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Old 05-18-2005   #11
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 40

I'm one of those people who took forever to learn to roll. 7 years or so. (ok some might say it's still a little sketchy...)

But, playboating really helped me to work on my roll.

If you go to a playpark, it's usually a pretty benign place to swim and getting into the holes you flip over a lot.

My biggest fear was just being underwater and I would "fear swim" since it was the quickest way to the top. So, I would go somewhere in a playpark that was pretty safe (wouldn't wash over another drop) and practice going into a feature and getting flipped by it (different from flipping yourself over) and just countint to ten, then fifteen before swimming. This got me used to waiting underwater since especially as a smaller girl, sometimes it's hard for your boat to even flip all the way over and it's really hard to roll until the boat is all of the way over.

This exercise conditioned me to not immediately panic and swim when I flipped. So, next I would flip over, count to 5 and try and roll.

Eventually I started rolling more and swimming less. I still have to say "roll, roll" when I flip over and not wuss out and pull my skirt mostly at the beginning of the season... (and this with over 10 years of boating) But at least I roll now.

Give it a try.

Another thing that really worked for me was when I was trying to flat spin I would go to the wave and try and flat spin and every time I didn't get a full 360 I would make myself roll 3 times on each side. This helped both teach me how to flat spin and improve my roll...

So, I boated a lot without a solid roll. I boated class 4 without a solid roll. Boating is much more fun with a roll though! So take some time to focus on this skill. It's really nice to be able to stay warmer in your boat!

Good luck!


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Old 05-25-2005   #12
Engineering Student
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 18

I am just starting to kayak (ok, not even started yet) but I have been taking by boat out in a friends lake and rolling almost everday. I can now roll pretty good in flat water. How difficult is it to transition to river rolls? Also, how important is it to be able to roll on both sides? Thanks. Oh, and is the there any more roll sessions at mualbary pool this summer?

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Old 05-25-2005   #13
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 335
Definitely better to swim than to be a couch potato!Just know what your'e getting yourself into and don't run it if you are afraid to swim it,remember you can portage the tough stuff (if you know where it is)you are better off on pool drop rivers to avoid long swims ,avoid high water at a minimum you'll lose equiptment.Keep working on your roll!
my combat roll sucks Im an onside rollin' mofo in a pool but have some wierd psychological barrier in current,miss most combat rolls that doesn't keep me from boating stuff up to foxton -waterton level at modest flows ,but i've been duckying for 10+ years and being in the water comes with the territory if you flip and self rescue quickly ,efficiently regain control thats your roll, if you take too long or anyone has to retrieve any of your gear thats a swim.i have more cofidence in my ducky self rescue than my roll so i'll do harder stuff,prepared for apossible swim ,but I wish like hell i could solidify my roll !There is a limit to what a person should swim ,obviously.Also it is inconsiderate to other boaters and embarrassing to be swimming all the time.i understand the water and can make any move in a kayak i could in a duck but not having a confident roll keeps me off a lot of good stuff,a solid roll is the key to safe advanced kayaking.Keep practicing your roll,keep running stuff in your safety zone until you do. yeah i guess thats my point sorry for ramblin
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Old 05-26-2005   #14
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 122
wow, Cayo, somehow I pictured you with a bomber combat roll

In response to Danielle, I respectfully disagree. I do think it is okay not to have a roll. Of course one should keep trying to get it. I keep trying, dang it, but I have not gotten my combat roll yet. I paddled my first time in 1998. I have done foxton, shoshone, and the cottonwood section on the Arkansas... all without swimming. Yes, it is a pain in the ass to swim. I hate being rescued too. But, I keep a hold of my gear and I rescue myself... most of the time.

No, you should not give up on trying to roll, but that shouldn't preclude a person from being a kayaker.

It's important to stay within your limits, of course. I never paddle a section I would be afraid to swim through. I stay on easier class 3. I brace really well, I read water really well, I can get where I want to go in the river.

I wholeheartedly agree, Danielle, with your message to those who have tried for years and cannot roll - don't give up!!!! it will happen!!!!

Anyone who is struggling with the roll, join our group:

There are over 100 of us now and we are all class 2/3 boaters, some have our river roll, some have our lake roll, some have no roll at all. But we love to paddle! We have roll sessions planned all the time too.

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Old 05-26-2005   #15
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 140
Before I was able to roll on a consistent basis, my problem was that I was rolling different every time. I would practice and practice, but I didn't know what I was practicing. Anytime I actually rolled I would ask myself, "Now what did I do right?" and I'd try to emulate it again, with no luck. It was watching the videos that I discussed earlier that gave me an actual 'technique' to mimick and learn. Now I usually know what I did wrong and on second attempts, I can usually correct it.

So the simple fact of not having a set of fundementals, which are the basis for every other sport I do, was what I was missing. Once I understood the body motions I was going for, it was easier to practice and quickly get better.

Also, (and EJ talks about this), when I approach a rapid now, I actually think about the fact that I may fall and I visualize rolling up. That has helped tremendously. That way it's not such a shock when I do windowshade and I'm prepared for the "task at hand".

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure no expert roller or kayaker, I'm still fairly new at the sport, but boy is my confidence up due to my new found skill set.

Good luck!
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Old 05-26-2005   #16
Ft. Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 139
It is interesting to read about different people's experiences and how they learned to roll.

This is my 3rd season paddling and I can roll 100% of the time in flat water on both sides. In the river however I have only flipped about 7 or 8 times and have rolled up about 3 times. I think my problem is that I paddle a bigger creek boat (mutant now), and have a good brace and on easy stuff I never ever flip. Ive come to the conclusion that I need to paddle easy stuff in a really unstable boat so I can get practice combat rolling where its not dangerous. I also would like to go to a playpark and get worked in a small boat where its not dangerous to get practice too. Anyone got a cheap playboat for sale???
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Old 05-26-2005   #17
BV, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 55
I'm a bit suprised to hear of some of the length of time it has been taking some of you all to get your roll. Especially you women, I think you have a distinct advantage over many of us men. A good roll is all about grace and flexability not brute force and ignorance.

What were some of your first learning experiences? Did the person teaching you not set up each learning element up for guaranteed success? Are you taking on too large of a task at once? Meaning, are you trying to get a roll before having practiced at least 20 or so hip snaps, ea. sesion? How many 'T' rescues have you practiced?

I guess I would think that after so many years, the problem would lie with how you were taught or residule from a bad experience. You obviously have the commitment to the sport, which a lack of is usually the real problem, so my guess is take a closer look at how you are learning. Just because some one is a great kayaker, and has a bomber roll doesent mean they can teach worth a darn. And if you are trying to self teach, good luck, cuz thats the hardest way to learn it.

One day with a good teacher, and you WILL get it. I am totaly confident with that statement.
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Old 05-26-2005   #18
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 140
Originally Posted by esp
A good roll is all about grace and flexability not brute force and ignorance.
I totally agree. Unfortunately my first teacher was not making that point clear. He showed us an old video and took us to the pool. Hip snaps were the main thing he concentrated on. He attempted to teach us the C to C. I've always learned by watching and to me, it looked like resistance to the water was helping in addition to the hip snap. Now I know this is not true and to "shred the resistance". The looser and lighter my paddle goes across the top of the water, ("like a knife through whip cream"), the easier the roll. The hip snap naturally happens because of the correct body motion. I don't even think about a hip snap anymore, expect when hand rolling.

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Old 05-26-2005   #19
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 5
First I would just like to say thanks for this thread. I have been kayaking for 5 years and am in a similar postion in that getting a combat roll feels more like a roll of the dice. One of my issues is that I just dont have the time to hit the river very much. Hopefully I will be able to increase that this year. But to the original question, I will just say, how are you going to learn to roll unless you are on the river? I know that after I have had one swim in a day the main thing going through my head is that I dont want to do that again. Get on the river. Be with friends who know you might be swimming. If I have friends with me, and know that they can get to me in time for a save, that usually relaxes me enough to pull the roll.
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Old 05-26-2005   #20
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Gotta comment. Surprised how many people have been boating for years with no roll. If you don't have the time or inclination to learn, why not just paddle a duckie or the like? One of the advantages of a kayak is the ability to recover from a capsize. It's probably the best tool out there, but only if you learn to use it. It's hardly the only water craft to choose from. Kayaking without a roll is less fun, you'll progress slower, it's more dangerous for you and your parnters, and it's a pain to gather your sh*t. I'm no expert boater and am all about running what you're comfortable in, but you should learn the fundamentals of the sport.

As to the guy with a question about lake vs. river roll. There are some complications about rolling in the river, but it's largely a head game. If you have a solid roll in the lake/pool, you'll be able to roll in the river - no problem - the mechanics are pretty much the same. My opinion: if it's your first year, get a solid roll on a one side - that'll go a long way. Next winter learn your offside.

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