Good rolling is all about momentum.  Rolling the way you are falling means that you capture the impetus created from your fall and use it to efficiently roll up.  But that means having a roll on both sides and using both rolls indiscriminately.  This was probably one of the main focuses of our instruction program this season.

Craig: Directional rolling is the whole basis of successful rolling.  And not just for river running, but play boating also.  Stern squirts provide the perfect scenario for directional rolling, and the training tool needed to practice rolling directionally.

Ryan: Directional rolling helps with an understanding that the concept of rolling is using momentum to keep the boat rolling in the direction you flipped rather than fighting to set up once you are upside down.

Juliet: It is all about rolling the way you are falling. But you have to be aggressive about pushing your front hand forward to the set up as you are falling rather than waiting until you are upside down to set up and roll.  It makes the roll effortless.

When everyone started stressing about being able to roll planning hulled boats, we sat back and looked at where the main problem lay. It was our determination that it was not in the set up (as long as you did not get all worked up about the old process of “putting your thumb on your butt”); not in the hip snap since the hip snap continues to determine whether or not you actually roll up. But the finish seemed to be where folks were falling short; specifically: 1) Leaving the paddle behind and 2) Not finishing balanced over the boat.
Craig: I defined the “center line hand rule”.  You cannot recover your weight if the back hand crosses the center line of the boat during the roll.  That is where the “punching” began with folks finishing the roll sitting way-forward with hands punched outside the walls of the boat.

Ryan: Focusing on the finish helps mentally because it gives you a fixed position on where to be when you finish the roll.  My big emphasis has been stressing bringing the paddle to the chest rather than the chest to the paddle.

Steve: Stressing the finish step of the roll really helped with stabilizing, as well as forcing everything to come together with the paddle and the spine.

Ken: Imagine paddling being analogous to tight rope walking. And the paddle is the pole a tight rope walker uses to balance.  If that “pole” is off-center, then balance is lost.  So if the paddle is not brought to the chest and balanced, then the boater is falling off the tight rope, so to speak.

Juliet: Leaving the paddle behind is probably the most common flaw in a roll.  When a paddler rolls up, if their paddle is still stuck over on the side of the boat, two things happen: one is the obvious – balance is lost. The second is more subtle: with the paddle over on the side of the boat, weight has not transitioned across the boat, so there is still a lot of edge going. With that hard edge, the opposite knee has to kick in and that is what sends a boater back over again.


Innovations in Teaching Presentations.
Ken: I have always stressed that teaching should not be a static process.  Any number of things change the dynamics of how and what you teach, including boat design, new concepts and new moves.  We are reminded that it is important to be open-minded and be willing to change our teaching presentation (as well as our own style).  It keeps our wheels turning and keeps us from thinking we have everything figured out!  This season was no exception:

Craig: I messed with some new terms “bow emphasis and “stern emphasis” in regard to posture on a back sweep; the back sweep being the only stroke that will pull either end of the boat under in play moves.

Ryan: I focused on keeping people as relaxed as possible. And helping a boater understand as much about the boat as they can (i.e.: how the part work—the bulkhead, hip pads, backband) helps in that relaxation.  I’ve also spent a lot more time with edging—working on power circles or paddling on one edge in a straight line. Being relaxed and understanding what you are doing and what you are trying to achieve comes a lot easier!

Steve: Avoiding frustration.  It is hard to relax when frustrated and the learning curve flattens out.  I was always working on new ways to get people to relax.  When relaxed, the river slows down and there is more time to think about what you are doing.

Juliet: I really emphasized doing things “different” so that patterns did not get ingrained. This included varying strokes used, changing the direction of peel-outs and particularly, working on backwards moves. I also continued with my theme of flat water drills so that folks had things to do back home, when a trip to the river was not in the cards.