Whitewaterinstruction.com presents a lesson on dealing with rocks from Shane Benedict.
Rarely is there a line on your favorite creek which doesn't incorporate at least one ill placed rock. Dealing with rocks and not letting them affect your plan is an important skill to learn and become comfortable with. Here are a few shots from Frankenstein, a classic rock jumble which has caused millions of bad lines because of some ill placed rocks. Shane takes a moment to explain the importance of carrying your momentum up and over the rock and keeping your eye on the prize while Robin Betz demonstrates near perfect form.
Once you get comfortable getting over rocks without them throwing you off line, feel free to start using them to spice things up a little. Here's international superstar Yonton Mehler demonstrating a beautiful rock spin.
One important aspect to keep in mind is to keep your hips loose and always lean into rocks if you get pushed sideways against them. Frankenstein has some classic pin spots and the key to success in a rapid like this is to keep moving and never give the water a chance to load up on your boat when there's a rock blocking your escape on the other side.
The biggest thing in learning to deal with rocks is actually knowing what is going to happen when you and your boat interact with rocks. The only way you are going to learn is to mess around with them. Thats why boofing, sliding, spinning, and glancing off of lots of rocks on your normal run is going to make you a better paddler. Its that repetition of banging around in the rocks thats going to teach you how to deal with them.
Mefford is using a correction stroke here to account for the deflection the rock is delivering.
In a general sense I think of rocks as being another river feature like a wave, or a hole. The rock is going to try to deflect you just like a pillow, or diagonal wave.