Teaching a Student to Not Jerk Up to the Surface

Question: I occasionally get a rolling student who, no matter what I do, still jerks their head toward the surface at the worst possible moment and ruins the roll. Occasionally I even encounter someone who has their head on their shoulder but the body still jerks up. Do you have tips for breaking this tendency?

Answer: Try suggesting to your student to keep their eyebrows underwater. This will force their head back and put a nice arch in their back. If the student doesn’t respond well to that, then have them put their chin in the air. This will put them in the same position. Have the student come out into a balance brace position while you hold their kayak. Have them practice sliding onto the back deck with their eyebrows underwater. Take away the paddle while doing this, just so the focus isn’t on it. Also, you could try telling them to visualize being a floppy puppet with a string attached to the spot a couple of inches to the left or right of the belly button (depending on the side that the student is rolling up on). Have them touch that spot before attempting the roll. Tell the student that from the underwater set-up position to picture the string pulling this spot straight up and just let the body follow.

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