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Washington Kayak Club
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Sea Kayaking Discussion

Kayak Rolls - ideas for understanding them better
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Matt -

My sense is that you are putting too much thought into different roll executions. There are far more similarities between a sweep and C to C than there are differences. Key to both is getting your upper torso as close to the surface of the water in that position where where you are 90 degrees to your boat. The functional tension in your torso is what brings the boat up. When you are in that position you create functional tension on that opposite knee, which again is what brings your boat up. Bringing your body up is a mater of timing, and both roll styles address that differently.
 
It also sounds like you as pending a lot of time on the internet, ooking at different methodologies, and absorbing different versions of "The Truth". I'd encourage you to adopt one version of "The Truth". Kent Ford's vid on he sweep roll is a good place to start. A buddy of mine and I created a progression for the C to C - unfortunately no vid exists, but I'd be happy to work with you on that if you come to te South Sound - maybe Sunday's Tacoma session. Adopt that style, and you don't have to be in your boat to practice it. When you are stuck in traffic, instead of being frustrated think about what the perfect, effortless roll feels like. That mental rehearsal will go a long way to ingraining patterns of grace.

Those who finish laying across their back decks??? They haven't developed the timing to bring their body up, so they reduce the lever arm length that is their body by bringing it closer to the rotating center of mass. Don't even go there - it will result in major dental work if you paddle much. Yes, it is what EJ does, but EJ is a awesome physical specimen and his roll style is a bit more rodeo tuned.

Good luck with your journey.
 
Thanks Michael.  I checked out that clip and saved it.  Yeah he keeps the elbows low even on the high brace - I will have to try this.  
 
Hey - since I got my kayak a month ago I have been hitting all the pool sessions I can.  I live in Sultan, so I have been going to all the Shoreline ones and also the weekly ones in Marysville at the YMCA.  Do you go to the Shoreline pool session?  I am trying to get a pool session started in Monroe at the YMCA - apparently they are very close to getting one started.  
 
I REALLY want to try hand rolls this weekend....
 
 
There are three basic types of rolls (excluding forward ending rolls and all the greenland stuff), a laid back, a C-to-C, and a sweep roll. Since a high brace is basically a roll that you start before being fully capsized, these each lead to a slightly different way to do it. EJ’s is similar to a laid back roll, and I think is quite unique. Just be really careful extending your arm like he does as this can put a lot of strain on your shoulder.

A high brace that looks more like a C-to-C roll can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOsyqt37ILQ, Pay attention to how tucked he keeps his elbow/arm. This is a powerful position and keeps your shoulder safe.  

If you were to take that last technique but rotate your upper body as if you were setting up for a sweep roll, you’d have the third type.Your back actually hits the water before anything else, and you can high brace right back up. Very powerful, and very friendly to your body. 

Come out to the WKC pool sessions this winter and we’ll work on this stuff!

On Nov 6, 2015, at 6:21 PM, Discussion <WKCDiscussion@washingtonkayakclub.org> wrote:

Ah - thanks Michael - 
 
I would love to try what you are saying about moving the footboard, but as it is, my Pyranha S8 is the kind of play boat fit where having Jackson Happy Feet in the bow, all the way deflated and all the way squished as much as possible - is still a pretty tight squeeze.  I haven't tried the boat with nothing in the feet area since I got my booties although my first couple paddles in the boat were with no booties and no happy feet (got the whole setup a month ago).  

I did go out to the lake tonight just before dark and practiced some braces in the shallows.  I noticed that thinking about rolling knee coming up as well as other foot going down also has the tendency to park me right on the stern - which is kind of what the EJ's Rolling and Bracing technique seems to like.  I wasn't comfortable with this at first.  But focusing on this has had multiplier effect.  When I started getting my rolls, I became less nervous about trying aggressive braces deeper into the water, because I knew worst case scenario I was likely to be able to roll rather than wet exit.  But as i practice the braces more - aming for getting head low over stern, and focusing on foot on opposite side of the roll going down, it made it much easier to get head down low and over stern. When i do not focus on foot going down, I tend to also bring head up too early or not get it down low enough on braces (when that is the intent).  

My lower back and hamstring flexibility is getting better the more I paddle but it is not very good still.  It is getting better but I am learning ways to get around this.  I think I am closest to getting the sweep roll with all the phases looking right - my C to C is a ways off.  I can kind of fall down into it if I fall into a brace, but I have trouble getting the paddle out 90 degrees from setup position before initiating the hip snap.  

I thought my braces would never look like EJ's but I am excited that his brace technique is actually beginning to work for me.  

I tried all this tonight for the first time with dry suit on - in a lake.  Tomorrow will do more of the same but in river - for the first time with gear.  Hoping to get rolls consistent with gear - in the river - this weekend.  

Here is a pic of my kayak - FYI


 
Ah - thanks Michael - 
 
I would love to try what you are saying about moving the footboard, but as it is, my Pyranha S8 is the kind of play boat fit where having Jackson Happy Feet in the bow, all the way deflated and all the way squished as much as possible - is still a pretty tight squeeze.  I haven't tried the boat with nothing in the feet area since I got my booties although my first couple paddles in the boat were with no booties and no happy feet (got the whole setup a month ago).  

I did go out to the lake tonight just before dark and practiced some braces in the shallows.  I noticed that thinking about rolling knee coming up as well as other foot going down also has the tendency to park me right on the stern - which is kind of what the EJ's Rolling and Bracing technique seems to like.  I wasn't comfortable with this at first.  But focusing on this has had multiplier effect.  When I started getting my rolls, I became less nervous about trying aggressive braces deeper into the water, because I knew worst case scenario I was likely to be able to roll rather than wet exit.  But as i practice the braces more - aming for getting head low over stern, and focusing on foot on opposite side of the roll going down, it made it much easier to get head down low and over stern. When i do not focus on foot going down, I tend to also bring head up too early or not get it down low enough on braces (when that is the intent).  

My lower back and hamstring flexibility is getting better the more I paddle but it is not very good still.  It is getting better but I am learning ways to get around this.  I think I am closest to getting the sweep roll with all the phases looking right - my C to C is a ways off.  I can kind of fall down into it if I fall into a brace, but I have trouble getting the paddle out 90 degrees from setup position before initiating the hip snap.  

I thought my braces would never look like EJ's but I am excited that his brace technique is actually beginning to work for me.  

I tried all this tonight for the first time with dry suit on - in a lake.  Tomorrow will do more of the same but in river - for the first time with gear.  Hoping to get rolls consistent with gear - in the river - this weekend.  

Here is a pic of my kayak - FYI

 
Matt, the number one reason you have been successful in rolling is your ability to reflect on what is working verse what is not working, and make modifications until things click. Very good write-up below, and keep working.

My 2 cents

Next time you go to the pool, take a moment to move your footboard as far forward as you can and try to roll without making any foot contact at all. Applying lots of pressure to the opposite side foot is helping you do the part that’s really important, apply pressure to the opposite side butt cheek. The hip snap is about weighting down one butt cheek (the side opposite the rolling knee) and unweighting the other one.

You are spot on with the rolling knee, there should be good pressure there. Dropping the other knee is not needed, it’s just a technique to help keep you from engaging that knee too. If you can keep yourself from applying pressure, actually keeping that knee in contact with the boat will increase stability and set you up for a quicker transition to the next stroke.
 
Just think of kneeing your kayak and a side abdominal crunch. 
 
I have been working hard on rolls - working a lot with Paul Brower (and others) at the pool and watching a lot of DVDs and youtubes.  

I'm just now starting to get to the point where I am practicing rolls in a pool session without any wet exits.
 
Does it confuse anybody why folks call it a hip snap?  You hear talk about "the rolling knee" and "the hip snap".  They also talk about making sure not to push with both knees - but to raise the rolling knee and  "drop the other knee".  
 
To me, it seems to make sense to make it all about the FEET, as in both of them. For me, what seems to create a powerful "hip snap" is when I pull my "rolling knee" up, and the opposite foot DOWN.  As soon as I thought about it this way, my hip snap power seemed to triple to the point that even if my setup was not perfect, and my head came up a bit early, there was more than enough snap there to get me up fast.  To say you should drop your other knee - dropping it is very passive way to think about what needs to happen.  I think you actually need to really drive the other foot down.  When you drive the other foot down, and the rolling knee up, THAT is what creates torsion of the hips in a very strong way, and truthfully I think this is more what is actually turning the boat. Does it seem this way to anybody else?  

When I try to do a hip snap just thinking about hip muscles and hip movement, that actually doesn't necessarily translate into the rolling knee moving up, nor the other foot moving down, and somehow what in my mind would be a hip snap doesn't end up having the same power.  
 
Other things that I am trying to understand better:

With the C to C, going from home position to where the paddle is 90 degrees out from the boat and still on top of the water:  this I have a little trouble with due to limited flexibility.  But I notice variations of the C to C where they start the hip snap at more like 45 degrees.  This is kind of what I have started to do - something in my body just says "do the hip snap" when I reach 45 degrees.  I will admit that once I hit the hip snap, it all becomes a blur.  When the hip snap is powerful, the rest goes really fast.  The only times I fail the roll is when I am thinking too much about my setup - having the paddle out of the air - and then forget to do the things that make the hipsnap work (push rolling knee up and other foot DOWN).  The other thing that causes me to fail is bringing head up and not having face towards the water as I come up. 

I also noticed after practicing the roll this way that I had no soreness in neck or shoulders compared to week prior's practice.  When my hip snap is weak, I try to save it with using the paddle.  When hip snap is strong, I don't resort to that, and also, my paddle stays closer to the surface throughout the roll.  

I think everybody agrees on what a good home position is for beginning the roll - especially when just learning rolls.  But since the hip snap is such a significant part of the roll, it kind of confused me early on calling it a "hip snap" when it actually has so much to do with the foot and knee.  I guarantee if you understand what to do with the foot and knee, there is nothing that would be missed in what needs to happen with the hip, as moving the foot and knee cannot be done without creating the powerful hip torsion.  But if you are thinking about hips, you may just curve your waist but possibly forget about lifting the rolling knee and pushing down with the other foot and having a hip snap that is considerably less powerful.  Even just pushing the foot down seems to add so much power to the hip snap alone, and also, feet are often talked about in reference to powerful sweep strokes - it makes sense that awareness of what you should be doing with the feet would translate into hip snap power.
 
Thoughts?  Perhaps this is not a new concept.  

 
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