Learning to Backroll and how not to lose your bikini landing it
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
So you're whizzing left and right and after spending 7 months longer than planned perfecting those damned transitions, you're now smashing over those kicker waves, sliding into toe side with ease and (a bit of) style and you're almost jumping well enough that you don't finish a session with severe ab-burn.
You're ready and you're hungry for the next trick. The problem is, everyone you ask, seems to keep telling you it's time to learn to backroll.
We have whittled down the best You Tube edits to help you learn and given you our TOP SECRET tips for you to perfect in no time.
A BACK ROLL?! As in, basically a backflip while your board stays on your feet and your kite obediently stays in exactly the same position as when you started this momentous rotation. No chance.
I've always thought there has got to be something easier than to learn a back roll after having only just mastered a teeny tiny, slightly uncontrolled and full of fear jump. But it seems everything you read and everyone you ask tells you the same; transitions, toe side, jumps, …. Back rolls.
Want somewhere to practice those tricks - AND your new Backroll? Click here to join us at one of our She Flies Adventure and Progression Trips!
Having following this journey and now firmly in the back rolling club, I'm sorry to say; everything and everyone was right. Learning a backroll opens up not just other tricks - and a whole wealth of other tricks - but it brings you a new level of confidence and capability with your kiteboarding. You will learn to feel where the kite is and be confident on your bar action to get it to where you want it to be - without having the opportunity to check that your instincts are right.
Check out Paula Novotna's style when we caught up with her in Greece this year...
Of course, like every stage of progression, if you're enjoying your Kiteboarding without moving on, there's no need to push yourself and if you don't fancy the challenge, then enjoy your riding and your passion for the sport. But for me, the pride you gain from landing your first back roll is incomparable to any of the pride you've felt since learning to kiteboard - INCLUDING the first board start!
I would strongly recommend pursuing this one.
Where to start? You can get lost in the world of You Tube from video after video claiming the best instruction on 'How To'. So we've whittled it down to the best two, in our eyes.
The Kitesurf College gives a simple and safest version of backrolls - using the kite to give you the lift you need, giving you time to figure out the rotation, rather than a more aggressive backroll that you can learn later, using just the edge of the board.
The way they include the bar position on the screen as they show the kite position gives a really clear explanation that words don't do justice.
Karolina Winkowski gives an awesome chance to see her in action. Karoline focuses more on the more agressive style of backroll here, focusing on the edge more than the kite movement.
However, her simple instruction accompanied by her smooth riding gives you a really good vision of how you will look when you perfect the style.
If you're anything like I was, you'll watch and re watch the above, get into the water full of confidence, start the transition and as soon as you do, your mind goes blank and approximately 0.0004 seconds later you are neck deep in the water, your board is what looks like 500 metres behind you and you have hair in your eyes, nose and back of your throat. God knows where the kite is.
(In fact for me, at one point in Dakhla, my bikini bottoms were also with my board about 7km behind me. We will leave that for another article.)
1. Slow down.
Practise makes perfect, of course, but that is a frustrating phrase to hear when the above happens again and again and again. The truth is, it really does, the more you rotate your body and feel comfortable doing it, the more vision, understanding and muscle memory you gain and the closer you get.
The thing is, it's more likely than not that you're powering into this back roll ready to rip off the water like Mikali Sol for your first attempt. Slow. Down.
The secret is, you don't need speed to start and complete a back roll. Arrive into the trick a little slow and with more control. That way, you have more thinking time and actual time to play with. Regardless of which of the two back rolls you're trying, use that kite as much as you need to until you feel confident with the rotation and time is the key to get that confidence.
You have more time than you think, use it.
2. Load and pop
I know what you're thinking - load and what now? "Load and pop" - it's a phrase that is used and over used in Kiteboarding but something you need to know.
In order to get that 'rip' off the water people keep talking about, you need to create tension in the lines, an energy against the kite. And to do that you need to load and pop.
Also known as 'edge', load means to load up the lines with tension. To do that, as you direct your kite up to 12, you need to direct your board away from the kite. Imagine drawing a line on the water in the direction you're going, then sharply turning your board perpendicular away from the kite, as if you're creating a 'Nike tick' - that action pulls away and creates further tension ready for you to pop out, and start your rotation.
3. Let go!
Take your back hand OFF. I know. It's crazy, right? But take that flipping back hand off that bar and you will be overwhelmed by the result; finally your kite will stay exactly where you want it to be, trust me.
Think about it. As you take off, you've just pulled the kite up to 12 (with your back hand). If you keep that hand on the bar, you keep that pressure on the bar. Pressure on the bar means you whizz on past 12 and over to the other side of the wind window, not back down the way you want it to go.
Take. Your. Hand. Off. Your front hand pulling down on the bar is fine, it will be enough to bring the kite back down into the right position in preparation for you to finish your rotation and ride off into the sunset thinking, 'did I… did I just…. '
If you're worried about taking it off fully, just loosen the grip a little bit, take your fingers off, just do something to come between your brain and a natural pull on the bar. And hey, if you can take your hand off comfortably, it means you're already ready to add in a grab! Wow girl, you're progressing FAST!
4. Where your head goes, your body will follow
Spot your landing. This one is hard to explain but spotting your landing is key to not over rotating. It's simple. If you have time to consider it, look down at that water exactly where you want to land - if you look at it - you will land on it.
Forgetting to spot your landing still means an over rotation even if you've been back rolling for years. I never try double backrolls, I just do them when I forget to spot my landing on the first way round!
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