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Old 08-07-2015   #1
west jordan, Utah
Paddling Since: 2015
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 2
Unable to roll

Hi, I am new to white water kayaking and am having a problem that maybe someone could give advise on. I took a ww kayak class and of course I was the only one that never was able to get a roll down. But anyhow, I picked up a used Pyranha Karnali thinking I would practice in my community pool when no one was around. I put some float bags in back and filled in the gap between footrest and front of kayak with foam.

So I went down the last two days to practice and still not coming close to rolling. What I did notice is that when I reach my paddle up on the other side, I can't get the end of the paddle out of the water and it looks (from goggles perspective) that my kayak floats so high that I literally can't reach up over it enough to have the whole paddle out of water. I even reach to the point and try to bend my body to the point that I am starting to slide a little out of seat.

Not sure if this type of thing happens very often but couldn't seem to find any information on the internet. Every time I have a kayak question this place seems to have the answer.

Thanks in advance, John

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Old 08-07-2015   #2
Sacramento, California
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 232
It would be worth taking a rolling lesson, but with someone else. You might also consider learning from someone who teaches a C to C roll if you were trying the sweep roll prior, or visa versa. Some people do better with one or the other.

When I learned, and still today, all roll teachers in my area teach the sweep roll, but I found the C to C roll to be more reliable.

If you want some video instruction, this is the best resource I've ever seen online:

Look at the rolling and bracing video play list.

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Old 08-07-2015   #3
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 505
Two really dumb tricks that helped me figure it out (though it might not help with your specific problem):

If you roll with your right hand forward, bite the strap of the right shoulder of your PFD - this will keep your head down and tucked.

Also, grip your paddle so that your left hand is almost touching the blade, and your right hand is somewhere closer to the middle of the shaft. This will give you more leverage and should make it easier to get your C2C down. I used it with a sweep roll and it still worked.
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Old 08-07-2015   #4
bobbuilds's Avatar
x, x
Paddling Since: x
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,634
I would recommend dry land rolling. Set up on the same side. (not a momentum roll/aka barrel roll) this will help your set up, hip snap and paddle position awareness. it should seem similar to when your instructor helped you learn to roll.

do a few hip snap/rolls on grass or carpet. practice with good technique remember to keep your head down and hip snap. sweep with your paddle and pay attention to what your head is doing while your rolling.

If the head is up, most rolls tend to fail, finish by leading your head with your sweeping hand, at this point you should be upright and over your boat. continue with your forward stroke progress.

you can take the dry land roll to the lake or river also, practice in a few inches of water. as you get better and more comfortable move out deeper.

It helps set up. and also helps with rock fear management and you can see your paddle angle.

lot's of good stuff, just remember bad technique is hard to unlearn, can lead to injury and be the main cause systematic beatering down the road.

do not be afraid to take multiple classes. good instruction goes a long way. instructors can spot things that might help you before bad technique sets in.

there are lots of techniques for improving/practicing your roll. try what you find online and with friends at the lake/river.

remember, do not muscle it, practice good technique, stay calm and relax.
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Old 08-07-2015   #5
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
To address your specific question, don't worry about getting your paddle all the way out of the water - it's simply not necessary. Getting the paddle position correct and not diving as you try to hip snap is a common problem but has more to do with rolling your wrists to maintain the proper angle of the paddle in the water to brace off of.

Your boat is just fine for learning to roll. Even if you only weigh 100# you will be able to roll that boat just fine. A trick that might help with paddle position is to tape a piece of foam or something buoyant around the paddle blade that you're using to brace off of. Also if you can get someone knowledgeable to hold you in the water with your head just above the surface but in rolling position the paddle for you, that can really help you get the feel.

Good luck.
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Old 08-07-2015   #6
SLC, Utah
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 51
It's really, really hard to teach yourself to roll. I guess someone did, once, but I don't know anyone who has. I taught myself an offside roll just by doing a half- assed paddle stroke but focusing on trying to point my hips to the sky and keeping my eyes on the shoulder of my dry top. I couldn't have done that without a solid roll on the other side. One thing that helps me is to not over think it.
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Old 08-07-2015   #7
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 66
video tape it and we will critique
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Old 08-07-2015   #8
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 329
I taught myself by watching literally dozens of YouTube videos on how to roll, the mechanics of rolling, etc etc. this was also 2 years after someone who knew how to roll tried teaching me and at least showed me what to do. So it wasn't entirely on my own. Back deck was 100% myself and youtube.

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Old 08-07-2015   #9
salt lake city, Utah
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 16
I highly recommend the link that bystander has shared. Really good info in there. Remember, you are not trying to force your way over with your arms, but use the resistance of the paddle on the water as leverage to do the hipsnap. Also , it is not so much attempting to reach your body out the boat to the surface of the water as it is to reach your paddle as far out from the side of the boat as you can. Your paddle doesn't have to reach the surface for a successful roll, but the further you reach perpendicular to your boat the more it is going to help you force the hipsnap when you do get paddle resistance

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Old 08-07-2015   #10
wildsoles's Avatar
Belfair, Washington
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 40
Yes to dry land rolling

I second the suggestion to try dry land rolling. That's how I *finally* learned, after boating for 18 months without a roll. We set up the kayak in the living room and yard, no paddle. That helped my stubborn brain focus on the hip snap instead of the paddle. Once I could feel how those muscles would pull the boat around, it was a whole different frame of mind. The paddle is just an accessory (and in my case it was a distraction), but the core of the roll is in how the lower body pulls the boat around. It took getting out of the water and ditching the paddle for my body and brain to feel that. Once I could feel it on land, we moved to a lake. If getting the paddle back in the lake or slow eddy messes you up, ditch the paddle for a bit and just work on the hip snap with a friend nearby. Get those hips rolling the boat first, even just partway around! Then bring the paddle back into the picture.

It also helped getting a helmet with a face mask. Suddenly, upside down in the river I wasn't as worried (distracted by) rocks coming at me. It was a small concession that made a big difference in the consistency of my roll once I started getting it.

You might also try a different instructor? The way one person teaches/decscribes works for some and not for others. Maybe someone else's technique will click.

One last thing (and I'm sure some will disagree, and that's fine) -- don't worry too much if you can't roll yet. Rolling is a GREAT skill, but a strong brace on both sides is a great skill too, and in boating for a year and a half without a roll I developed a really strong brace In the end I think that made me a better kayaker. Just know your limits river-wise, and have fun.

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