Got no deeds to do / No promises to keep.
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you / All is groovy.
- Simon & Garfunkel
There are 2 main ways to approach kayak rolling, the high power, hip flick way, or the relaxed, chilled out way. I prefer to chill out. Both ways work, but the chilled out way works even when you’re just zapped. When it comes to learning to roll, we almost always tend to go for the power. It’s partially animal nature, and partly an expression of the anxiety lingering around because of the fear that you might blow it. Learning to chill out is practically its own step in your rolling progression; “Ok, you’re coming up now. Next we’ll move on to the “chill stage”…
You’ll know if you’re not chillin’ when you first come up. If you’re tense, your kayak will wobble. A still body, especially your legs, will cause your kayak to wobble for a moment as soon as you are upright again. The wobble says you’re tense, but what’s more, it could send you right back over in anything but the flattest conditions.
Now, the best way to overcome that rolling tension is simply to do it a lot. I mean… A LOT! The more you become accustom to rolling, the more relaxed you’ll become. I know guys who’ve been rolling for years that still roll like they’re not all that certain they’ll come up. They simply don’t practice enough.
How you practice can help too. My bit of advice is to avoid “practicing” per se. Methods, scripts or routines simply ramp up the serious perceptions that can get you all stiff in the first place. The more you make your practice sessions like a job, the less success you’re likely to have. That may sound a bit counter intuitive but from my experience it’s the only way. Just go relax, do what you know and try some stuff you don’t. When you start feeling frustrated.. move on. Play. Come back to the challenges after you’ve chilled out.
My favorite chill out routine is simply to grab my Norsaq and flip my kayak. (Um, a paddle is fine!) I’ll hang upside down for a while and relax. Then when it’s getting time to breath again, I’ll ease my rolling stick out a bit and slowly roll up on the back deck. I get my air back, then slip slowly back into the water and repeat the process. I tune out the noise of the world around me and simply focus on being as slow and quiet as possible both sliding in and out of the water. I’m training myself not to be “splashy”, but silent in recovery. A Ninja! Part of this is working on snaking my body on to the deck: lower spine, middle, shoulders, then head. Also sliding my head onto the deck and not setting it there. We have a tendency to lift our head/torso just a bit as we roll the boat under us, then we fully lay down on the deck. The subtlety between sliding on the deck and lifting on to the deck can be very hard to sense unless you smooth out the world around you and focus you mind. I can tell you, that after 10-15 minutes of this little “chill out” routine.. my rolls are always better. In fact, this is when I usually make my learning leaps as well.
For what it’s worth….