Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rolling Rewards

I bet you think this post means, “So, she finally rolled her boat!”

Nope. I’m still rolling challenged.

It just means I’m finally starting to recognize “trying to learn how to roll” as a reward rather than an intense feeling of dread, dry mouth, and nausea.

Now, even after a practice session in which I don’t roll, I’m still smiling and very comfortable with whatever audiences I’ve gathered along the way. No matter how much I’ve messed up, I’ve managed to gain something each time. (Even if I’m the only one who thinks so!) One day I’ll post a video or two. Good, bad, or ugly.

In the past onlookers have asked me, “So, how is it trying to learn how to roll?” Me, “It really sucks!” And I forgot to add, “peeling yourself out of wet neo afterwards in a dark smelly outhouse after the sun has set and you can’t find your undergarments while others are waiting in line to use the facility isn’t so much fun either! And it really messes up your hair!” They thought it was funny, and so did I.

I have recognized that I do get very confused upside down underwater. I don’t know how doing it right is supposed to feel (yet). So far, I haven’t stumbled on the miracle teacher who can just show me the way, their way. So, I’ve decided I’m going to put together my own plan and approach for how I’m going to try to learn how to roll. Each time I head to water, I’ll have an idea of what I’m going to work on, alone or with a spotter at my deck lines. Even if I never roll, I’ll become a better paddler.

I’m not someone who’s going to pick up on all the necessary elements to rolling and learn how to put them all together in one lesson, maybe never. Some coaches try to push you too far too fast. Some will even say, “Some of my students learn the very first lesson!” Gee, great. Thanks for the helpful encouragement! Other paddlers, “I learned the very first time!” How nice.

I’m starting to do a little more research on the topic, watch videos of teachers I like and the techniques they employ. I have started to set my own agenda for what I’d like to try to do and how I’d like to approach it. It’s going to be just one piece of the pie at a time for me, the one I choose on any given day, and at my pace, not the “Full Monty.” Then the coach can watch and tell me what I did right or wrong, or help me try to figure it out. The coach can always suggest and propose things. I can consider and decide if I want to give it a try. This is the path I’ll follow for now.

And why am I doing this? Trying to learn how to roll?

Well, two reasons.

Reason number one: MY BOAT! It is so righteous in water.

Reason number two: All the little kids hanging out on the beaches I have paddled from over the years who have called out to me and said, “Hey lady, will you roll your boat for us!”

For all you coaches out there grinding your teeth right now, I know the number one reason for learning how to roll should be for safety and self-rescue, so I’ll add that on my list as reason number three.

To sum it up, here are some of my rolling rewards

  • Changing my perspective. (Upside down is a perspective?!)
  • Gaining some control over how I choose to learn. (Coaches may run from me or like me better.)
  • Becoming a better, more relaxed paddler
  • Loving my new boat! My Maelstrom Vital makes me want to learn and keep trying. If I can learn how to roll, this is the boat I’m going to do it in.
  • Appreciating all the yoga I’ve been doing even more. It rocks.
  • Learning how to get water out of my ears
  • Creating this list, which will likely grow
  • Enjoying a full moon once in a while!

Happy rolling practice! Don't suffer . . . too much.
The Baffin Paddler

What are your rolling rewards?


  1. Like you, I don't have a roll yet, but I'm working on it. I had some good success during a couple of sessions this summer and still need to get out some more yet. I also intend to take advantage of pool sessions over the winter months.

    My rolling rewards:
    *Removing the "fear of the edge" - when I have a bomb-proof roll, then I'll be able to be so much more comfortable using all of the surfaces of my kayak.
    *Removing the current limits on my safe paddling - when I have my roll, one that works in all conditions, I can head out into those conditions and enjoy them to their fullest.
    *To roll is to have boat control - related to my first two points, but sorta goes beyond them.
    *To roll is to have boat awareness - the practicing helps me become intimately familiar with how the kayak moves with my body and reacts to posture and position.

  2. I don't know about rolling rewards yet as I am still attempting to be able to do it myself. It is quite frustrating though, especially as I am finding that, after a few attempts with my instructor rolling me back up after a fail, I feel really motion sick. Not a great feeling.