By: Dwayne Parton

Gasp, the Roll Killer


So I discovered a habit I have and have been continually working to break. My roll is pretty good but I noticed that when I get tired, sometimes it might take me 4-5 attempts before I ever roll up. One day I realized the problem. It was the sound that brought it to my attention. Uhhhhhh! The Gasp. An all to familiar sound that we make when we have been under water for longer than we desire. I noticed that every time I gasped for air, I was setting my roll up for failure. I caught my self thinking as I was upside down that I just need one breath, so I would set up for my roll and roll-up just enough to get my head out then I’d reach for the sky and suck in as much air as I could before I went back under. This mentality was the habit. Setting yourself up so you can catch one breath of air is setting yourself up for failure. You are telling yourself I’m not going to make the roll, I need to catch a breathe. As most instructors will tell you lifting your head will kill your roll and it will, but the root of the problem is often ironically trying to breathe which forces you to lift your head, and results in a murdered roll.

Here is a pretty good video. If I had one of myself I’d place it on here, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this.

It’s a mental game. Kayaking is such a mental sport. You have to chase out the fear and then prevent it from entering. Once it’s there, it’s hard to fight instincts. We use our go to response, SWIM! In order to fix this, for me I have to make a mental commitment to not gasp, and if I do I have to recognize that there in lies the reason that I am back in my underwater state. Settle the mind, and then roll up.