Preparing for these two weeks of rolling on the blog took a lot of work, and unfortunately came at a time when I have been very busy. I wanted to have great video for lots of great rolls. I shot video of a student named Heather working on her hip snap, but the camera placement wasn't very good. So I re-shot the hip snap of myself. And then, just as I was writing how easy it was to roll, my roll fell apart.
I went last week with my whitewater friend, solely to shoot rolls, and while I could roll, I didn't miss any, I wasn't happy with them. They weren't fluid, and flowing the way they should be. My head would come up a little, My sweep roll - which is generally my emergency roll because it is so fast - didn't want to work. I never swam, but I wasn't very happy with the outcomes. And the reason is simple, I was thinking about it. I wasn't taking my head out of the game.
Today was a different story. Again Andy - my whitewater friend - wanted to go for a paddle, but it was just a very different environment. We talked for a while about our families, while splashing about in the water, we did some rolls, he in his whitewater kayak, me in my Delta. Everything flowed beautifully. I worked on balance bracing which is the beginnings of my forays into Greenland rolling - I could use a Greenland teacher if anyone knows someone - and even moved my seat around. My Delta has an amazing seat which not only adjusts at the back band, but can slide forward and back on tracks. I have never moved the tracks before, just leaving it where it was when it came from the factory, and after playing I may keep it an inch or so further forward. What I loved though was when I was doing the balance brace I let my seat back recline as much as I could to get my back close to the back deck, and it was a lovely amount of freedom. It still supported me lower down, but really increased how much back deck I can reach. I will continue to play with this feature.
So, if someone with a solid roll, can have a bad day, how are you supposed to be sure you are going to have your roll when you need it? The answer is simple. Practice practice practice. But PO you say, you practice, and you still had a bad day. A valid point, but here are a couple of takeaways for you. Even on my bad day I didn't swim. When my sweep roll didn't work, I switched to a C to C and was upright. But what has to happen is when you are unexpectedly underwater you have to say - STOP - now relax. Now four steps:
Dragon Bows Head - Even if you are underwater you can start here. Just get your hands out of the water and your paddle parallel to the kayak, and you are ready to go.
Dragon Spreads His Wings - left hand over your bottom resting on the hull, right hand 90º to the keel
Dragon Flicks His Tail - hip snap, head down.
Dragon Flies Away Forward - paddle away.
You need to be able to turn that switch on, that is the skill. and that is the hardest part of rolling. You're not thinking about what if, you are thinking about what next. When I spar there are also good days and bad days. Generally the days I am thinking about how to strike, I get punched in the nose. Whereas days when I just strike, I don't. That is a great incentive to stop thinking. When I think, I get punched in the nose - don't think. In rolling it is the same, but the punishment isn't quite as obvious. You just don't get back up. I bet if someone punched you in the nose every time you lifted your head, you wouldn't lift your head.
Four steps, then paddle forward, because everything comes back to the forward stroke.