Taking Your Roll to the River

 How to get your pool roll ready for the river


Several things will be different as you take your roll to the river.  These will distract you from applying everything you've learned and practiced so far in the pool.  They will make you think "wet-exit now" rather than "remain calm and execute a roll." 

Cool/cold water: Cold water will trigger instincts you didn't know you had.  You'll rush more than you think and you'll think you are running out of air sooner than you are.

More clothing: base layers, dry top, PFD, and helmet will make it seem harder to roll.  

Moving water:  current, rocks, muddy water will be added distractions over what you are used to in a nice, calm, clear pool.

Surprise:  When you get flipped, it will come as a complete surprise.  You won't be in the setup position and you may have not taken a deep breath.


Things to practice in the pool to get ready to take your roll to the river

 Practice, practice, practice your roll

Practice your roll until the roll is second nature and very efficient.  You should be able to do tens of rolls in a short period of time without being tired, and with no wet-exits.  If you are getting tired, chances are your roll is not as efficient as it should be.  Get someone to critique your roll for you.  

 Flip while not in the roll set up position

   First, try having both arms straight up with the paddle over your head, and then flip yourself in the water.  Once you've got that, try with the paddle just in a neutral position in front of you, or completely on the opposite side of the boat, then in totally random positions. 


The point you are trying to learn is "paddle dexterity."  How to orient the paddle under water so it quickly moves where you want it without applying much force.  If you feel the water pushing back as you move the paddle, work on finding the position of the blade that you are moving the most so it has the least resistance to the water as you move it to the starting position for the roll.

Generally, the way to do this is to flex the wrists.  This will put the paddle face on your dominant hand in a position to slice through the water.  Since its also the position of the wrists in the roll starting position, you will be ahead of the game.


 Get a partner to flip you by surprise

 This is a good way to practice both bracing and rolling.  


 Things to practice on the river

 On every river trip, practice a roll at the start


Practice a roll or two in the first slackwater at the start of a trip - get used to the water temperature, clothing, etc. while at the same time practicing a roll when you are not surprised.

Always check the water depth before practicing a roll in a river.  Also, have someone ready to give you a bow rescue if it becomes necessary.


 Practice your roll in slackwater portions of your trip

You aren't doing much anyway during flat stretches of water.  Fire off a roll or two. 

Always check the water depth before practicing a roll in a river.  Also, have someone ready to give you a bow rescue if it becomes necessary.

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