If you have read our other Parkour guides, you should be well versed in a variety of movements both simple and complex. You should understand basic vaults, blocking, rotation, and how to protect yourself when you bail.
Today we are going to discuss one of the most fundamental techniques in the game: rolling.
Rolling is one of the skills you need to master. There is no way around that. Unless you quit Parkour after a couple of days, you will need to roll. It is just not possible to be a good traceur without this vital skill.
It will save you from broken bones and broken dreams.
The first thing you need to understand is that rolling is not a flashy move. Yes, there are times when you might roll for flair, but these are few and far between.
Why Do We Roll?
The main reason we roll is to change our momentum. Whether you mistime your vault or trip during a run, rolling will save you when you launch yourself in the wrong direction.
We roll to protect our knees, bones, and other sensitive areas from absorbing the brunt of an impact. With a properly executed roll, you can walk away from disastrous mistakes without a scratch.
If you are going to get anywhere in this game, you need to master this skill.
How to Master the Roll (Beginner)
1. Start on Something SoftIf you have zero experience with rolls, this is where you will start. Rolling is more difficult than you think. When you first try a roll, you are going to notice that your shoulders, hips, and back take a bit of an impact. You will get used to this over time.
This is why you should start training on a soft surface, like grass. Practicing the movement here will allow you to master the technique without the risk of injury.
2. Don't do a Gymnastics RollThis means do not roll straight—directly over your head and spine. Gymnasts do this because they are training in padded environments, but your back will not be able to take it on a hard surface.
You will be rolling over your shoulder, across your spine in a diagonal direction, and out of your opposite hip. This allows you to absorb the impact on areas of your body that can take it more easily.
But don't do a barrel roll, either. Rolling at an angle too steep is just as bad as no angle at all.
Here are some examples:
3. Use Your Arm to Create Diagonal RotationThese pros use their arms to swing their momentum across the body before making contact. This is the first stage of your roll. Mastering this stage will keep your body in the correct position, and keep your momentum going in the right direction.
4. Keep Your Body CurvedMany amateur traceurs make the mistake of keeping their legs straight during their roll. This will kill your forward momentum. Your entire body needs to be in an arc. Think of yourself like a ball rolling on the ground. Every part of your body needs to be tight so you can continue the movement after your roll.
Here is the incorrect technique:
5. Start Your Roll on the Back of Your ShoulderMany traceurs hurt themselves when they start rolling because they start their roll on the top of their shoulder. However, the correct technique is to make contact with the back of your shoulder instead.
Here is what that looks like:
6. Start on the Balls of Your Feet
When you are learning this movement for the first time, start practicing in a squatting position. But don't place your knees on the ground. Always stay on the balls of your feet.
If you train yourself to roll from your knees, you will end up damaging them later on when you practice this move standing.
How to Master the Roll (Advanced)
After you master the roll from a squatting position, you are going to attempt it jumping off something. You should still do this on grass or a soft surface while training the movement.
It is best to start training this technique from a height of two feet, then four. Once you master the movement at these heights, you can try something a little higher.
7. Create Forward Momentum
When you jump off an object, you never want to move straight down. If you do fall straight down, rolling won't help you. You need forward momentum when you make contact.
To do this, make sure you are running off the object or jump forward as hard as you can. You want to be moving at an angle when you hit the ground.
8. Do Not Absorb the Impact
You want to recoil when you hit the ground. Do not try to absorb the impact with your legs, use your momentum to bounce forward and into your roll. Mastering this takes time, and you might want to practice recoiling forward without rolling the first few times.
Here is Jesse La Flair showing perfect technique:
Put Knowledge Into PracticeLearning to roll is one of the most important movements in Parkour. It is the best way to make efficient contact with the ground, and keep your body safe. Master this technique, and you will be well on your way to conquering the game.
Take it slow at first. There is no need to rush your training. Master the first stage, and then move on. Eventually, you will be rolling like a pro.