No Sweep, No Plunk

Today I want to offer up a few video clips to demonstrate mind over matter.. Or I should say, “body over paddle”.   Let’s start with a couple vertical sculling rolls.  These come from Greenland Style rolling and simply won’t allow you to push, pull or otherwise wank on your paddle blade.  In the first clip I’m using a Greenland Paddle and it’s shot underwater.  You can see that I do get a little purchase with the paddle, but the thing to watch here is the boat.


You can see, the power is used inside the kayak to roll the boat back under my bum.  The paddle plays a very small part in the roll.   Next, let’s see this same roll from above and using a standard paddle.  Again watch the paddle, and watch the boat.  Where does the roll start?  What rolls the boat up?

And lastly here’s a basic hand roll.  No paddle at all.  Now it’s got to be all boat.  You will notice however, that I tap my hand on the water when I kick off the roll. This little tap stops the boat from slipping back when your body initiates the roll. You’ll see some splash, but watch closely and you’ll see that it’s coming from bringing my arm out of the water.  The hand actually taps the surface with very little energy at all.   Even the hand tap is not nessisary.. but things do get a little trickier from there!

Hopefully these clips helped to re-enforce the idea that the paddle plays only a very small part in the actual kayak roll.  Sometimes you simply need to see it. :)  So.. next we’ll talk about why we’re focusing on “low impact” rolls, what that means and we’ll go into the ground work such as physical flexibility and good boat fit.

You may also like

Bad Example
The Heavenly Arch

7 Responses

  1. Very cool stuff Derrick!
    I just started Kayaking 2 months ago, so I have much to learn, but I’m looking forward to learning all these techniques, with time & practice…

    Thanks for posting all these articles & videos, really appreciated!

  2. Lisa

    Thanks Derrick! This post was actually very helpful. I watched the videos at work today and couldn’t wait to try the vertical sculling roll. I was able to roll with it about half a dozen times (lost count of how many times it failed though). It forced me to focus on the hip flick and to lay back more – resulting in a smoother roll with less pressure on the paddle. Love your blog! Thanks again. …Lisa

    1. Cool Lisa! That really makes me happy to hear. This roll probably did more for me than any to tighten up my technique. I could hand roll before I could do this one, but surprisingly a hand roll can be inefficient and work.. the vertical shaft really asks you to stay low and spin that body. As you noticed, it’s pretty easy to find yourself going right back over with just a slight mistake.

  3. Hi Derrick,
    We always love your blog – this recent thread is especially great!
    One activity we like that helps to re-emphasize how much the body does in a roll is to ask your student from a static brace position – to roll the boat “on” (bringing it further over) and then roll it “off” (back into the static brace position) – without letting the paddle sink too much…a video of you doing this we think would emphasize what you are already talking about. Helen Wilson shows this in the beginning of her DVD – she calls it kayak rotation. She talks about using the “recovery side” knee to roll the kayak.

    Leon and I, while agreeing with Helen’s technique, would add the concept of actively lowering the “top” leg – what we are calling an “active leg drop”. This action of applying a downwards pressure with this leg and hip against the seat and hull of the kayak happens simultaneously with the raising of the “recovery side” leg and hip. The downwards action of the “top” leg and hip fully aids and compliments the upwards action of the “recovery side” leg and hip. Leon and I are currently researching this concept as it relates to bracing and rolling and are writing them up for our BCU Level 5 research paper. Give it a try and please let us know what you think.
    Shawna and Leon

    1. Derrick

      Hey guys! Thank you!

      What’s interesting is that the what I’m teaching now is a direct offshoot of something I learned from you a few years back as it is. :) It was actually working on your square shoulder high brace that suddenly rang a bell for me. Which is odd because I’d been doing traditional stuff before but had not seen a way to fold it smoothly into what I was doing with standard rolls. It was in that low brace/high brace/roll.. exercise that I started seeing a better way to teach the roll… So now I also bring students into that balance brace position (although I don’t actually focus on the “brace”) and work with them rolling the boat onto them and away exactly as you describe. I think I also happened upon the “active leg” as well. This is where I was differing from some of the traditional paddlers I’d spoken with in that they felt that leg should relax. I’ll write more on it in time here. I’m afraid in trying to write a quick comment I’ll not express myself clearly but it sure sounds like we’re on the same page here. :)