Running a Level 1 Coach Course at a Racing-based Club

There have been many comments about the new UKCC scheme from different areas of the paddling community, all with their particular angle on the developments, and all with their gripes and groans.

From our perspective, as a competition based club wanting to get volunteers qualified as coaches, there were three main stumbling blocks. Firstly, the cost of courses. It is entirely understandable that professional coach tutors, be they freelance, or employed by centres, would want to charge fees that enable them to make a living wage, but those course costs are generally beyond the means of clubs like ours, which rely on volunteers.

Secondly, the course content. So many of the advertised Level 1 courses that we investigated were run by people with very little understanding or experience of racing boats, be they flatwater or WWR. Indeed, there seemed to very few course providers with any sort of racing background. “Generic” often seemed to mean assorted closed-cockpit boats with a bit of tandem open canoe paddling thrown in. Turning up for a course with a K1 and being told by the provider, “You can’t do it in that,” did nothing to alter that perception.

Thirdly, the timings: many of the courses were held over four midweek days, or over a (very) long weekend: fine for those employed by centres, but not so good for volunteers with day jobs.

In the best spirit of “Let’s hold it right here in the barn!”, we decided to run a course ourselves, keeping the costs as low as possible, and ensuring that there was some racing boat element, and also to work toward gaining coach tutor status for one of our current coaches. We talked to Lara Tipper, and to John Handyside, who could not have been more supportive, and in summer 2009, we got together with Longridge CC to hold a course, run by John with myself and Ollie Harding as temporary tutors.

Days 1 and 2 were held on Saturdays at Banbury and Longridge respectively. All of the water-based work on the first day was done in shorter kayaks – an assortment of playboats, creek boats, general purpose boats, wavehoppers, surf boats and slalom boats graced the Oxford Canal with their presence. John did an excellent job throughout the day of working through each generic element and then applying it to racing and touring clubs: this provoked some lengthy discussions.

The coaching sessions at Longridge on Day 2 saw a mixture of closed cockpit and open cockpit kayak work, which provided an interesting contrast, through it has to be said that the water-borne craft which made the biggest impression on the younger aspirant coaches from Banbury was the giant zorbing ball. It was decided to recommend to the club committee that one be bought for Banbury – purely in the interests of increasing core stability of course…

There was a choice of locations for days 3 and 4, giving people more flexibility. All of the coaching sessions on day 3 at Banbury were carried out with paddlers in open cockpit kayaks. Most of the sessions and games were generic – moving sideways, turning, forward paddling, stability – but some were more discipline specific – wash hanging, overtaking, starts. All of the sessions on Day 4 were based around open canoes, with both tandem and solo skills being taught. Once again, most of the skills were generic, though one session looked at adaptation of skills to high kneeling canoe.

The Safety and Rescue assessment was preceded by an excellent and invaluable practical session where John showed a range of rescue techniques specific to use with composite boats, including some novel approaches which I shall be experimenting with over the next few weeks. To my mind, this sort of session should be included in every Foundation Safety and Rescue course.

All of the stumbling blocks have been overcome: costs have been kept to a minimum, the days have been accessible to volunteers and the course provider had a deep all-round knowledge of paddlesport. Longridge and Banbury now have groups of eager new coaches, and Ollie and I are on the way toward being qualified course tutors. Result! Thanks, John.

Canoe England Coach Education Programme
Canoe England have initiated a programme specifically aimed at competition clubs, paddlers and helpers who wish to become coaches.
Courses are available to individuals or groups of individuals where the course provider is appointed by and paid for centrally by Canoe England.
Courses can be run at your own club if the numbers make it viable, or a club can serve as a central location with members from several clubs attending. BCU (UKCC) Level 1 and level 2 courses are provided for within this scheme, the details of which are on the Canoe England Coaching pages on the web.

The cost of these courses is £150.00 including registration and is open to any Canoe England member at this rate. Courses must have a minimum of 6 people attending and a maximum of 12. For existing Level 1 or 2 coaches who wish to further their knowledge relating to the racing disciplines, then the ‘Racing Module’ is available, again organised centrally for a cost of £50.00 including the registration fee. Details for this are also on the Canoe England Coaching pages.

If you are interested and wish for further details on how to register,or provide the facilities for a course then please contact: Karen Bagshaw , or John Handyside : 0845 3709502; 0790 5002530 if you wish to discuss and talk it through some more.

Existing Course dates where there are spaces available or on will be published on the website
John Handyside
National Competition Development Coach

Coach Development Sessions at Clubs
Over this winter we are repeating the offer of the opportunity to have sessions for Coaches at your club on topics that will assist them in their development as Coaches, gaining more knowledge or re-enforcing existing knowledge.

These sessions can be tailored to suit the need and can be on various flat water racing related topics. To a large degree the choice is yours but this can be discussed.

Last year there were sessions on:

The Coaching Scheme and the pathways for Coaches through it
Forward Paddling for Kayak
Forward Paddling for Canoe
Transition from DW Training to Sprint Training
Training issues for Junior Paddlers

The sessions will be attended by myself and another coach, last year Alex Nikonorov from GB Canoeing co-presented with me and has indicated his interest to repeat this when he is in the country and available. Depending on the particular topic an appropriate coach will be selected for this.

Generally the Club visits would be evening sessions, although daytime weekend sessions could be accommodated in some cases, If clubs wish to join together to make the numbers more viable, then this is also possible

Venues need to be able to meets basic standards in terms of Presentations, i.e Electricity, heat, seating area. All the equipment for presentations will be brought along. Tea and coffee facilities would be a very nice bonus.

The sessions tend to be land based, although in the right surroundings and reasonable wearer, outdoor practical sessions could be considered

We are looking to promote Canoe Paddling more, so access to a range of boats for this could be advantageous

Please get back to me with more questions, dates that you are interested in etc etc

Midweek in November is currently quite good as are the first couple of weeks in December

After this there is availability from mid January onwards through to the end of March

John Handyside
National Competition Development Coach

T: 0845 370 9502
Mob: 0790 500 2530
Fax: 0845 370 9501

New Racing Coach Modules
Details of the new modules to be completed by those seeking racing coaching qualifications can be downloaded here, with a timetable of courses here
Enquiries to John Handyside

Paddle Specifications
A guide to choosing an appropriate paddle for racing – click here to download

Winter Training – Make It Count by Ian Wynne
Ian Wynne, 2004 Olympic Bronze Medallist and now national senior mens’ coach, wrote this article on getting the most out of your winter training. It reminds you that being an elite athlete is a commitment that needs to be maintained in all areas of your life.

Coaching experience with International and Potential Athletes
Opportunities for Coaches to improve their Coaching Skills and experience working with National Team Coaches and Paddlers are available to those interested.
Existing Trainee Coaches who have commenced their Racing Coach Level 3 and who need to complete that section of their Award are more than welcome to apply to attend squad training days.
The dates for these can be found in the “Athlete Development” area of the Internationals section of this site.
Applications to attend will go through John Handyside in the first instance

Canoe England Coaching Qualifications
Details of Canoe England coaching courses can be found here