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Top tips for paddlers looking at British Canoeing progression/coaching awards

BC Coaching Awards

I have had a large number of members asking for clarification and advice about the different routes to British Canoeing progression/coaching awards, so I have attempted to simplify / explain the awards below:

If you would like to progress and pass on some kayak skills to others, you will need to be at a competent skill level yourself and you’ll also need to decide where and who you would coach. There are different advised pathways: those who are happy teaching on safe sheltered lakes, canals or pool to those who are capable in tidal and moving water conditions.

Level 1 coach – now paddle sports instructor +leader  (note there are different levels of this award as bolt on awards can increase the remit) The basic level one is an assistant coach who works with close contact supervision from a higher qualified coach operating in sheltered water (lakes & canals), Very good for the River Chelmer & Stour.

To progress from this and work away from the lead coach the level 1 needs to have their own Outdoor first aid certificate and now a Safeguarding and protecting children certificate, they also need to be signed off by a coach to work independently. Maldon Canoe Club luckily has a number of these who are very good.

Level 1 coaches could further extend their remit by adding leadership awards 4 star (moderate) & 5 star (Advanced water) leadership in sea. White water and or open canoe.

Level 2 – is a sheltered water coach, working on canals and lakes, which also has numerous possibility’s to increase remit by adding bolt-ons 4&5 star and coach increases remit to a higher grade of water. They may when experienced enough be able to provide FSRT courses (Foundation safety and rescue course).

Level 3 coach – (old style) has been assessed in grade 2-3+ white water or sea conditions, there assessments included the 4 star. They tend to be the older coaches and Essex has a number coaches who have a wealth of experience. Most of these coaches are normally lead club coaches. Again they can have bolt-on FSRT and become 3 star providers. Some have done upgraded to Level 4. Note: There is a new style level 3 which is academic based aimed at those managing centres.

Below is a more simplified version… a bit murky and confusing, so what is the advice to a prospective coach?

Step 1 – get your personal skill level up. If you would like to lead/coach on exciting water you will need a leader award  (4 or 5 star) the lesser kayak award is a good pre course  and can be done locally, but for leader award you will need to travel.

Step 2 – coaching core course which teaches you how to teach.

Ensure you have completed the prerequisite courses to allow you to attend training/assessment

(FSRT) Foundation safety and rescue course – can be delivered by Clive other trainers available

VHF Radio users course – I arranged a course which a club members attended  this year

White water safety & rescue – we know a man who can deliver these

Outdoor first aid – can be delivered by Clive other trainers available

Coastal navigation – often included in the sea training course

Leader training and assessment sea – Nick at kayak essentials other trainers available

Some clubs have used non qualified coaches who they deem to be competent while this is allowed they do have to be able to explain why they deem this person competent and prove they are competent to access. One good example of this is a member of the Polish Olympic slalom team who helps out at a local club in Essex. They should also have first aid and safeguard training, and have a recorded assessment conducted.

So what’s the best way to progress your canoe/kayak skills?

  1. Fastest way is to get tuition from a coach, either by one to one sessions or book onto a course, or paddle with them on the club trips.
  2. Attend pool sessions. This gives you the opportunity to try repeatedly the wet skills like rescues and rolling.
  3. Paddle events like the Anglesey symposium are very good and gives you the opportunity to paddle in good conditions with the country’s top coaches.
  4. Paddle different crafts – The skills from white water & open canoes will help on the sea.
  5. Have a go at competition Polo or Slalom. This can progress your skills or just try white water site at Lee Valley out, (we do have coaches who can take you there, just ask!)

Hope this helps for more advice ask a coach