Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Post 2 for today: An editorial

I love teaching...any thing...and, like many like me, I have my favorite techniques and methods. What works for one teacher may not work for me. I am intuitive and trust my guts. I listen and watch and get a feel for what the student wants and needs and make every effort to meet that need. Not one size fits all, and there are students with whom I quickly realize I will not have success. I recommend them to other instructors. That said, this past weekend's symposium has brought up for me an axe which I continue to grind: how to teach rolling.

This episode started when an instructor told the rolling students not to expect to roll that day and that it might take a few summers to learn the technique. I could not believe what I was hearing. Translation: you will not roll. Nice mind set for students.

I asked only to work with those students who had never had a rolling lesson or, at least, not a lesson to learn the C-C roll. There were 3 assigned to me.

Right off, I told them that I expected them to roll that day. "It might not happen," I said, "but I expect it to...and, I expect it to be within the hour." I then gave my spiel about how you cannot roll up a kayak and to not use the term hip snap. Then I did my thing with them. Within the hour, all 3 had a roll (one fellow barely, but he could do it if he lay back). I was delighted for the students, and they seemed amazed and pleased with how easy the process actually went. Then, a fellow paddled over, and I heard his wife say, "You should spend some time with him (me)."

The man said he was exhausted. I asked why, and he said it was from the rolling lesson he had just taken. It was to learn the C-C, which he didn't learn. I spent 5 minutes introducing my style, then told him to stay away from any rolling lessons for a while so that his brain could forget what they had been showing him.

I believe the C-C tradition comes from the white water paddlers and that those who teach it tend to be younger and more athletic paddlers. Furthermore, I feel that that roll carries an increased risk of shoulder injuries. Why even bother with it when the modified sweep roll can be learned in 20 minutes?

So, there's my piece. That's what works for me with most students. I realize that others have other effective ways of teaching as well.

Paddle safe...


Alex said...

I absolutely agree. While on occassion I do teach a modified C-to-C roll with a slight layback to tall, young, flexible people with loose hips, I do tend to teach the modified screw roll or a standard sweep roll to most folks. A good instructor can just as successfully teach a C-to-C as any other roll but a good instructor would hopefully choose the roll for the student based on the student's body type and flexibility rather than forcing their style on the student.

That brings me to your other point... instructors that claim that rolling is hard are idiots and should not be teaching the roll. Is that harsh enough? They are simply wasting peoples time, needlessly frustrating people about our sport, and inflating their egos by pretending they have a skill unatainable by others. Grrr...

Silbs said...

The sad part is that the instructor who said that is a good teacher and fine fellow. I have a hunch he didn't realize what he was putting out. Hope your pulse rate is back under 100 :)

DaveO said...

Amen gents. This was a perfect lead in to my rolling instruction post today.

JohnB said...

Set-up to fail--the self fullfilling prophecy. Don't expect to roll today and you won't!

Alex said...

My pulse is back down under 100. :) It's a touchy subject for me because after all the work so many people have done to demystify the roll, its frustrating to have people out there trying to elevate this basic skill to an unatainable plateau.

On a related note, I was out on the water last week with a girl who was in my spring whitewater class who wanted to learn to roll. As she was getting ready to go in the water, she asked me if she needs her wetsuit (water is in the high 70s). I asked her if she planned to swim? She replied "good point" and started off to get changed into her wetsuit. That's when I stopped her and said that I was inferring that she didn't need it because I fully expected her to roll. I hopped in my boat and as we paddled into the middle of the little lake, I coached her a little and soon enough she was rolling like a champ and easily doing balance braces.

The point is, that the student will always doubt their abilities because the unknown sparks uncertainty. Its up to the coach to bring that confidence to the table. Like John said, if you're both expecting to fail, you absolutely will.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I thought it was just me. At the end of the season 4 years ago a kayak rep at a demo days taught me to do a sweep roll and I was in heaven.... empowered and pumped, enjoyed rolling and taught a friend to roll. I started to work on the weak side. After paddling most of the next year and not rolling, (practicing), much I lost it. Then a good friend and respected instructor offered to work with me. All emphasis was on the C to C, working on hip snaps body and paddle position. I'm 54 overweight and went home sore without a successful roll. I've never rolled again. I now limit my paddling to mellow conditions I could bring a beginner to. I don't think I ever take a C to C roll lesson again-to discouraging.

Silbs said...

I am posting this for Carl:
True what I said was negative, however looking out over the crowd of students and realizing that we had about 20 minutes to work with each one, the chances of everyone rolling was slim. What I said, or what I thought I said was, some of you may not make your roll today. I thought I followed that with, we are giving you some skills to take home and practice so you will eventually get the roll. Too many times I have seen students think that they will get their roll in the first few attempts, only to be crushed when they spend a full day or week learning. I said it and I stand by it, and if people think I am ignorant because of it, so be it. Carl White De Pere, WI

I appreciate this e mail, Carl. I didn't name you because I was generalizing about others I've seen over the years. Your post makes clear what you had in mind, and it makes sense to me.Silbs

Silbs said...

Please add my cell phone to the post, I would be glad to field calls. 920-660-2923