Recently I have volunteered my time to help out a few Juniors learning to roll in Sydney, driving a couple of hours to do so. Why? Well we always need to do our part in helping the next generation of paddlers and in doing so I felt it was a good reason to post about some ways to improve your roll. Most instructors start to teach with paddle in hand and go straight to the set up phase. Now over my many years of instruction, I invented a technique a long time ago that really helps you dial in your roll to make it everything you want it to be…… AND MORE. I call it the “Jez countdown technique.”
Firstly, throw your paddle away. Yep, that’s right. Why start with your paddle when you need to learn how to dial in your hip snap and body position. Instead, head over to the nearest dock or pool edge. Grab a hold of it with two hands, flip over and push yourself back upright. Easy right? Such a great way to start to build your confidence if you are starting to learn to roll. Great, now you have that confidence, lets try it with one hand only. Great! Now try this with four fingers and no thumb. Notice we are using less strength through our arms, this technique forces you to put your body and head in the correct position which you need for your roll. Move on to use three fingers, then two fingers, then finally use just one finger. You automatically will move into the best body position possible as to get up using just one finger without a great hip snap and body position is impossible. Now if you find yourself using your other hand you can hold onto your PFD to prevent it from cheating and being added to the side of the wall. Its forced to hold onto your pfd and not be used.
It’s amazing when you do this motion how you will automatically increase your hip snap and move into a great body position with no instruction while focusing on using less arm strength. Guys especially like to muscle their roll and use all upper body strength. I find it amazing at times seeing some of the worlds best paddlers still muscle their rolls up using mostly upper body strength. This technique will not only help those starting their roll, but it will also help those who would like to fine tune their hip snap. Now remember this motion, remember how much effort you need to put into your hip snap and where you head and body needs to be placed and use this when you add your paddle.
Add your paddle and make sure you get into the right paddle position. Remember to tuck forwards so that your helmet does it’s job and your face does not get introduced to a rock. Move your paddle out to the side and set up so that the paddle is at a right angle to your kayak and sitting on top of the water with the power face pointing down flat on the water.
So, in summary try to do a hip snap using your hands on a dock or the front of someones boat, and then use less fingers and less upper body strength which requires your body to move to the right position. Your body will naturally go to this correct position every time. It is also a great way to recheck your roll, it will focus placing your body correctly and really work your hip snap.
Have a look at this video that is a segment from one of my instructional DVD’s
This video shows the motion of using the side of a pool to focus on using less arm strength and more hip snap. This little trick I call the Jez countdown technique.
Also check out paddleeducation.com for more instructional info. I hope you enjoy this technique, now go out there and try it.