How To Kayak Roll - Step By Step Guide

Canoes and Kayaks

If you’re a kayaker, then you know that being able to kayak roll is an essential skill. Not only does it help you stay safe in the event of a capsize, but it’s also just a really fun trick to master.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to kayak roll (also know as an ‘Eskimo Roll’). We’ll cover everything from getting into the correct position to executing the kayak roll properly. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, this guide will have you rolling like a pro in no time!

how to kayak roll

Why Is Learning To Kayak Roll Important?

When you are out kayaking, knowing how to kayak roll is important in case you flip or capsize. This generally only applies to those who use sit-in kayaks as you would simply fall out if you flipped a sit-on-top kayak.

Without a reliable kayak roll, you may get yourself into trouble, especially in white water with high rapids ratings where there isn’t always help available. Climbing back into an overturned kayak can be difficult in certain circumstances, so learning to kayak roll can often be the easiest way to get back on top.

Where To Practice The Kayak Roll

While kayak rolls seem tricky, with little practice, anyone can do it. You may be wondering where the best place to learn kayak roll is? We suggest simply practicing in any body of calm water, such as swimming pools or lakes. Any body of water where there are no waves, currents, or submerged obstacles is a safe place to learn.

Having someone in the water beside you can also be helpful when you first attempt to kayak roll. Get them to help by holding the paddle, keeping the blade at the surface and assist in rolling you  if necessary.

How To Kayak Roll:

There are quite a few different styles of kayak rolling, however, the C-to-C roll is one of the most popular types of kayak rolls. It gets its name from the motion created by your paddle when performing the maneuver—commonly used for white water paddling as it is a quick movement and can be done in smaller spaces.

Let’s take a look at how to do the C-to-C kayak roll.

The Set Up

Setting up for this kayak roll, you will need to align your paddle to one side, parallel to the kayak. Ensure the paddle is on the side of the kayak opposite your dominant hand. Hold the paddle right above the water’s surface with the blade flat along the water.

Keep your paddle in the same position, tucking your head and body towards the paddle. Then, turn your body into the water while holding your paddle steady in the same place alongside your kayak. You will naturally roll into the water.

The Catch

The second stage of the kayak roll is the catch. This refers to the action of grabbing the water with your paddle blade for support, so you are then able to hip snap yourself upwards.

Use your opposite forearm as a pivot against the bottom of the kayak, and swing your front paddle blade to 90 degrees. Pull downward against the water’s surface and use your arm against the kayak bottom as leverage to increase the strength of your pull.

This is where you will perform a hip snap to help force your kayak back to its upright position. As you press the paddle down against the water, use your hip and dominant knee to rock the kayak upright.

The Recovery

The recovery refers to the final position you end up in after your kayak roll.

As you roll up, make sure your head and shoulders come out of the water last- if you lift your upper body out of the water too early, it can ruin the momentum of the roll.

Take a moment to catch your breath.


So there you have it – our comprehensive kayak roll guide. We hope this has been helpful and that you feel more confident in your ability to execute this essential skill. Remember, practice makes perfect!


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About The Author 

Hi, my name is Andy and I am the creator and owner of I’ve been into water sports for as long as I can remember and I love nothing more than spending a day on the water with my family. This website is a way for me to share my passion with everyone, through providing some helpful guides and tips for canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

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