How to Do a Single Paradiddle in Tap Dancing

By Cindi Pearce ; Updated September 15, 2017

Crazy sounding names abound in tap dancing terminology. The paradiddle in tap dancing is often called "paddle and roll" or "the Hollywood roll." Dancers such as John Bubbles, who danced in vaudeville and was famous for his rhythmic dance creations, popularized it. The step can be executed in the single, double or triple version.

Heel dig your right foot (strike your heel against the floor).

Spank (back brush) your right foot.

Step down on the toe (ball) of your right foot.

Drop your right heel.

Learn the steps: Heel dig, spank, step, drop heel.

Remember that this is considered close floor work, meaning that there are a lot of intricate steps that are quickly executed and done close to the floor. The count is “1 and a.” The dancer will make four sounds (taps).


Another way to execute the paradiddle is to jump into the heel dig.

About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.