Instructor, leader, coach? I’m often asked what these names mean in the world of paddlesport, particularly by those who remember the ‘old days’ when to do any of these things you had to be a coach.
Certainly British Canoeing’s ‘old’ qualifications had their advantages, but they were time consuming, expensive and for many paddlers very difficult to attain. For me, the focus that has been bought in recent years to identifying the skills and experience required for different roles and creating new qualifications to match has been an extremely positive move.
Another significant step in this process is British Canoeing’s announcement of the new Paddlesport Instructor award which will be available from next January.
For those wanting to work in the outdoor industry or help out at their club but having little or no experience then the new instructor award will be a great starting point. The new award will provide basic knowledge and skills for working in very sheltered water conditions that can then be developed through further experience and in-house/club training. That the combined training and assessment course is only two days (or three to include safety training), will be assessed working from only one of kayak, open canoe, sit-on-top or SUP, and accessible to anyone aged 14 or over are real bonuses.
For more experienced paddlers then British Canoeing’s Paddlesport Leader qualification or a coach award may be a more appropriate entry point and holding either of these awards – or even evidence of training and a commitment to complete one of them – will look good on any paddling CV.
The announcement of the new instructor qualification is significant in another important respect as well. There will be no need to hold a Star or Paddlepower personal skills award as a pre-requisite meaning the link between personal skills and the range of instruction, coaching and leadership awards has finally been broken. That’s not to say there is no need for training to bring a paddler’s personal skills up to the required standard, but there will no longer be the need to undergo a separate assessment with the time and costs associated with this
We now have clear pathways for all, all without Star/Paddlepower pre-requisites, and all based on working from the craft of the paddler’s choice. A basic instructor qualification for those with little or no experience or involved only in running introductory sessions and separate coaching and leadership pathways for those who are already have a reasonable level of skills and experience and want to gain a higher level qualification. What’s not to like?