Even for coaches who have qualified as boat-based coaches the benefits of coaching from the bank can be significant. Being on the bank gives a different and very often better overview of your students’ performance and a better view of other water users and the overall environment, it can often also help with group management, encouraging your paddlers to keep within earshot. It certainly makes taking notes or shooting video easier.
As well as benefits, bank-based coaching does however bring its own challenges. As a coach you need to ensure appropriate safety cover whether that be by having a suitably experienced safety boater on the water, working with a peer group who can assist each other as necessary or simply having a throw line to hand and being prepared to go to assist yourself. Setting suitable boundaries should be a given and the use of buoys or gates, perhaps in the form of a Cross Stream Challenge course, can demark a clear paddling area.
With practice you’ll find that many aspects of what you are coaching can be demonstrated quite effectively from the bank but again having a ‘demonstrator’ on the water or using a reciprocal/peer coaching style may provide solutions. Having a paddle with you to demonstrate paddle placement or actions will be easier for you and more comprehensible for your paddlers than just using your arms!
When it comes to feedback from the bank, remember to time this for when the paddler is ready to receive your words of wisdom, usually this will be a few seconds after they’ve completed their performance and ideally when they’ve come to the bank. And don’t forget to sit or kneel to be as close as possible to their eye level when giving your feedback.
If you’re in the habit of coaching from a boat why not refresh your next session by working from the bank. You and your paddlers may find it quite liberating!