Coaching the Roll
A methodical approach to safely coaching the roll
Adam Hall (20 Nov 2013)
Prerequisites of the Roll
Before attempting the roll it is vital that the student has achieved a good level of competence in the following techniques. Trying to roll before these are established generally means you just have to return to them later.
- High Brace Support Stroke
Boat off balance, good control of the blade, correct angle of the shaft relative to the water and positive hip flick
- Eskimo Rescue
Good confidence underwater, awareness and coordination throughout, smooth hip flick using minimal force on the rescuer’s boat or paddle
Elements of the Roll
Any paddle roll can be considered in seven distinct steps that need to be completed in sequence (the seven steps to rolling heaven). Different rolls, different people and different situations will change the emphasis and timing but the sequence will always be the same. The steps are …
Positioning the body and setting the paddle ready to roll (can before or after the capsize)
- Finding the surface
Bringing the paddle to the surface ready to roll
Sweeping the paddle into position ready to support (may start to move the boat)
Catching the water to give support
- Hip flick
Rotating the boat around the hips to bring it upright
Bringing the head and body smoothly back into balance
Paddle stroke to stabilise the boat and prepare for whatever is coming next
Teaching the Seven Steps
To obtain some consistency in approach here are a few general tips on how to approach coaching the student to achieve a safe consistent roll …
- Don’t skip the steps
Make sure each step is effective before moving on, correct errors as you go.
- Use drills to practice each step
Stick to the same drills to encourage kinesthetic learning.
- Stick to one coach
For a consistent approach stick to the same coach but don’t be afraid to ask if you’re not making progress.
- Emphasise what has worked
Avoid focussing and over analysing what has not worked. Workout how to replicate the positives (establish ‘trigger’ moves for your student).
- Everyone is different
Accept your own personal roll, tips and tricks will not suit everyone. Find what works for your student.
- Don’t do too much
Do something different before your student’s performance goes downhill due to fatigue or frustration. You probably won’t teach a good roll in one session.
- Set objectives
Agree the next step to focus on. This may mean working on flexibility or strength exercises between sessions.
- Practice between session
Make use of pool time by using visualisation techniques to practice between session
Consider the safety of you, your student and those around you. Think about …
- Arm above or behind the head or fully extended (locked) is bad
Avoid these positions but if they occur stop and carefully readjust
- Let go of the Paddles
If the student gets in tangle instruct them to let go of the paddle
- Pull people up slowly without the paddle
If you need to right someone do it slowly and make sure they have let go of the paddle
- You don’t need power to roll
emphasise paddle and body position not power. Too much power can lead to injury.
Other Safety considerations
- Make sure you can right your student
Have an assistant if necessary and stick to the shallows if you are short
- Ensure you have enough space
Hitting the side or others just leads to failed rolls and possible injury
Some useful ideas for developing each step of the role …
- Support stokes on coach’s hands - coach supports paddle to develop effective supports
- Forced supports - coach tips boat to force solid supports
- Rescue off hands or paddle - develops awareness and dependency on a solid support
- Swim to side - coach to guide boat following capsize, swim and then self rescue
(full roll on both exercises i.e. go over away from the support or side)
- Dry setup - walking around setting an imaginary paddle (practice on both sides)
- Blind setup - setup with closed eyes, open eyes and check the setup
Finding the surface
- Surface slap - Break the surface and slap water, develops good body position and paddle awareness
Dry practice - support boat while student makes sweep without capsizing
- Spray deck catapult - Needs to be seen to explained!
As per support strokes (above) but alternate with rolling to make kinesthetic connection
Hand roll - hand roll of float or support to develop hip flick
- Balance exercises - Try different boats (long and short) to experiment with balance
- Single blade kayak roll - emphasises follow up support
- Roll and paddle off - Roll and then immediately paddle away