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Common Rolling Mistakes

I wish learning to roll was as easy as it looks on a film. In reality, it's not anything like that. I took three years to learn to roll. I made lots and lots of mistakes, and I had to work through an awful lot of them myself. You have to be fairly committed to wanting to do it, and then put the time in, because it's time that makes a difference. It's never as simple as just one mistake, but this is the best place to start.

Angle of Blade on Water

In this example, the blade of the paddle slices into the water. The drive face of the blade gets no support and cuts straight down.

Angle of Shaft to Kayak (front & rear)

Here, the blade is the correct angle to the water, but the whole paddle shaft is the wrong angle to the kayak. In this example, the blade drive face is too close to the front of the kayak, when it is pulled down against the water.

No Knee Drive

Our final common mistake is the lack of knee drive. We can show the consequences of this, but it's hard to show something not happening. However, the under-deck camera shows Gordon has taken his feet off the foot pegs, and this is where his knee was previously in contact with the underside of the deck.

Head Coming Up (forward finish)

The head coming up too early seems like an easy mistake to spot, but, frequently, it's the consequence of a different mistake. If you're doing a forward finishing roll, this is what head up looks like.

These are the seven most common mistakes people make when trying to roll a sea kayak. Compare these to your video of your rolling attempts, and try to diagnose what you're doing wrong.


Gordon suggests two different fixes for each common mistake. For example, here, the problem is Head Coming Up, and the two fixes are listed underneath:
1. Move ear to working shoulder
2. Head last using paddle float for support.


You don't have to watch them all, that could be confusing. Fast forward to the mistake you've identified that you are making and watch the two fixes to that problem. Before you head out to practice, fast forward again to watch the final session in the rolling clinic.

The video clip shown above is an edited segment taken from the DVD:  Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Vol.3.

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