Today we're going to break down a heelside back roll. This might be the most popular trick in kiteboarding. This is actually even easier than the raley. This will be your first roll in kiteboarding. It's going to open the door to many other more advanced tricks that begin with this rotation.
The back roll is often a misunderstood trick, not because it's overly difficult but because people often mistake it for a flip. While you can invert your back rolls into a flip, more often than not they look more like an off axis 360. This is where you want to start, and it leads to a lot of fun progressions. Pair this with a front 180 and you have a back to revert. Add a back 180 and you have the back-to-blind. Take that a step further with the backside 360 and you have the KGB.
Like our raley video, I'm going to break this down into 4 parts.
- Trick Overview
- Body Position in the Air
- Common Mistakes
The basic back roll can vary from person to person, depending on your style. Things like how you pop, when you release your edge, how explosive you are in your movement, or just what you do with your body in the air all make a huge difference. There are also a couple ways to control the axis of your roll. We'll cover that in the variations section of this guide.
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There aren't many prerequisites for this trick. It can be one of the first tricks you try. As long as you know how to scoop and pop, you are good to go. Knowing how to raley wouldn't hurt, but some people learn back rolls first. This is actually the easiest trick. It's the most natural because when you scoop, you just go with the natural flow of the release. The falls are pretty relaxed too because you can just throw your legs up and fall on your back.
Once you get the back roll dialed, you should start working on surface passes, popping to blind, the Air Krypt, and the Back to Revert. If you already can do these, go for a Back to Blind or Wrapped.
Something I'm going to push hard on this playlist is that repetition of the basics is everything. The more time you spend perfecting your back roll and riding blind, the faster you will progress into an intermediate trick like the back to blind.
The kiteboarding back roll
Step One - Trick Overview
Keep the kite at 1 or 11 o'clock and come in with good speed. Ride downwind to unhook, carve back upwind, and lean backward. Remember, just like our popping video, you need to keep good body posture and stay locked at your hips while loading up your lines. Keep your chest and hips facing the sky and treat your body as a unit.
You'll feel tension load up. For the back roll, it's a good idea to load a bit longer than the raley. You need the extra pop and height to throw you into the roll. Right as the the tension hits its apex, hold a moment longer. As you release your edge, you'll want to look over your back shoulder.
For the back roll, it might be tempting to release your edge late. I mentioned holding the edge a moment longer, but you want to do a normal scoop. If you do release late, you can even complete a good part of the rotation before you leave the water. That's actually bad form unless you're going for a bigger trick. If you are struggling with the release, go back to our popping video and try some of those tips on this trick.
As you come off the water, keep looking over your shoulder and spot your landing. Your body is going to follow your head. Keep the bar close throughout the entire roll. As you come around, pull the bar into your lead knee. Point the nose of your board towards the kite and land downwind, riding at the kite.
The body follows the head on a back roll
Step Two - Body Position
Remember, the body is going to follow your head on this trick. To initiate the roll, you just just look over your shoulder and swing your hips. At first, keep things simple and just go for a basic roll. As you leave the water, keep your arms bent and the bar close. Bring your knees into your chest and swing your hips around. You need to keep your knees tucked in for this one or you'll get stretched out. It's always good form to keep one knee more tucked than the other.
From here, you can start experimenting with how you roll, either by spinning with the momentum after your scoop or really swinging your back hip into a more inverted roll.
Also think about what you're doing with your head. If you throw your head back more and quickly bring your back knee hard into your chest, you'll invert the roll. This is where personal style comes in so just do what feels good and have fun with it!
To land, as you look over your shoulder you should be able to see the water pretty quickly; look at the water and spot your landing. Pull hard on your front hand to flick the kite down and pull the control bar hard into your lead hip. It's actually really helpful to take your back hand off the bar. Point your nose at the kite and land flat, centered over both of your feet, not favoring any edge. This will take the power out of the landing and it's going to look better.
After you land this a few times, I recommend letting go with your back hand. It's going to make everything look and feel more fluid.
To do this, as soon as you get the board under you, just bend your knees and let go with your back hand. Remember to land flat and riding at the kite. Hook back in before you lose too much board speed and ride away.
Try some hooked in grabs first, then unhook
Step Three - Variations
Like the raley, there are different things you can experiment with. Start with the standard back roll, and once you have that on lock try to start inverting your rolls more. You can throw your head back and bring your front knee in more aggressively to swing your hips up. The more you throw your head back and the closer you can get your front knee to your chest, the more you will invert. Speed helps too.
You should experiment with the axis of your rotation. The more inverted you can get this one, the better. This is also an easy trick to try grabs. Taking your back hand off the bar for a grab will cause you to redirect the kite down, making the trick and the landing naturally look better. The trick to learning unhooked grabs is to practice while hooked in. Try a few sent jumps getting the grab. Then try popping with the kite low and hooked in. By the time you do try a grab unhooked, it should be second nature.
The key difference doing grabs unhooked is to go fast and keep up with the bar in the air. You need to keep your arms close. Try a couple kite low, back hand grabs while hooked in. It feels surprisingly close to the unhooked variation and it will save you a lot of agony learning grabs.
Throw the back roll after you release your edge
Step Four - Mistakes
Like the raley video, most of the same mistakes apply. When people are intimidated by the power of the kite, they tend to let their arms out, bend at the hips like a hinge and come off their edge early or just have a soft edge in general. Remember, treat your body as a unit. Keep your arms in close like you never unhooked. Keep a hard edge, lean back, and keep your hips and chest facing the sky while you load.
The other big mistake here is the late release. Sometimes people get ahead of themselves and want to roll too early. They start the rotation while they are still scooping. Make sure you pop hard and release your edge before you start the roll. It helps to pop hard and swing your hips after you release.
You can try the late release while learning to get comfortable, but try to go bigger on this one. If you get in the habit of rolling with your back close to the water, it's going to hold you back later on some basic variations like the Back-to-Blind. Get in the habit of going as big as possible now. It will pay off in droves when you want to take it to blind.
Another common mistake is sending the kite to noon while you roll. It's easy to pull on your back hand while rotating around. If you do this, the kite will pull you up and drop you. To fix this issue, keep your hands close to the center of the bar. As you pop, pull hard on your front hand. You can even take your back hand off while rolling to ensure that you don't send the kite.
So that's it! Get out there and give it a try.
If you have any questions, feel free to look me up on instagram, add me and I’ll answer any questions you might have.
Kiteboarding equipment used for this playlist
The past 5 years I've changed my setup every season. These are my top choice kites and kiteboards. If you're interested in unhooked riding, these are my personal recommendations. If you have any gear questions, you can always instagram me with questions.
My 2020 gear picks for this list are the Slingshot RPM. My quiver consists of a 10, 12, and 14m, and the Slingshot Refraction 147.
Liquid Force NV V9
Duotone Team Series
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. A few years into a postal career, he decided to change everything and travel as a kiteboarder, freelance videographer & writer. His mission is to help people and share the stoke. Get out there and kite!
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays