Competition Rules

Log rolling has been a competitive sport since the late 1800s and organized officially since 1926. The synthetic, portable Key Log® was invented in 2013 to provide a standardized log to allow for recreational and competitive growth of the sport. The yellow resistance equipment known as Key Log Training Fins has expanded how matches are conducted to include a wider range of abilities. USA Log Rolling™ sanctions tournaments, providing Rules and Regulations of the new equipment. These simple rules are easy to follow for participants, judges, and spectators.


A log rolling match consists of two people rolling on the same log at the same time with the objective of staying on longer than one’s opponent. The match is officiated by officials who determine the winner.

Types of Competition & Terms

  • A round robin is a format in which a roller competes against every other roller in their division. The roller who wins the most matches wins the tournament.
  • When there are six or more rollers in a round robin format, the tournament may be divided into more than one round robin pool. The tournament organizer should place the strongest rollers in different pools and alternate matches between each pool to allow for enough rest for the competitors.
  • The top two finishers from each pool will advance to the final round where another round robin or bracket will determine the order of finish. If two rollers are tied, then the winner of their head-to-head match is the winner. See also tie-breaking suggestions below.
  • A bracket in which once a competitor loses a match, she/he is eliminated and does not roll in any additional matches. The losers of the semifinal match will roll each other for 3rd and 4th.
  • A tournament that consists of the main bracket and a consolation bracket. After a competitor’s first loss, s/he moves into the consolation bracket. Depending upon the tournament format, competitors in the consolation bracket can either roll into the final match or only into the 3rd/4th place match. A competitor must lose twice in order to be eliminated from the tournament.

Match Starting Procedures

  • This is the traditional method for starting a match with experienced rollers. Competing rollers grasp a starting pole held by officials, step onto the log which is parallel to a pool deck or dock, and push themselves away a safe distance from the platform. 
  • The head official then instructs the rollers “ Ready, Steady the Log.”
  • When the head official believes the log is steady and both rollers have equal control of the log, s/he will say, “Throw your poles” and each roller must let go of their pole.
  • After the poles are released and the head official determines that the log is steady and both rollers have equal control of the log, s/he will blow a whistle or call “time in.”
  • This is the method for less experienced rollers, starting in the water.
  • For assisted starts, the log must be oriented perpendicular to the dock or pool edge for safety.
  • The log is held steady at each end while the competitors climb up and position themselves.
  • Once both competitors are steady, the official will say “Ready, Steady, Letting Go”, at which time the log will be released. The head official determines that the log is steady and both rollers have equal control of the log, s/he will blow a whistle or call “time in.”
  • The match begins and the time clock will start upon the call of “time in.”
  • If it is difficult to get a clean and fair start, the head official may, at his/her discretion, substitute “Ready, Steady, Letting Go” with “Ready, Steady, Time In” in order to start the match immediately upon release of the log. This is not the preferred method of starting a match.

Match Procedures

  • After each fall, rollers are allowed 30 seconds of rest once they both reach the starting platform.
  • After each fall, the loser may determine the side of log they’d like to roll on for the next fall.
  • The match continues until a fall occurs or the time limit expires. See below for time limit instructions.
  • If either roller falls before the match begins, s/he shall get back on the log immediately without leaving the vicinity of the starting dock.
  • If the judge determines that there was a quick fall after the whistle was blown, they may determine a “quick whistle” and restart the fall.
  • A contestant may lose a fall or be disqualified for purposely jumping in the water before the time is started or for unnecessarily delaying the match. A match will be decided by the best three out of five falls.
  • During a match, the head official should blow the whistle and stop time if the log comes within 3 feet of any pool edge, dock, or object that could obstruct the match or hurt the rollers. Upon hearing the whistle, rollers should carefully get off the log and get into the starting position to restart the match.
  • Log rolling matches will be described as either a Running Match with rollers facing in the same direction, or a Bucking Match with rollers facing in the opposite direction. This is determined by the dominant foot strength of individual rollers. In a running match, rollers must face the starting platform, so that the log will be more likely to roll away from the dock, and there will be fewer stoppages to keep the rollers a safe distance from the starting platform.
  • The first competitor to lose contact with the log with both feet and subsequently fall into the water loses the fall.
  • Jumping up into the air while falling off the log to prolong hitting the water, straddling, sitting, falling to both shins, and lying across the log are considered out of contact with both feet.
  • The competitor with the last foot contact on the log last wins the fall.
  • Inadvertent contact (at the discretion of the official) between two competitors on the log will result in the loss of a fall for the competitor who initiated the contact.
  • Deliberate contact results in the initiator being disqualified from the match.
  • A competitor will lose a fall if s/he steps on or across the center-line (neutral zone).
  • If a competitor purposely jumps in the water before time is started or delays the start of a match or fall, s/he will lose a fall.
  • A fall will be ruled a draw if the officials cannot see specific and noticeable differences in the fall.
  • Each judge shall make a decision after a moment of recall. No discussion of the fall will take place between the judges.
  • Each judge shall write down their determination on a post-it note (or in a pre-determined way, eg. coin, flag, or token) and hand it to the head judge.
  • If there is the slightest doubt in the mind of the judge, it should be ruled a draw.
  • The decision from the judges may be split, in which case the majority rules.
  • The Key Log matches begin with three Trainers. If there is a fall within 60 seconds, the match proceeds with three Trainers.
  • If the competitors roll continuously for 60 seconds without a fall, one Trainer is removed. The first Trainer to be removed will be the center Trainer.
  • Example: Competitors roll continuously for 60 seconds without a fall. The center Trainer is removed. The match continues with two Trainers, and Competitor #1 falls in after 30 seconds. The competitors reset and the second match is started with two Trainers. If during the second match they roll continuously for 60 seconds without a fall, one additional Trainer is removed. The match continues with one Trainer.
  • Summary: If at any point a match reaches 60 seconds without a fall, it is stopped and one Trainer is removed and the match proceeds (the existing score remains).
  • We recommend that tournament directors use an Ability Rating System in which each competitor will have a log rating based on their ability.
  • The Ability Rating System designates the number of Key Log Trainers and/or diameter size of Key Log used when rolling against someone of the same or better ability. The goal is to have competitors beginning their matches with the number of Trainers that match their ability, to prevent long, slow matches. Until the Key Log national rating system is established, competitors shall state their log rating at the beginning of a tournament and start accordingly
    • 0 Trainer rating: Can roll for 1 minute or more, with another roller, without the use of Key Log Yellow Trainers.
    • 1 Trainer rating: Can roll for 1 minute or more, with another roller, using one Key Log Yellow Trainers.
    • 2 Trainer rating: Can roll for 1 minute or more, with another roller, using two Key Log Yellow Trainers.
    • 3 Trainer rating: Can roll for 1 minute or more, with another roller, using three Key Log Yellow Trainers.

Officiating Resources 

Download and print the USALRO Rules & Regulations and officiator training guide.

USALRO Official Rules & Regulations
The official United States Aquatics Log Rolling Organization rules and regulations for log rolling competitions.
Updated August 1, 2019.
Training Officials for your Tournament
Procedures on training log rolling competition officials.