Get Ready to Play – Eskimo Roll Revisited準備好要去玩船囉 – 再談 Eskimo Roll

Last Tuesday I was very happy because I managed to do my off-side roll many times. Even though I still had to set up before my body entered the water to ensure a successful roll, it was an accomplishment to me. Especially when I recalled the first few attempts, during which I was totally disoriented and all the muscles were locked up, how couldn’t I be proud? Oh, please allow me to self indulge for a moment.

After practicing Eskimo rolls for many sessions, I could see my improvement. My rolls are still far from being perfect, but every time I practice a roll, I think beforehand, analyze afterwards before I give it another try. From this process I have gathered some ideas (or tips); they helped me to make my rolls smoother, and maybe they will be useful to you as well.

1. Relax

Relax. This is a tricky thing. How can I relax if I know nothing or little about what I am going to try? Even though I know so clearly that not relaxing builds up a significant barrier against a successful Eskimo roll, it’s just natural to be nervous when facing the unknown.

I used to hate people who reminded me, “You need to relax,” and right now I am one of them. To relax takes time, so take your time. For mind preparation, the old saying is that you won’t run out of breath because a roll takes only four seconds in average. And I say make yourself comfortable when you practice. Practice in a warm and clean swimming pool and find yourself a spotter who will turn you over if you don’t make it.

Accumulate your confidence by practicing more. The moment you level up your confidence, you shed your fear. An Eskimo roll is not an all-or-nothing thing, so don’t think falling back into water is a failure. Compare this roll with the previous ones, maybe you have rotated more, maybe you feel more comfortable, maybe you get more accustomed to being up-side down, and all of above counts as accomplishment.

2. Set up, Set up, Set up

I cannot emphasize more on how important a proper set-up is. Right now, if I have the set-up, I have the roll. Three things I pay attention to when I set up: a. Get my upper body as close as possible to the water surface. b. Lift my paddle as high as possible. c. Make sure that the power face of the paddle is parallel to the water surface.

When your boat is tipped over, tug yourself towards the boat as if you are going to wet exit. Rotate your body and extend both arms towards the sky. Now it’s time to take advantage of your boat to achieve a. b. and c. Bend your wrists towards the boat, which helps your paddle’s power face get parallel to the water surface. Move your arms up from the side to the bottom of the boat, the reason of doing this is two-fold: first, your paddle position is high, and second since you are “grabbing” your boat, it helps keep your upper body close to the water surface without asking too much of the torso strength.

You might have to adjust a bit if you have a different boat and paddle than mine. If you are interested, I have a Wavesport EZ and a Seven2 Axiom Paddle.

Last words on set up: Don’t rush. I practiced unprepared rolls by asking people to turn me over or to tip over on purpose after paddling a while to simulate possible river situations. Only if I waited until the boat settled, the set-up felt right to me. If I rushed to get up, I either failed to roll or did a lousy one. Give yourself a few seconds before you set-up. Once your boat settles, your mind settles too and you are ready to go!

3. Use Your Boat as the Point of Reference

When you are up-side down, it’s easy to get disoriented. No need to worry – directions are all relative. With your boat as your point of reference, plus your LEFT and RIGHT arms, you are good to go.

When performing an Eskimo roll, one arm is the dominant one while the other is the rest one. I am right-handed, so if I roll up with my right arm, I am doing an on-side roll; if I roll up with my left arm, off-side roll.

Say, right now I want to do an on-side roll. I tip my boat over, tug my body as if I am going to wet exit. Starting from the front of the boat, I will rotate counter-clockwise for about 25 degrees to set up. You actually don’t have to remember whether it’s counter-clockwise or clockwise; just keep in mind that your LEFT (the rest one) armpit will be able to hug the side of the boat, and let your RIGHT arm (the dominant one) perform the action. If I want to do an off-side roll, I’ll make sure my right armpit can hug the boat.

Your boat is your friend, and you will feel that it becomes part of you. When you set up, be sure to feel the boat, touch the boat and hug the boat. Your boat is your point of reference.

4. Sweep a Bit More Than You Think is Enough

I do C-to-C rolls, so the most powerful point for me to brace the paddle is when the paddle is perpendicular to the boat. When I practiced in the pool, my spotter often reported to me that I rolled up when my paddle only swept about 70 to 80 degrees. I could still roll up, but comparing the extra efforts with the effortless motion while bracing the paddle at the perfect timing, I know what I want.

I am told that it’s better to sweep the paddle a bit more than not enough. If your body leans too much forward when you perform the hip snap, the uneven weight distribution (most of your body weight is now at the front half of the boat) requires a much more powerful hip snap. However, it is not advised to sweep too much over 90 degrees, the reason is two-fold: a. under the water, you will expose your face to potentially harmful objects, and b. when you roll up, your body will lean backward and you will look at the sky not the river. You should always be prepared to paddle to encounter challenging river situations.

Right now, I haven’t obtained the right feeling about when my paddle is perpendicular to my boat. Interestingly, every time I remind myself to sweep a bit more after I think it’s enough, I end up getting it right – an almost perfect 90 degree angle. Therefore before I get the right feeling, I just have to sweep a bit more than I think is enough.

5. Lock ONLY One Knee

When you roll, you use only one knee, which means this knee pushes against the padding. Another knee should be totally relaxed; it does nothing, and it is mandatory for it to do nothing.

This concept is very important. If you only use one knee, your board will rotate in a single direction. If your other knee kicks in, you will generate a counter rotation which pulls your body back to water.

Also your knee position brings you the correct head position. Remember, your body forms a C when you roll up, so the correction head position is leaning towards the working knee. Try to feel the knee-head relationship when you roll: you can’t lift up your head and destroy the C unless the supposed-to-rest knee is not resting.

A common criticism to a person who just learns to roll is “You lifted your head too early.” This “lifting head too early” thing is easy to observe because it happens above the water surface and in an open space. However, I would say it is an effect rather than a cause of an unfinished roll. Your knees have contact with the boat, and they do the tricks.

If you feel that the rotation of the boat is not smooth, ask your non-working knee not to work.

The weather is getting warmer and warmer. It seems that the spring will not stay long before the summer arrives. River season is going to start and I can’t wait to take my boat to a river for some real paddling. My instructors and experienced kayaking friends have always told me, “If you paddle well, you will never have to roll.” Indeed, but it’s always nice to know that I have a roll in me. Not only does it make me fear less about river runs, but also it brings me closer to play-boating. And, didn’t I mention that my kayak is a play boat?

Related Article:
An Eskimo Roll Well-Begun Is Half Done


今冬以來,練習Eskimo roll也有好一陣子了,欣喜的是,有一點一滴地在進步中。雖然我的Eskimo roll無疑地還有很大的進步空間,不過每次練習,我都會在事前思考、事後分析一番,才進入到下一次的嘗試,這樣的歷程讓我累積不少想法(或說訣竅),也將我的Eskimo roll琢磨地愈加順暢。也許,這些心得會對其他人也有所助益:

一、 放輕鬆

千萬要放輕鬆。不過這事啊,還真有些弔詭。如果對於所要嘗試、所要練習的東西,根本就不了解,怎麼能放輕鬆?就算知道不放輕鬆,身體僵硬,對於邁向成功的Eskimo Roll的道路是絕大的阻礙,但是面對未知,緊張本來就是必然。

一向對於提醒我「你需要放輕鬆」的人有些心煩,沒想到,我現在也成為其中的一員。要到達真正放鬆的境界,是要花一番時光的,心急不得,還是得慢慢來。首先,先做些心理建設:一般來說,一個老掉牙的方式就是提醒自己:「憋氣的時間絕對遠比完成Eskimo roll的時間來長(Eskimo roll平均只需要四秒鐘)。」我說,開始練習的時候,要對自己善良點,挑一個燈光好氣氛佳的游泳池(呃,應該說乾淨而溫暖的游泳池),找一個協助者在身旁,在翻船失敗的時候,可以將你的船翻正。

再者,就要靠練習來累積信心了。多累積一份自信,就多甩掉一份恐懼。況且,Eskimo roll也不是不成功便成仁的玩意,沒完成並不代表失敗。可以將這次的嘗試和前幾次的嘗試比較,是不是多翻了些距離?是不是心裡感覺比較不那麼緊張?是不是習慣了頭下腳上?這些都是成就。


無法再更強調預備姿勢的重要性了:現在,如果我的預備動作對了,我就可以將船翻正。準備預備姿勢的時候,我注意三件事:a. 上半身需盡量靠近水平面;b. 將槳平舉舉高,愈高愈好;c. 確定槳的划槳面(power face)和水平面平行。

當船翻了,讓上半身接近船身,就好像要去親船一般,這也是wet exit的準備動作。旋轉上半身到雙手臂可以平舉槳的地方,雙手往天空方向平推。這時候就是利用你的船,來幫助你達到以上a、b、c境界的時候了。朝船身方向彎曲雙手腕,如此可以幫助你確保槳的划槳面和水平面平行。再來,雙手臂沿著船側,滑向船底,這樣做有兩個目的:1. 槳的位置會夠高;2. 用手臂「抓」船的方式來確保上半身接近水平面,也省了一些六塊肌需要盡的力量。

當然,根據使用的船和槳的種類,你可能需要稍稍調整「利用」船的方式。如果你有興趣知道,我使用的船是Wavesport EZ,以及Seven2的Axiom Paddle。



頭下腳上的時候,容易失去方向感。不過不需要擔心 – 方向是相對的觀念,而非絕對。你有你的船做為參考點,加上你還不至於忘掉你的「左」「右」手,有這些就夠了。

做Eskimo roll的時候,一手為掌控手,另一手則休息。因為我是右撇子,所以如果我使用右手翻船,我做的是on-side roll;用左手翻,off-side roll。

好,現在我要做一個on-side roll,也就是使用右手做最後的壓槳。船翻了,將上半身推向船身,好像wet exit的準備動作一般;從船頭開始,上半身逆時鐘旋轉個大約25度角。說老實話,你不需要記住順時針或是逆時針,你該記住的是,你的左手(休息的那隻手)是不是可以夾船,讓你的右手(掌控手)做所有該做的動作。如果現在你做的是off-side roll,記得確定是否右手臂可以夾船。



我從事的是C-to-C rolls,所以最佳的壓槳時機,是在槳和船身成正九十度的時候。我在游泳池練習的時候,很多時候,我的協助者會告訴我,我太早壓槳了,當時,槳和船的角度也不過70到80度之間。那樣的情況下,我還是可以將船翻正,只是不像最佳時機壓槳一般,可以感覺毫不費力,輕鬆自如。比較起來,當然還是要選擇正確且輕鬆的。

一般來說,寧願轉太多,也不要轉不夠。因為如果轉不夠,翻船的時候,大部分的重量都集中在船的前半身,重量分配的不平均,導致要求更強大、更具爆發力的hip snap。哦,當然轉太超過90度也不好,原因如下:在水面下,容易導致暴露臉部於河中危險物體的威脅;另外,當船翻正的時候,視線不是朝前,而是朝上,身體微微向後傾,不能馬上因應接踵而至的河面波浪和激流。船翻正之後,最理想的狀況是能夠馬上進入划槳動作。



Eskimo roll的時候,只有一邊的膝蓋出力,也就是說這邊的膝蓋會抵住船側。另一邊的膝蓋,則需要完全放鬆,千萬不要出力。



初學者最常聽到的批評往往是:「你太早抬頭了」。這大概是因為頭的動作是最容易被觀察到的,誰叫它發生在水面上,船身外呢?不過,與其說抬頭造成Eskimo roll的失敗,不如說抬頭是失敗的Eskimo roll的副產品。因為膝蓋才是和船有接觸點的地方,是膝蓋造成轉動方向的挪移。


天氣是愈來愈暖了,好像春天沒停留多久,夏天就開始迫不及待了。划船季節就要開始了,實在等不及將我的小船拖進河裡,乘風破浪了。教練和朋友常常說:「如果你懂得怎麼好好操控船,你根本就不需要Eskimo roll」這當然是囉,誰想要翻船呢?不過在沒有得到專家級的操船技術之前,知道自己可以將船翻正,多少像是服了定心丸。更何況我的小船可是一艘play boat,要玩浪,怎麼可以不知道如何Eskimo Roll呢?

好的開始是成功的一半 – 談 Eskimo Roll

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