As we move through the boating seasons the environment provides some varied challenges for us, as coaches, and for our students. During the colder months, we are often limited by short, dark days, and sometimes, the unbearable cold! As coaches, we often need to alter our day out on the water depending on the weather and the bitter cold it can sometimes bring. Our ability to have something up our sleeves that we can coach when it gets cold, or when our group want to cut their losses and head to a warm steamy café. We need to have some other methods to turn to so our group can benefit from our coaching, even in the comfort of a café or pub…
We all know that if we are not warm and comfortable the ability to take in information drops right off. So our students may be spending lots of time on the water, but their ability to absorb our coaching will be almost non-existent. This can leave our students, after a session on the water, cold and dispirited from not having improved from their time on the water.
For students who are new to the sport, the colder months are a tough time to learn, and only the really enthusiastic keep going. For our newcomers, it’s perhaps not just the boating element that is new to them. The outdoor environment will possibly be new too and can affect them massively if they are not used to it. Their kit will most probably not be as good as yours, as paddling is an expensive sport. The list goes on, younger paddlers to feel the cold even more acutely. As coaches, we need to be aware of how effective our coaching session is. Here are a few ideas to help you adapt your sessions so that they will help your students continue to develop, but without the traditional on the water sessions, in really cold conditions
The use of video as a learning tool has been popular for years now, video cameras are now waterproof and at a reasonable price. The use of the video is ideal for showing paddlers exactly what movements they are doing, as students sometimes think that they’re doing a movement correctly when they are not. During the colder months, if you’ve got a group who want a session but don’t want a full day. Spend a morning at a site capturing video footage of them doing a set skill, capture lots of footage, and even film yourself and use your boating style as a model. This way you can compare your boating against theirs. Take the footage and a laptop to a corner in a pub or anywhere that provides good hot chocolate and review your morning’s work together. By using the footage you can review and get them to understand their movements. The learning continues you see, only now in the warm!
Core Stability Boating
This is great with kids and the BCU offer modules in this. If you’re into your Pilates and using a gym ball then why not combined them with some boating movements. A little imagination is required for this, but it is good fun as you often fall over lots. Get your students to sit on a gym ball with their legs out in front and do a sweep stroke. Get them to sit on their ‘edge’ on a gym ball and alter their posture. If they know a rapid well get them to imagine it and then make specific moves down the rapid while seated on the gym ball. This works well with club sessions.
Practical Dry Land Sessions
For open canoeists and whitewater paddlers, bank based skills are endless. ‘Throw-bag Olympics’ is a great warm up for paddling and can be as intense or as light-hearted as you like. Create hoops to throw into, or dangle bags from trees to hit. If it’s sea paddling your teaching then get the charts out and have a look at working tides and the technical aspect of sea paddling. If you’ve got an advanced group as peers get a wipe board out and discuss leadership strategies and spread your equipment out and go through appropriate gear.
There are endless amounts of coaching sessions that you can run that don’t require you and your students to be on the water for the whole day. It all depends how creative you want to be. If you’ve got some students that you see on a regular basis, why not sit them down and come up with a development plan? It’s important as coaches to be able to adapt to our student groups and the environment that we put them in. Sometimes we have to throw in the towel to Mother Nature on our original plan and opt for a dry-land Plan B.