If you haven’t already done so, you should read Log Rolling 101. It is the precedent to this article, and teaches the basic posture and stance in log rolling. You must have the section nearly memorized, or at least fresh in your memory for this section to make sense.
Now that you’ve figured out how to stand and balance on the log, you’re probably wondering, “how in the heck do I control this thing?” The thought can be a little daunting: a 100 or 160 pound roller trying to control a 400 pound log in the water on top of their own weight. Remember the foot stance from the first tutorial? Probably not since I never gave the foot stance. Let me put it in very basic terms.
Think about a log floating in the water for a second. If you push directly down on top of the log what happens? The log will do nothing but bob in the water. Move your hand either back a little bit and push down. What happens? The log rolls backwards. Now move your hand to the front and push down. The log rolls to the front. It is this same basic, commonsensical (yet all too unknown or forgotten) logic that you will apply to your footwork. The foot closest to the center line is always on the back of the log a little, and the foot farthest from the center line is always on front of the log a little. With one foot always on the front and back of the log, controlling it is simple. Just don’t forget to keep your foot moving up and down (remember your basics from tutorial 1).
Check Your Heel or Slap the Log
I’ve told you where you feet should be while rolling, but I haven’t told you how exactly you control the log. Have you ever seen a Professional Men’s match where their outside (furthest from the center line) foot seemed to be slapping the log, throwing up water? This is done to slow the log while running. If the log starts going faster than the competitor can run, then can slow it down by slapping their forward foot (the one furthest from the center line) down on the front of the log. Of course, you don’t exactly have to slap your front foot down to slow the log down. All you simply need to do is move more of your weight to your front foot. This will act as a brake to slow the log down if you are running.
What about your backstep? How do you slow it down then? Checking your heel is probably the most important skill to learn in log rolling next to kicking the log (we’ll get to kicking the log later). Checking your heel is how you slow the log down while running on your back step (running backwards), and is almost the exact opposite of stopping the log while running. To stop or slow the log on your back step, bring your back foot (the one closest to the center line) to the back of the log and jab it in with each step. With each jab, the log will slow down. Just like slapping the log, you don’t exactly have to jab the log for it to slow down. You can simply place more weight on your back foot. But if you want the log to stop quickly, or need more force (like if an opponent is pulling you on your back step) you’ll need to jab, or “check” your heel.
Body posture is very important in controlling the log. If your body posture is incorrect, no amount of checking your heel or slapping the log will help you control the log. Keep your knees bent. Keep your arms and shoulders steady. Do not wave your arms around.
I will readily admit that simply reading through this section on Control is quite confusing unless you know exactly what I’m referring to. Probably the best way of thoroughly understanding this tutorial is to accompany it with some video of professional rolling
This is the second of a many part series designed to teach anyone and everyone how to log roll. The later examples will teach more advanced techniques, once an amateur roller has mastered controlling the log.