Originally Posted by Theophilus
I think the trick to whitewater rolling is getting the conscious out of the way so the subconscious can get its work done.
For some people that's the hardest part of learning to roll. The mechanics of the roll are the same regardless of what's going on in the river, but too many people, especially when they're beginners, let the river interfere with what they're doing. The river can sometimes make it harder to get into the setup position, but as long as you can do that the rest should happen automatically, without having to think about it.
My suggestion for those who have gotten a pool roll and need to turn it into a reliable combat roll is to just start rolling in water that's a bit more challenging than the pool. Start with gently flowing water, and then progress to modest wave trains, eddy lines and squirrely water. When that's comfortable and reliable find faster water and bigger wave trains. Paddle an easy river and roll at least 100 times. Don't be afraid of trying it in shallow water that's flowing slowly. If you hit a rock remember that you can't
hit that rock again (unless you're being windowshaded). Besides flipping in different positions, switch the paddle around. Pass it over the bottom of the boat. Flip it end for end and then roll up with the back side of the "wrong" blade. Besides building muscle memory, all of that practice will give you the confidence to believe your roll will work when you most need it. The first time you need a combat roll in a class 3 rapid you shouldn't have to experience anything you haven't already dealt with while practicing, and you should expect to roll up with no problem.