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Rolling is an important skill for kayak paddlers. Without it many of the benefits of being sealed into the boat by a spray skirt are lost. For the advanced sea, surf or white water paddler, an awkward, tiring or dangerous swim may be prevented, and in the competitive disciplines much time may be saved by an efficient and reliable roll. Intermediate paddlers can learn and practice off-balance maneuvers more confidently if they know that a roll will recover them from their errors and beginners will develop good water confidence and three-dimensional thinking if they learn to roll early.
Rolling is normally learned in a swimming pool. Calm, warm water, good visibility and the confidence engendered by a controlled and safe environment all help to make this the preferred situation, but if a pool is not available it is not difficult to learn in open water, although the approach is different. If rolling is learned in a pool, it must in any case be proved in the real situation before any claim to competence can be made.
This site outlines the history and principles of rolling before going on to explain how to perform and teach various types of kayak roll. The section on principles does not need to be understood before rolling is attempted but some pupils and teachers may find it useful in sorting out problems or refining technique.