The Straightjacket Roll

Question: I can do an elbow roll easily, even slowly, but I am having trouble with the Straightjacket Roll. I can usually do a “double elbow roll,” and also roll with my fingers interlaced in front of my chest. Any suggestions are welcome.

Answer: Often when first attempting the Straightjacket Roll, the paddler tries to “sweep” onto the back deck, and essentially bumps into it. They can hang out there all day (breathing), but not actually get onto the deck. Does this sound familiar? In this description, the “sweep” is the problem. This “sweep” usually works with a hand roll, fist roll, brick roll and sometimes even the Elbow Roll, but it will not work with the Straightjacket Roll. For the Straightjacket Roll, you need to think of your upper body as a lever, and instead of trying to “sweep” onto the back deck, push your upper body toward the ground, which will give you the leverage to fully recover. Following are the steps to a successful Straightjacket Roll (described with a right-side recovery):

– Place your arms against your chest with your fingers and thumbs under your armpits.

– Capsize to the left with your shoulders parallel to the side of the kayak and your forehead down (this will give you a rounded spine).

– RELAX until your body gets to the highest position possible on the right side of the kayak (your shoulders should be parallel to the surface).

– Throw your upper body toward the ground, using your back as a lever and keeping your shoulders parallel to the surface. Simultaneously, drive hard with the right knee.

– Slide up onto the back deck (your head may hit the side of the kayak during the recovery).

– Helen

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