As anyone who has looked at the Level 2 Coach training course will know, the emphasis there is on progressive coaching; ie taking participants’ learning from one session and building on this in the next. Progressive coaching and coaching progressions are at the heart of how we build learners’ skills, moving them from first forays onto the water to becoming competent paddlers and these progressions are firmly embedded in the Paddlepower and Star Award syllabi.
We highlight this throughout our coach education programmes where the Paddlepower Coaches Handbook sets out the various steps in these progressions as appropriate to each of the awards’ levels. The same approach is however taken, albeit not always so obviously, within the Star Award scheme.
Taking moving sideways as an example. At 1 Star we are looking for ‘simple draws’ to manoeuvre away from and return to the bank; in this context a draw towards the paddle with the blade lifted from the water before the next stroke is all that is required. Once the paddler is working towards 2 Star we begin to focus on efficiency and control with the assessment standard being to achieve this over ‘5m without excessive swing’ and with the active blade remaining ‘submerged throughout the stroke’. By the time our paddlers are ready for a 3 Star assessment they will be demonstrating a variety of techniques, including sculling draws, draws (and for canoe, prys) on the move with the emphasis on vertical paddle shafts and blades deep in the water.
Similar progressions can be seen for other skills such as turning techniques. At 1 Star turning to left and right can be achieved simply through a combination of sweep and forward strokes. At 2 Star, training should cover a variety of strokes including (for kayak) sweeps and bow/stern rudders and (for canoe) sweeps, Js, outside pivots and C-strokes with an emphasis on trim, strategies for controlling the speed of the turn and, importantly, the concept of ‘looking for future water’. All of these techniques are then expected to be performed on the move with good edge control for 3 Star candidates.
For Level 2 Coach trainees putting together their six progressive coaching sessions the Paddlepower and Star Award schemes are a goldmine when looking for ideas to put into development plans as well as for benchmarks to monitor progress. The awards syllabi, training and assessment notes may not be the most exciting of reads, but are a key resource for planning effective sessions.