Learning how to shoulder roll is just like learning how to windmill with one significant difference. Shoulder rolls are performed without the help of your arms for stabilization. You're literally using your shoulders, back, head and neck to pull off a shoulder roll. Without the proper technique and balance, you could very well smash your face against the ground or hurt your neck. Don't attempt a shoulder roll unless you're comfortable with doing the windmill maneuver. If you're cranking out windmills like second nature, you can do a shoulder roll. It's all about balance and maintaining a decent momentum to continue to spin. Here's how to go about pulling off shoulder rolls.
- Just like windmills. You get into your shoulder rolls just like you would a windmill. To start out from the down position, get on all fours with your chest facing the ground and your knees to the floor. You're going to fold your arms into your torso and criss cross them. For windmills, you'd actually be raising your arms at some point, but for the shoulder rolls you're doing this to get your arms out of the way. Arch your back just a little.
- The lean. Choose the shoulder you want to lean into the mat. Lock your head and neck into place. You don't want to hurt yourself so keeping your neck and head locked is very important. Now roll down your shoulder and use you upper back to spin on. While doing this, twist your torso and elevate your lower body as far up as you can without going so far that all your weight is on your neck. Spread your legs for balancing purposes.
- For the initial roll. In order to gain enough momentum, it's okay to use your hands on that initial roll. But once you start spinning you need to tuck your arms away again. If not, you'll just be doing a windmill. The shoulder roll is a windmill without the use of your arms and hands to stabilize. Once your momentum begins to slow down, you can push off with your arms again, but you won't be considered to be doing a shoulder roll until you tuck those arms away.
- Practice. You'll probably notice that without your arms to help support the weight that you'll spin a lot of time spinning on your back. You'll have to get used to adding extra weight on your upper back and neck without the added support of your arms. Needless to say, you need to have some pretty strong neck and back muscles to pull the shoulder roll off. Practice with the windmill until it becomes very easy to do. Then you can move on to the shoulder rolls. Once again, make sure you keep your neck locked into position because you can hurt yourself if you put too much weight on that area without the proper support.