One of the most frequently asked questions when starting your journey into the world of Parkour is “How do I Parkour roll?”. So let’s get into the basics.
Firstly I would recommend practising this on a soft area like sand, grass or if you’re lucky enough to have access to a parkour gym or a gymnastics centre then use that to your full advantage.
The 3 progressions of learning a Parkour roll
I’m going to break the roll down into a few steps which will show the progression from first learning it to using it in action:
- Step 1 – Starting from a crouch
- Step 2 – Squatting position
- Step 3 – Doing a roll from standing up, or light jump
After these, I will show you also how to do a Parkour roll on concrete.
Progression 1 – Starting from the bottom (crouch position)
Whenever I’m teaching a beginner-level Parkour athlete (Traceur if you’re a purist), I always say, “start from the bottom and work your way up”.
1. The first position
So for me, this would be with your left leg kneeling and your right foot on the floor (think superhero landing).
When kneeling, you should place your right arm on the inside of your right leg so your elbow is in line with your knee and with your hand grip the inside of your right heel.
2. The push
From that position, push off with your left leg and make sure you extend it to the point that you have enough momentum to push over and complete the roll.
3. The Parkour roll
Roll over your right shoulder whilst tilting your head in the opposite direction.
Continuing the roll diagonally across your back from the right shoulder to the left side of your hip, whilst keeping your hand on your right heel and voila! That is the first step to mastering the parkour roll.
The origin of this technique
This step is one that I picked up from Ryan and Anthony Doyle at Airborn Parkour Acadamy in Liverpool.
I find this technique helps the best with beginners and children as some have less core strength. So coming out of the roll without much momentum is more challenging for some people, but holding your foot allows your body to pull itself upright.
Progression 2 – Rolling from squatting position
Naturally, you may think, “I can’t keep my hand under my foot if I’m going to be landing on my feet first!” You’re WRONG! You can… But I would not recommend that as you will most likely break your fingers, so do not attempt doing so.
1. Squatting roll
That brings us to the next step… rolling from a squatting position. By squatting, I mean more like a frog squat than an athletic squat.
2. Hand position
Take everything you have learned from the first step and apply it to this, but this time place both your hands flat on the floor facing ten o’clock. This will stop you from overextending your wrists, and also, you will be less likely to do a gymnast roll (which is not good for concrete or breakfalls).
3. The Push
In this step, much like the first step, you should push off lightly but with both legs, rolling from your right arm across your back to the bottom left of your back.
4. Exiting the Parkour roll
On exiting the Parkour roll there is a few different ways to do so but the most common is to bend your left leg and bring your right leg over so you’re almost in that famous superhero landing pose for a split second before continuing your run.
Progression 3 – From an upright position
The next step after squatting into the Parkour roll is to go from an upright position into the Parkour roll. This could be from standing walking or a light jump from a flat and level surface.
I won’t go into a massive amount of detail on these steps as it’s pretty much explained in step 2, and I’m sure by now you’re itching to get out and try to learn the basic Parkour roll.
Standing Parkour roll
Follow all the steps you have learned so far but this time, rather than squatting first, try to stand upright and slightly lean forward before bending the knees and completing your roll.
You should notice the difference in momentum when completing your standing Parkour roll, as the lean will send your trajectory forward.
So when you’re coming out of the parkour roll, you will have more forward momentum, making coming out of the roll easier.
How to Parkour roll on concrete
Some quick notes that are important to learning to roll on concrete are that you need to avoid your shoulder and hip bones. Hitting these can really hurt!
Make sure that your roll starts on the muscle part of your shoulder and ends higher than your hip bone.
Why should I learn to do a Parkour roll?
Learning Parkour can be one of the best experiences but also really dangerous if not trained correctly, as athletes in the community know.
The Parkour roll, otherwise known as the safety roll, is one of the most essential things in Parkour. Without it, you are adding a massive amount of impact to bones, joints, and muscles. In fact, pretty much any part of your body in many circumstances.
Use cases in real-life scenarios
Not only will learning this technique help in your Parkour journey when taking impact, over rotating flips and even being tripped up by a friend and styling it out. It comes in handy as a reflex in many different sports or general life.
Imagine if you had fallen from a height or been flung across a distance, how handy it would be to learn how to break your fall and land safely.
Most people can’t even jump off a one-metre-high wall, never mind anything higher. Teaching yourself to land safely should be a priority.
Personal experience of 16 years practising
I couldn’t tell you the number of times I have used the Parkour roll in various parts of general life as it has been that many.
I went over the handlebars of my BMX and quickly went into a Parkour roll which probably saved my face from permanent damage. The sheer amount of times I have fallen off a skateboard and managed to save myself with a roll is ridiculous.
I hope this has given you enough information to safely start your journey into the ever-growing world of parkour, and if you have any other techniques or higher-level moves, then get in touch!
Also, before you head off to start training, take a look at our most iconic Parkour scenes in movies. You will definitely see some of the professional athletes and actors using the Parkour roll!