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Kayak rolling

By Mark Dykeman and Kevin Redmond


Unit 9: Sea Kayaking Lesson 3

Kayak Rolling

Overview

In some schools it is now thought that introducing participants early to rolling will accelerate their progression as they move on to challenging water. To a large extent this will depend on the participants and the environment for teaching the roll. The ideal location is warm, clear water.

The rolling technique presented here is one of many methods, all of which will work for some people and circumstances. The more paddlers learn, the better they can fine-tune and adapt to their individual strengths and paddling scenarios.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand and refine the hip flick
  • To understand and practice the bow rescue as a victim and as a rescuer
  • To understand the principles of the C-to-C roll

Activity 1: Introduction to the Hip Flick

The better the hip flick, the easier the roll. A solid, well-timed hip flick makes learning the roll simply a question of sequence and timing (figure 9.9).

 

Skill Cues

  • The paddler should maintain an upright or slightly forward chest at all times during the hip flick.
  • Participants place one ear on top of the bow of another kayak and rotate the kayak back and forth at least three times.
  • Practice the hip flick equally on both sides.
  • Any leaning back to the stern should be discouraged at this stage.
  • Boat tilt can be performed using the bow of another kayak, a paddle held by an outdoor leader standing in the water, or the edge of a pool or dock.

Teaching Cues

  • Look for a full range of motion in the C-to-C roll, which is bending the spine laterally to a full extension from one side to the other.
  • Participants place one ear on top of the bow of another kayak and rotate the kayak back and forth at least three times.
  • All of this practice should be done on both sides.
  • Using the edge of the pool or dock is less desirable because there is no immediate feedback on the amount of pressure the participant is applying to get up.

Activity 2: Bow Rescue

For participants who have not perfected the Eskimo roll, the bow rescue is the next best method of righting an overturned kayak and avoiding a wet exit.

 

Skill Cues

  • Participants should be in a relaxed position while upside down and remaining braced in the kayak.
  • Both left and right hands are extended upward on each side of the kayak, first banging on the bottom of the kayak three times to get attention and moving back and forth approximately 10 centimeters (4 inches) from the side of the kayak.
  • Once contact is made with the bow of another kayak, the second hand is placed on top of the bow, allowing the participant enough leverage to lift the head out of the water.
  • At this point, most of the remaining rescue is performing a proper hip flick and follow-up (see figure 9.9).
  • A check for a good hip flick is less pressure applied to the bow of the rescue boat.
  • Proper follow-up includes the head coming up last and as close to the deck as possible before returning to normal paddling position.

Teaching Cues

  • Encourage participants to use nose plugs and goggles during this exercise. Water in the sinuses degrades the learning experience.
  • If participants are tentative, the first attempt can be made while placing one hand on the bow of the rescue kayak. This helps to prevent some of the disorientation.
  • Emphasize that good execution of bow-rescue skills will accelerate learning the kayak roll.

Activity 3: Rolling

 

Learning to roll a kayak provides a huge boost of confidence to most paddlers. Not only is it cool to roll a kayak, but rolling competence minimizes personal and group risk.

Skill Cues

  • When first learning to roll, begin the setup for the roll when you are upright, rotating the torso to the side you will tip toward.
  • Place the paddle alongside the kayak with the blade at the bow flat or preferably with an open face away from the kayak.
  • Tip the kayak over by rolling toward the paddle side (figure 9.10).
  • While underwater, confirm setup by ensuring full paddle extension. Hands are above the surface of the water and bow paddle blade is flat to slap (to check for support), or preferably the outside edge of the blade is higher than the edge near the kayak (to prevent the paddle from diving).
  • Initiate the sweep stroke with the leading blade skimming the surface while providing necessary support.
  • As the blade passes 1:30 to 2:30 of the arc, initiate the hip flick to bring the kayak to its righted position.
  • Bring the paddle to high-brace position as the head sweeps along the surface of the water to the deck.
  • The head should be the last body part out of the water.
  • Some roll progressions have the paddler finishing over the front deck whereas others finish over the back deck. Finishing over the front deck provides added protection for the face.
  • Almost all of the roll power comes from the hip flick or the C-to-C movement of the spine and not the paddle.

Teaching Cues

  • Swim goggles are helpful and dive masks are even better (to prevent water from going up the nose).
  • There are various techniques for teaching the roll; the method listed here is only one of many.
  • Full paddle extension, hands above the surface of the water, and the leading edge of the supporting blade being higher than the trailing edge of the supporting blade are essential in the setup.
  • Emphasize that almost all of the roll power comes from the hip flick or the C-to-C movement of the spine and not the paddle.
  • Some roll progressions have the paddler finishing over the front deck whereas others finish over the back deck. Finishing over the front deck provides added protection for the face and is safer in areas where underwater obstacles are close to the surface.
  • Kayaks with high back rests will make it difficult or impossible to finish over the back deck.
  • Teaching the progressions to the roll early, even if the skill is not achieved, offers a good means for visualization and mental preparation for future success.

Lesson Closure

It is not expected that participants will achieve the roll in only one lesson. What is important is that participants leave with a clear concept of the progressions and a belief that over time they will be able to achieve the roll. Part of this process may include participants sharing what worked for them and what they saw working for others.

This is an excerpt from Quality Lesson Plans for Outdoor Education.



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