged to persist and take one or more of the advice given here, and maybe learn to roll after all. Heck, if any of these people live in western Long Island, we could work together if you want.

  Anything can be said to be easy.
  Posted by: wilsoj2 on Jul-27-05 5:01 PM (EST)
However, something that often takes aspirants extended effort and time can reasonably be referred to as difficult or hard.

I think the hardest thing in getting a roll is all the aspects happening at the right time in the right way. It seems that most times when someone misses a roll, it is one identifiable thing that caused the roll to fail.

My failed rolls are almost always weak hip snap (often ending it too soon)or bringing my head up. I 'know' each component of the roll (at least C2C and extended) but have yet to pattern to memory so it all always happens as and when it should.

Once I even sculled up onto my rear deck effortlessly, but have yet to replicate it well - practice and muscle memory
  Rolling is easy, learning may be hard.
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-27-05 5:18 PM (EST)
Rolling is very easy; I should qualify this to say that at least some rolls, such as the screw roll or Pawlata, are very easy. Learning to roll however can be difficult, the motions are counterintuitive and being uncomfortable hanging underwater upside down holding your breath complicates the process. Anyone having difficulty learning should try to remember that once youíve learned the sequence of motions, and practiced until they become smooth and automatic, rolling your boat will become easy and it is worth the effort.

  No Special Outfitting
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-27-05 4:48 PM (EST)
A Stock Nighthawk 16'
  I don't paddle with that coworker
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-27-05 5:02 PM (EST)
And I don't think I said I did. I am aware of his issues from talking with him about his paddling and have made many offers to get together after work in a little shallow water and help.
  Sorry if I misread your comments
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-27-05 6:07 PM (EST)
Keep up the effort.

It can be hard to stress the importance and still get accross these are fairly basic and easy skills. The more you press them the more their fears creep in and the more resistant they get. People are funny that way.
  A question for you Lou
  Posted by: rwven on Jul-27-05 2:24 PM (EST)
Do you wear a dive/snorkel mask when you practice? If not it might help some with the sudden urge to get to the surface.
  Didn't say it was hard guys
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-27-05 3:53 PM (EST)
I don't believe I've ever said rolling per se was hard, though I know some who argue that it is. Personally I have always found the concepts and and the individual components of it frustratingly easy, if those were the only things involved. It's getting to the state of mind, and the folks who have actually worked with me hardly call my approach warm or fuzzy.

I have said it takes some people more time to get that all together. You can argue about whether it should take more time endlessly, but I very much doubt that it'll change the fact that people have different learning paths.
  Maybe an email list
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-27-05 4:14 PM (EST)
Just an idea Lou, if you sign in and find this all a bit silly.
  Not Sure I Follow Celia
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-27-05 5:01 PM (EST)
What kind of an e-mail list?

  Mask & Nose Clips
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-27-05 4:58 PM (EST)
Tey make a big difference. Of course, I'll have to shed them some day.

  If so easy why 85% lose it?
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-27-05 10:39 PM (EST)
Perhaps from lack of practice, but it suggests that really learning it, that is beyond the mechanical basics and getting out of the water is not nearly sufficient to be able to employ it in real conditions. Many sources, i.e., Sea Kayaker, etc. have cited statistics that show a very small number of kayakers who profess to be able to roll can do so when in real life circumstances.

As in many areas of life, those of us who take somewhat longer to learn it may actually have an advantage as they really break it down into componnents and really get it integrated.

Having repractice hand rolling lately I find once again flaws in my different rolling styles. Any complex skill is something that needs to be learned really well and then maintained and improved upon. It is what makes it all stay fresh and fun.
  I can think of two reasons...
  Posted by: greyak on Jul-27-05 11:40 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-27-05 11:44 PM EST --

.. people lose it:

1. Winter (for those that don't paddle year 'round) and other long breaks.

2. They learned it the hard way, struggling all the way, and learned a tentative and shaky roll requiring a lot of attention to all the details and everything being just so to pull it off. The roll was working but shaky and rushed to begin with vs. being relaxed, letting the water do most of the work, and having roll power to spare.

There are probably other reasons. New gear, health issues, etc.

The bonus reason: 85% learn the C to C!!!

I always have the standard Greenland roll to fall back on, and it's so reliable and easy I have a hard time imagining losing it. Would be like forgetting how to ride a bike. I don't doubt it could happen someday though.

Missing rolls is not the same as losing your roll. Flat water play vs. rolling in conditions is a separate but related issue. Once things are good on flat it's time to take it to more textured water. This is where I'm at now.

  My Instructor Disagrees With #2
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-28-05 8:59 AM (EST)
She says that the people who learn quickly generally have poorer technique (muscle it more) that those who have to work harder at it (she claims to be one of the later).

  disagree from my personal perspective
  Posted by: schizopak on Jul-28-05 9:31 AM (EST)
I learned to roll fairly quickly (one class session) but then I followed that up with many hours of practice and thousands of rolls. I have good rolling form (effortless) but it was because I was form focused from the very beginning and really worked on practicing the right way. Even these days when I know I can roll well, I still study the tip section from the Kayak Roll and EJ's video to ensure I can spot deficiencies in other people but also myself. If people learned to roll and then proceeded to do what I did (at least 100 rolls every time out on any water), they all would have a bombproof roll with good form. It's more of a matter of practice than initial time it took to roll.
   . . agree with schizopak
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-28-05 10:25 AM (EST)
I agree with schizopak, it's about practice and form, not about the length of time it takes to find your first roll.

There's a difference between learning to roll and learning to right oneself after a capsize. And there's an infinite continuum of variations between the two. Getting upright after a capsize starts the learning process, it is not the whole shooting match.

People lose their rolls because they get lazy about proper technique and rely too heavily on their arms, lay-back prematurely to save a weak hip rotation, neglect to pull their bodies into a wind-up position at the start or (add your favorite rolling fault here). This isn't rocket science, and it's only discussion fodder for so many because the rolling population is heavily weighted towards people still developing their technique.

Rolling isn't like riding a bicycle, it's not a "do it once and have it forever" type of thing. For me it's like riding a motorcycle or playing the guitar. I can do either with reasonable success after a long stretch of inactivity but doing either well takes regular practice and constant level of familiarity.

We all get lazy / complacent with time. We are all between swims. Don't lament over "losing your roll", rejoice at having the opportunity to learn what rolling is really about. Take the opportunity to "fix" your weaknesses and become an even better roller than you were before. We are all learning, all the time, it's a lifelong process and there is always room for improvement.

Once you "find" your roll, do everything you can to find the limits of your skill. Practice with a half-paddle, learn to hand roll, practice any stupid thing you can to disadvantage your current roll and encourage you to learn new and better technique.


  100 rolls per paddle?
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-28-05 11:00 AM (EST)
I would agree that doing that has to give you a heck of a good roll. But do you actually do 100 rolls every time you go out to paddle, or was that a typo? If you do, I am feeling pretty inadequate with my few to several.
  If I roll at all...
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-28-05 11:57 AM (EST)
.. I'll usually do at least dozen or more. Some on each side, maybe trying something new. That's stopping somewhere mid paddle to play a few minutes.

If I got out to mainly work on these skills, 100 is not really all that much (many of them will be standard rolls after trying something else that didn't quite make it).

Do you play around or just do "the" roll? Try different rolls/variations/paddles? Alternating sides? Changing what side you want to come up on mid roll? Changing paddles underwater? Doing as many as you can in say 20-30 seconds? In a good session of messing around like this 100 isn't that much.

It's all about a play/exploration mindset.
  Number of times
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-28-05 1:06 PM (EST)
I was trying to reply to schizopack about the 100 per paddle, but somehow I am just not succeeding at inserting posts correctly here.

As to how I practice, which I think was asked by Greyak because of the ordering problem... I've been mixing in a bunch of things since earlier this spring which either expand my options for staying sideways or under longer, or get me more acclimated to messing around past my stability point. I regard most of these things as being in a continuum with a roll, especially on my offside which is still only in prep. The stuff includes:
Extreme high braces
Petrussin thing (to breath)
Sculling fully over in the water, or trying anyway. Getting decent on one side, the other is coming along more slowly.
Hanging out sideways with the paddle float on, practice coming up on the back deck (as a backup for my offside).
Going over on the back deck or otherwise out of position and getting to a rolling setup.
Practicing partial and full hip snaps using the paddle float, to focus on just the lower body.
Static brace (finally appears to be there on both sides as of last time in the water).

Then there is doing a full from-setup roll a few times as well.
  yes, no typo.
  Posted by: schizopak on Jul-28-05 10:31 PM (EST)
That is what I used to do on a normal day. On a rolling practice day, I would do about 200 hundred or more. It goes pretty quickly if you do 10 onside sweeps, 10 offside sweeps, 10 onside c-to-c, 10 offside c-to-c, 10 onside butterfly rolls, 10 offside butterfly rolls, 10 onside sculling rolls, etc... With there being dozens of different rolls to work on (including hand rolls, sculling rolls, backdeck rolls, etc.), you can really end up doing quite a bit of rolling during the course of a couple hours. Now I typically do about 20 or so during a normal paddling day although if I'm doing whitewater or playboating, that number will be closer to 50-100 again. I still get out regularly for dedicated roll practice and I am a firm believer that this practice is what has made me a strong roller as opposed to any sort of "natural gift."
  Refining the technique
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-28-05 11:51 AM (EST)
Even with a very reliable roll it's also good to keep refining the technique and getting some good coaching helps. Itís easy to develop some bad habits while still rolling reliably. I've had a very reliable sweep roll for several years. This season I had the chance to work with some of the local Greenland guys, and once they corrected errors/sloppiness, I've developed a pretty solid norsaq roll and my hand rolls are steadily improving.

I'm impressed with anyone who was able to teach himself/herself to roll, but getting a little COMPETENT coaching can go a long way in improving your skills.

  Lots of opinion there...
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-28-05 9:44 AM (EST)
I've heard both opinions on whether those who take longer have better technique, erto lasting benefits from their learning process. Not sure what any universal answer is myself, but I have a seen couple of behaviors in people that probably affect peoples' perception on this one.

(1) People who have fabulous kinesthetic response and memory, who are able to be introduced to a roll without any prior study or preparation work and almost immediately start knocking them off. I have encountered two paddlers like this, and neither of them were able to repeat it on their own after that session. (The one I still encounter hasn't gone back for lessons to resolve this.)

When I started asking the paddler that I have more contact with about where things were going wrong, it was clear that he had never really grasped how a roll worked and why his body had to do certain things.

Bottom line is, these paddlers hit their rolls so quickly that they had neither the understanding nor the tools to go out and do what was necessary to keep it aferwards. Some of the lack of follow thru was normal human behavior (I got it so why do I still have to practice it) but much of the issue was understanding the process.

(2) Paddlers who learn to muscle up and get away with this for a long time before they get "caught" and find themselves in situations where it causes failure. This is usually reserved to guys - frankly it is hard for most women to fully muscle up a roll because the butt in the boat we are lifting is proportionately heavier than that of guys. But there is more than one paddler who has had to go back and correct their roll entirely to handle things like a loaded boat, where the slower pace of the roll can really penalize bad technique.

Again, I am not sure whether there is a universal right or wrong about the effect of time to learn vs. long term benefits. But I have certainly encountered individual situations that suggest a little more time taken in learning a roll and handling problems that crop up can be a good thing.
  The things people tell their students!
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-28-05 11:45 AM (EST)
That a nice thing for an instructor to say, as it can be encouraging to a slow learner, but there's a flaw in that logic:

Those who learn quickly do not stop learning. They continue to practice and refine their technique. Meanwhile the pluggers are still just trying to get things working at all.

Maybe after a while things equal out. Either type could eventually end up with better technique than the other. It depends on WHAT they learn, not HOW they learn.
  quick learners also loss it quick
  Posted by: abc on Jul-28-05 1:34 PM (EST)
There's a little bit of truth in that. The quick learners found rolling so easy they don't bother praticing it much. They can loss it. The slow pluggers never because it took so much work to learn. It just follows they're motivated to spend more time pratice. The turtle vs. hare thing.

But not all rabits rest once ahead. Those who continue to work on it will be even better off.

Instructor are particularly valueable to those having difficulties learning. The self-learn ones either got so good they don't need to return. Or some of them found it not challlenging enough to bother. They move on to other things (like rock climbing). I happened to know one of such folk.
  "...don't bother practicing it much"?
  Posted by: Greyak on Jul-28-05 4:19 PM (EST)
Now that is a HUGE piece of imagination! Why would that be?

As several have already said, finding it "harder" has nothing to do with how much people practice after they get a basic roll, or how good their technique may get.

You could just as easily say the slow learners face more frustration, find it less enjoyable, and have much less incentive to practice.

Maybe this has more to do with why people learn to roll, and how they look at rolling as it relates to their general paddling?

"Easy" rolling = fun rolling and is a welcome part of paddling. A basic gateway skill. "Hard" rolling is not fun and is more likely to be looked at as some sort of necessary evil that must be overcome if you want the best tool to deal with potential trouble on the water. An advanced skill. Naturally, "advanced" skills are harder to learn.

Getting those first rolls just opens the door. The ones who had to fight long and hard to wrench that door open may feel as if they've "arrived", and are just as likely, if not more, to slow down or stop there. The ones who stroll through the door more easily have positive expectations and momentum to continue on and are usually looking toward what to do from there.

Don't agree? Then ask how many hard learner have gone on to more than a basic roll? Offside? A variety of rolls? How many did this as soon as they started rolling?

You can twist this stuff around to suit whatever BS you're trying to sell yourself. There is probably an example of someone that fits any variation. Bottom line (like it or not) is:

1. It's a fairly basic foundation skill. Promoting it as anything else is a disservice to the paddling community.

2. Anyone with even a modicum of fitness (can walk without getting winded) and no serious impairments can learn it.

3. Working "hard" can be as effective as spitting into the wind. Just as the elements of the roll can seem counterintuitive at first - so it is with the effort required. The effort must be efficiently applied, or more is not better - just wasted effort at best, frustration and reinforcing the wrong things at worst. Some days you're better off just paddling. Learning to roll is a bit like being in quicksand: Struggling = sinking.

4. "Easy" vs. "Hard" or "Fast vs. Slow" are completely the WRONG way to look at it. Efficient vs. Inefficient gets more to the point. Everyone is different, so learning styles and rate of progress will naturally vary, but no matter how what pace or style they learn, all can benefit from looking at what they are doing in terms of efficiency. If someones efforts are not resulting in positive changes to their performance they are not learning efficiently. Dilligence is good, stubborness is not.

Odds are, the "fast" learners were not all pysically gifted as some here would like to claim (I'm certainly no amazing physical specimen and have fairly poor flexibility and average balance at best) - rather, they were more efficient by being relaxed and open to the process. This in turn gave them better feedback - and faster results.

I might get labeled as a fast learner (doesn't seem that way from my perspective). Celia says she had to work hard. The main difference I see is we approached it differently, and still do. I don't know what her thoughts were on her first successful roll, but I'd guess it was one of success and joy. Mine were something a bit different:

My first thought was "Hmm..., that felt almost TOO easy. I must have been really off in what I'd been trying every time before. Maybe it was a fluke - better repeat it. OK, that's two. Maybe it's because I am in Kim's kayak. Better switch back and try mine now. Hmm, that didn't work, but I can feel why now. There! Got it. Felt the same. Easy. OK, do it again to be sure. Yup, works. OK, enough for now - end on a good note. Next time out I'm going to have to start drilling this in and working on the other side. Then I'll...

You get the idea. I always knew I'd roll eventually (I just had no agenda for when and wasn't worried about it) so it was almost a non-even. Felt good to get them, but "What's next?" seemed more interesting (otherwise it would have beena real buzz kill!).

The eyes on the path, not the goal. People can share goals, but only cross paths. Were the paths cross we can assist each other toward our goals.

More obvious ramblings from a fledgling roller. Take it as nothing more.
  totally missing the boat!!!
  Posted by: abc on Jul-30-05 5:44 PM (EST)

Re-read the post:

"But not all rabits rest once ahead. Those who continue to work on it will be even better off."

You too, made a blanket statement assuming success MUST bread additional interest. So quick learner of rolls MUST be interested in learning additional rolls. The assumption is not valid.

How many of you ride bicycles? How many of you pratice riding a bike up and down the stair? It can be pretty useful in a lot of situations. And it isn't that hard to learn either. For the trial specialist, the trick is the fun part of cycling. For the rest, riding is the goal and special bike handling is just part of the tool kit. Same with kayak rolling. Some find it fun, others do it out of neccesity.

Some quick learner do stop. That just happen. For the same reason not everyone find riding a bike backward fun, not everyone LOVE rolling either. WW paddler, by and large, enjoys the rivers more. For many of us, rolling is a tool. Not the goal. While rolling "can be" fun when the river is frozen, I would go to the river over praticing rolls in a pool every time. There're plenty of us who don't bother with every kinds of rolls. Just one on each side reliably so we can get back up! And it just happens some paddler don't dump often enough their roll gets out of pratice.

Out of neccessity, many slow learners HAD TO work on their roll, or they'll be too busy dumping water out of their boat instead of playing in the rapids. Still, there're those who give up on rolling because they lost it faster than they can master it.

There is no correlation of fast vs slow learner to the amounts of follow-up pratice. As observed by the previous poster, some quick learner do loss their roll due to lack of pratice. And I can see why. You have completely miss the point of the post.

  What I said is:
  Posted by: greyak on Jul-31-05 11:15 AM (EST)
"You can twist this stuff around to suit whatever BS you're trying to sell yourself. There is probably an example of someone that fits any variation."

Keep the change.
  Posted by: sing on Jul-29-05 7:46 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-29-05 7:48 AM EST --

I would love to see the method they used to get their statistics... Was it random survey of those who learn quickly and slowly, those who took lessons and those who did not. I would not draw any conclusion with out knowing the research method. Anything less on a true random survey is speculation and hearsay, based on our own internal filters.

Your conclusion is also a reach. Just because someone learns quicker, it doesn't necessarily mean they haven't integrated the "basics" or fundamentals. It may well mean they they are able to do it quicker.

LIfe's not fair in that sense. Some are just quicker in certain arenas than others. Why folks can't accept a basic truth and just move on is beyond me. What folks need to do is to take what they have and work it. As long as you do that, you'll get there. Generally, it's not a race.


  Yup - not a race
  Posted by: Celia on Jul-29-05 8:34 AM (EST)
It's not at all a race, but I think that is not always easy for people to see. Frankly, once I (early on) realized that I would eventually roll but for me it was going to take longer than for most of the "rollers" I knew right then, I still made myself safer in the water very quickly by figuring out what I could count on with the skills I did have. So I got down wet re-entries and up with paddle float on, picked up a Roll-Aid device, basically any technique that was reliable and took advantage of the hip snap I could count on. (Integrating the paddle was my technical bugaboo.) And that automatically handled the desensitization, so over the course of a year the high anxiety response lessened to a point where it wasn't getting in the way.

But most formal rolling classes don't really work that way. People come in, hear well-intentioned statements about how many classes the instructors have found it will take some number of them to hit their first roll, and decide that must be how it "should" work. Great for those who hit that number, not so encouraging for those who don't.

The last year I have spoken with several people who have approached teaching rolling with a different emphasis than the usual classes I experienced, most of which boil down to being in a more individualed environment. A couple of folks in a weekly local skills group broke down the C2C into its last half and added an extended paddle, and are finding that to be a real effective "no fail" technique that is getting people initially up quite quickly. And those who have learned this approach are having a ball - I was with them last night and was seeing huge changes. A couple of instructors I've spoken with will only teach rolling with the understanding that the person they are teaching will go out and practice the foundations inbetween sessions.

It's still practice to really have anything worthwhile, and I agree that is a much more important factor than how quickly someone initially gets a roll. Or gets better at kayak skills of any sort - getting really braces takes continuous work. But someone who has been willing to drag themselves out time after time in the early learning stages, to achieve what may be pretty small incremental improvements per session, has already proven they have that habit. I am quite sure that someone like Lou won't ever lose the roll once he gets it to a repeatable stage.
  Thanks For A Nice Thread
  Posted by: lalleluia on Jul-29-05 4:24 PM (EST)
Before this thread finds it's way to the second page, I want to thank those who responded. I know I've gotten some food for thought, and hopefully others have as well.

  Just Got Home from Roll Practice
  Posted by: Kudzu on Jul-29-05 7:53 PM (EST)
at the local lake.

Lessons learned:

1) You can "have it" one week and not the next when you don't completely "have it" yet.

2) Sometimes a different roll hits when the other roll is failing. Today C to C kicked butt.

3) When you can't keep your head down, keeping your head BACK will work.

  Just Got Home From Surfing
  Posted by: sing on Jul-29-05 8:08 PM (EST)
Franklin swells. I have not a clue how many rolls I did, nor types though they tend to be C2C, followed by back deck rolls and then layback rolls. And then there were those weird braces after capsize that would just catch some wave force and popped me back up.

I am big believer in moving the practice to small surf or easy white water after one gets a roll pretty much down. Working with moving water is a whole other ball of wax that has to be developed. It's about sense and intuition and technique almost becomes secondary.

  Posted by: schizopak on Jul-30-05 2:06 AM (EST)
Practicing rolling in a dynamic environment elevates the rolling steps from 1. setup 2. sweep 3. hipsnap to 1. feel (the wave or current) 2. react (brace, scull, etc.) 3. roll (no real knowledge of how but using steps 1 and 2, your body somehow rolls you up).
  What Worked At The Lake
  Posted by: Kudzu on Jul-30-05 5:16 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Jul-30-05 1:17 PM EST --

1) Paddle way up high, getting a good bite on the water.

2) Lean BACK. When you finish the roll, be leaned BACK.

Yeah... monkey brained fear. My buddy and I talked about that some. I was able to hit all my 2nd attempts. My buddy wouldn't try 2nd attempts. He said a little panic was starting to creep in. He said he was going to do some breath holding and time keeping to give himself a little more confidence. I'll post if it works for him.

  check this thread
  Posted by: old_user on Jul-31-05 10:09 AM (EST)
9th reply, by ericnye

Assuming you secure the weight with an air bag, sounds a lot safer than being next to a dock with all your floats, lines, etc.

I only got comfortable with rolling after I learned my offside roll. I was doing C to Cs, came up on the offside first few tries, then couldn't keep it reliable. Tried a screw roll for the first time on the offside, and it worked great. Now I don't HAVE an offside, and I need to see if I can still do a C to C, just for the heck of it.

I had watched the video "The Kayak Roll" a number of times, they show keeping the blade flat. I didn't do that, I used a planing angle on the blade per Derek Hutchinson's book "Eskimo Rolling". (That book may be a bit old, but you can still order it and its good reading, as well as great sketches and instruction. Don't miss the details of his sketches, Some of them are really funny.) Its easy enough to get a planing angle, just start with the blade level with the water, then rotate your wrists outward a bit. For someone who isn't as flexible as you youngsters, the screw roll seems to be easier than setting up for the C to C, I have trouble getting my paddle to the surface with that one.

Someone here said that rolling was sort of "unwinding" from the setup, thats what it feels like. After I got more comfortable with rolling both sides, I slowed down the unwind a bit to try to figure out exactly what it was I was doing, and I noticed that my head was pretty much following the paddle, like someone else had said here.

As for practicing alone, I do it, am not comfortable with it, and probably won't be until I have more practice. I practice very close to shore, and check the water depth and check for underwater obstacles first.



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