Coaching the Roll

A methodical approach to safely coaching the roll

Adam Hall (20 Nov 2013)

Animated Roll

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.

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 …

  1. Setup
    Positioning the body and setting the paddle ready to roll (can before or after the capsize)
  2. Finding the surface
    Bringing the paddle to the surface ready to roll
  3. Sweep
    Sweeping the paddle into position ready to support (may start to move the boat)
  4. Support
    Catching the water to give support
  5. Hip flick
    Rotating the boat around the hips to bring it upright
  6. Recovery
    Bringing the head and body smoothly back into balance
  7. Support
    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 …


Consider the safety of you, your student and those around you.  Think about …

Shoulder Dislocation

Other Safety considerations

Training Drills

Some useful ideas for developing each step of the role …

Support Strokes

Eskimo Rescue


Finding the surface



Hip flick