Date: 30 Jan 2013 Comments: 0
SK Team Paddler Update John Radel
Last week I got to work with Helon Everett (pictured), as Charleston County Parks offered a rolling class to the public. Even in the south, the water gets cold enough that being inside and using a pool is a welcome opportunity. But, pools are a great place to learn a roll for other reasons. The water is clear and the environment is as benign and distraction free as possible (no current, waves, wind, etc.).
The class was a couple of hours each night for three nights (Mon./Weds./Fri.) and had its share of successes. Success was measured many ways and I thought the class offered an interesting cross-section of participants.
We had a “student” who was an avid paddler and had a very reliable roll. He primarily wanted the pool time to work through a specific issue with a particular roll. He had the feel for rolling and spending time in his boat upside-down was as “second nature” as it probably gets for someone. He had the experience to sort out the subtleties of why a particular attempt failed and what came together when it worked. Really, he just needed the time and the environment to focus.
We had another avid paddler who was principally a quiet water boater. He had been to several other rolling classes, had studied videos and practiced “dry land” rolling in his living room. His fundamentals were sound and his “boat sense” was probably sufficient. So, why no roll? Part of it, definitely, was mental. Our head gets in the way of rolling in two ways – there is the ten pounds of stuff at the end of our neck and there’s what that ten pounds is doing. Over thinking and lack of confidence act as anchors. On the last night he was successful with an extended paddle roll. I think this is fantastic. If he stays with it and builds that sense of what success feels like, he will gain comfort and confidence.
A couple of younger students were relatively new to paddling and were hoping to add rolling into the repertoire of other skills they were developing. The woman had some success, but wasn’t able to stay consistent. The man, by the last night, was rolling at will.
The couple I spent most of my time with was brand new to paddling. They measured success by learning about edging, bracing, self and assisted rescues. In most, if not all, of the rolling classes I have been involved in, there are students who have come to the sport thinking of rolling as a prerequisite to being on the water. I think they are seeing all of the focus on rolling (videos, articles, demos, competitions, etc.) as a mandate rather than as a sort of reverence.
I can relate to all of these paddlers. It took me a long time to get the “feel” of it because I was busy over thinking it. I had a roll several times and lost it each time because I did not work at it long enough to make it stick. I had a “pool roll” long before I had a “combat roll” because I lacked confidence. When I started paddling, I thought being a “real” paddler meant you needed an arsenal of rolls.
Despite being an instructor, I will always be a student of paddling. I appreciate sharing my journey toward a roll and the hurdles I overcame while the people I am working with teach me perspective. By the way, I’m sorry there aren’t more pictures or video. I meant to – it’s just that I get so into working with the participants that I forget!