My basic philosophy of rolling practice is: try to mess up your roll.
I mean, if you keep doing what works easily, you arenít learning any further. If your onside roll is feeling pretty good, work on your offside. If your offside feels good, too, mess around with your onside.
Flip, count to 10, and roll up. See how long you can hold your breath underwater and still roll up. Me, Iíve held my breath for ten minutes at a time. My friends say that explains a lot, but I donít know what they mean.
Paddle at high speed ítil you're about out of breath. Flip, and roll up.
Flip, put your paddle into the air and twirl it, and roll up.
Work toward a handroll: choke up on your paddle, soís you have less Tork on the blade. If youíve choked up to the point where your hand is on the paddle blade, maybe youíre ready to take it to the next level. Place your paddle right next to your boat, flip, try handrolling; if it doesnít work, grab your paddle and roll up. (Half the time, you'll find that you rolled up with the ďnon-power faceĒ of the paddle!) Or try to handroll using those handpaddles, or some beat-up old Ping-Pong paddles. If you have an onside handroll, try your offside. If that doesnít work, roll up on your onside.
If your handrollís feeling pretty spiffy, try a one-hand roll. If thatís feeling good, try handrolling with a fist, ratherín an open palm. If that works for you, try the no-hands roll. (I have yet to get one of these ;(.)
Flip, get your buddies to mow you down with their boats; reach up, shove them off your bottom, and roll up.
Etc. The key is: rolling under adversity. If you're never messing with your roll, then itís perfect in glassy calm water, but the current and the waves and the whitewater might frique you out. But if you keep messing with your roll, then the normal garbage that the river does to you will seem like kid stuff by comparison.
Oh, yeah; I almost forgot: messing with your roll is fun. And if you have fun, youíll keep coming to rolling practice.
Speaking of rolling under adversity, itís often fun to fill your boat with water and roll. Then you wonít have the pathetic ďmy sprayskirt blewĒ excuse for your next swim. And try rolling a few times without those cushy comfy noseplugs. You might not have them on your nose, the next time you flip in whitewater.
Iíve posted this advice before, and will likely post it again (including the now-tired joke about holding my breath for ten minuets). Maybe it belongs somewhere in Greg Owenís FAQ Questions list.
Oh...by the BTW: I donít understand why some people attend rolling practice without their helmet and PFD Device. If youíll be wearing them in whitewater, you might as well be wearing them during rolling practice.
Finally: one year, we had some people posting their ďrolling timesĒ in rec.boats.paddle. Send me an email, telling me how many seconds it took for you to get ten rolls on your onside, ten on your offside, with and without paddle (if you have a handroll, that is). Iíll post the list as a new page in the Ratt Hole. (You gotta be wearing helmet and PFD Device, or it donít count.) As I recall, a good time for ten onside handrolls was less than 30 seconds. Ten paddle-rolls was usually about five or ten seconds slower. Ready, set? Go!