Secrets to a "bombproof" roll??? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-16-2005   #1
Front Range, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 274
Secrets to a "bombproof" roll???

Heya folks,
I was hoping a couple of people might have a few suggestions or tips for me here.... I saw BSOE's earlier post earlier about teaching people rolling, and how he says for some, it's instantaneous, for others, it takes a bit longer. I think I may be in the latter category, but not with simple mechanics... for me, the basic roll isn't so problematic, it's executing on moving water that's tripping me up.

Right now, I'm running about 50/50 on combat rolls. I guess I'm lucky in that I *don't* generally tip (knock on wood here before I go and tempt karma into ruining my weekend! )-- it's a rarity, actually. But I'm starting to get to the point I may not be pushing myself as well as I could and I'm concerned with swims. My friends are like, "if you're not swimming, you're not learning." Okay. But it's still a pain in the ass, time-consuming, and a little embarassing (even if it can sometimes be fun-- but don't tell anyone I said that! ).

Where I think I'm holding myself up is that I *don't* have the confidence I'm gonna hit my roll every time. I know it's 50/50 right now. And it sucks.

Do any of you guys (or gals: feedback from gals would be esp appreciated!) have any suggetsions or words of wisdom? I've been shown the ropes by a couple of folks who have conflicting styles as it is... coming up on the front deck vs back deck, the tweaking of some basic mechanics, etc etc. That's totally messing with me, too! What's more reliable? Is one one "more right" than another? I know staying tucked on the front deck lessens your chances of catching a boulder to the ribs or something, but would it be better to keep coming up on the back deck if that works quicker/ better for me?? I guess you guys get the drift....

Yah, I know: I'm totally over-thinking it at this point.
I was just hoping for some pointers to get me over the hump, though...
Thanks a bunch for anything you have to offer!

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Old 09-16-2005   #2
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 818
If you can roll in a pool and but not moving water, its probably because you are thinking about where you are when you flip- worrying about hitting rocks, etc. As soon as you flip, just tuck tight to your deck and set up regardless of where you are or which way you flip. If you tuck tight, you won't smash your face and You will probably bring your head up less when you roll.

I'm a big supporter of always staying forward when you roll. People who finish their rolls on their back deck always look like they are struggling to brace up. Backdeck rolls (starting on the back deck and finishing forward) can be fun for playboating but then you get in the habit of doing it and its not really a good idea in a creek.

Also, finishing you roll with a sculling brace is the best way to get up when rolling against the current. I always thought it was a more advanced thing to do when you already knew how to roll, but I taught a newby to do it last week and it dramatically helped her roll, so its probably worth practicing.
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Old 09-16-2005   #3
ski/kayak bum
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 460
you're so close you can taste it.....50/50 means that you know how you just need practice and to make it second nature. my suggestion is that you go to a local playpark or river feature that has turbulent, moving water but that is safe if you swim and with an easy self rescue and gear collecting area. then roll on purpose, when your upside down and you miss your first attempt then try again, try ten times before you pull that skirt. then repeat in all eddy lines, features and initial body positions. and everytime you get into flat water, attempt about 100 rolls (literally 100).
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Old 09-16-2005   #4
BastrdSonOfElvis's Avatar
Thought-criminal, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 989
1. Keep trying! If you don't roll up the first time, set up again and try again. You are safer in your 50+ gallons of floatation upside down for another few seconds than you are in the water. That's what your helmet is for.

2. Nobody can teach you to roll better than EJ. Buy his video about bombproffing your roll. There's lots of other great stuff on there, too.

3. Playboat as much as you can. Find a spot, hole or wave, with a big, friendly eddy behind it and play. Go at that feature like it's your bitch...and then each time when it invariably makes you it's bitch, you'll get a shit ton of roll practice.

4. Don't be embarassed. If you're as cute as you say, every guy on the river would be happy to be your hero and pull your boat to shore.

Hope that helps...get the video.
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 09-16-2005   #5
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 26
So how is your off-side roll? One difference in moving water is that the river can favor one side or the other in a given situation. When your first roll attempt fails, it's generally a good idea to try the other side next. Also when you fail to roll one way, you automatically have momentum for the other direction. I do a lot of back-and-forth drills in the pool so that switching sides each attempt is my natural reaction.
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Old 09-16-2005   #6
pnw, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,408
My two cents, most people want up quicker in the river and overgrip their paddle which ruins the roll. It was a problem with me and still causes me problems every once and a while.
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Old 09-16-2005   #7
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 19
I totally know where you are coming from. When I started I had a solid pool roll and didn't flip over often in whitewater...but when I did flip it was all over. The confidence issue was huge for me. If I thought there was a possibility of flipping over, I was less eager to try surfing or ferrying. I agree with double-a-ron though, after you can hit 100 pool rolls, try 100 rolls in current, then throw yourself in a hole and try rolls in the turbulent stuff. The major thing that really helped my roll was hanging out upside down for a few seconds after I had flipped and making sure that I had the paddle setup right and the boat had settled upside down (aka don't rush the setup). As your roll becomes more dependable, you tend to hang out upside down for less and less time until the roll is automatic. It's also really confusing when there are a bunch of people trying to teach you what to do. I can't do the video thing (it drives me nuts trying to learn from a how-to video). It really helped me to have one or two people (in my case jmack) that knew what they are doing and could help me out (let's face it - everyones roll is a little bit different and as a gal we have to use more finesse than some of the guys). Lastly, stay forward - it lessons the likelyhood of getting a rock to the face and when you roll up you are already in position to take the next stroke. In addition, if you roll up on your back deck and all of your weight is back and you hit a big hole -you have little to no speed and you are going for a surf or another roll. I hope this helps!

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Old 09-16-2005   #8
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 18
Great suggestions so far and I agree with them.

Playboat, playboat,'re going to get knocked around and turned upside down alot, but that's what it's all about and your confidence will go up significantly.

The only difference in going from the pool to moving water is the sound of rushing water and the temperature. Don't freek and don't think 'oh shit I'm going to hit a rock.' If you do hit a rock it's either going to be the boat, paddle or helmet that makes contact in most cases.

Don't think about all of the moves so much (set up, sweep, arch, hip/knee snap), it sounds like you know how to roll. You just need to take each peice of the roll and make it fluid. I think the roll can be compared to perfecting a golf swing. It's basically taking different moves and putting them all together to reach your goal. Remember also that it's counter want to be sitting on your ass as your head exits the water.

You have plenty of oxygen. You have enough time to try at least 3-4 times before pulling the cord.

Most importantly, you have to believe. If there is any doubt in your mind, then you're not getting back up.

Getting a video is good too. EJ's for back deck and Grace Under Pressure is a good one for C to C.

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Old 09-16-2005   #9
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 28
Zen answer... When you are tired of swimming - you will roll, young grasshopper
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Old 09-16-2005   #10
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 480
Sweep roll and come up towards the back of the boat - but not too far back. When you start your roll and then move forward, you tend to kill the rolling motion. Sit neutral in your boat and rock it back and forth. Next, lean back a bit and do the same. The boat rolls easier. Now lean forward and try to rock your boat and you will find it doesn't work.

EJ even goes over that in his videos about not coming up in a forward position. You don't do a "back deck" roll but just do your sweep with your head following the paddle and if you execute it right, you will be upright in about a neutral position. I do boat with some guys that do come forward but they really have powerful rolls and can pull it off. You may get there some day but if you are struggling now, I would say to end up more toward the back of the boat than forward.

Old video to see is the Kayaker's Edge with Phil De Reimer doing the sweep roll... very nicely done. The Kayak Roll by Kent Ford also has the sweep roll as well as the C2C and they do the same thing.

Oh... keep your head down and make sure your blade is flat and not diving down as you sweep your paddle out.

Next... ignore the people that are trying to change everything for you. Do what feels best to you. You'll know that from your successful-feel good rolls.

Have fun.
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