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Best Beginner Kayak Roll Debate

The "C-to-C" and "Sweep" rolls are the two most popular rolls for new paddlers to learn, and the most common rolls that you'll see being used on the water. What makes them so popular is the fact that they break the roll into three defined, easy-to-understand steps.

And there's a debate among kayak instructors as to which roll is the best to teach new kayakers. I've taught both techniques and have found both to work really well. It all depends on the paddler. In fact sometimes, I've started with one technique, and have found that the paddler struggled. I've moved to another technique, and had great success.

There are pros and cons to both. For example, the benefits of the Sweep roll is that it requires less set-up, your paddle doesn't usually end up as deep in the water, and your paddle offers longer lasting support. On the flip-side, the Sweep roll can be slightly more difficult to learn, because two steps from the C-to-C roll are combined into a single motion, which opens up a bit more room for error.

Whichever style you learn, it's worth knowing that neither is necessarily an accurate representation of the rolling technique that you'll end up using as you become a more proficient paddler.


In fact, I refer to both the C-to-C and Sweep rolls as learning rolls. Ultimately, with experience, you'll develop an instinctual roll. An instinctual roll takes advantage of the fact, as long as I get my head and body out to the surface, and my paddle in a position to catch enough water, I can roll from virtually any position.


This is why - when you watch a really good paddler roll - it seems as though they're not even setting up. That's because they don't need to go through the full set-up that we're about to look at. Their trick is to move their body and paddle directly to a position that gives them the leverage they need to roll the kayak upright with their hips. Of course, this comes with time and lots of practice.


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