GSCC now have eight new coaches after Iain Cameron, Pete Keel, Pete Everitt, Ian miller, Kiri Spinks, Laura Offler, Peter Heywood and Martin Heywood successfully completed their Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport.
This weekend was the second and final weekend of the course where we had to do our deep water rescues, and the weather forecast was not good! It was very cold and windy on Saturday morning as we arrived at Kingston Kayak club (KKC) in Hull, where the course was being run. We settled down with a mug of tea in their clubroom hoping for a full day in the classroom, but no! “I want you all on the water for 10:00” said senior instructor Scott Bradley. Lovely! KKC are fortunate in that as well as a clubhouse they have their own outdoor pool for their exclusive use, and this was the scene for our assessed sessions and rescues. We stayed in the same three groups as the first weekend, with one instructor assessing six or seven students. Each of us in turn had to coach a particular stroke to the rest of the group based on a prepared a session plan that we had written earlier as part of our homework from the first weekend. Each session was to last 15 minutes, with a debrief immediately afterwards while still on the water.
Once these were completed, we got out the boats to do our throw line work, where we had to successfully complete a 10m packed throw and a 10m unpacked throw. As with all the rescues, we HAD to pass these elements of the course or we would fail the whole course. Although you could have another go if you fell short, it was expected that we pretty well made the 10m with the first throw.
It was during the throwing work that the cold really started to penetrate, so as soon as we had passed we had a much needed tea break out the cold wind, while we discussed the dreaded deep water rescues where we had to get wet. The three groups were reformed into two groups, with one group in kayaks and the second in canoe. We paired up (I was with Iain in the kayak group) and got on the water. First of all we had to tow our partner half the length of the pool demonstrating a good quick release. Then we had to perform a deep water rescue of a capsized kayaker. It wasn’t until our partner had capsized that the instructor told the rescuer whether it was to be a bow rescue or a paddle rescue. I went first and it was cold! We had to paddle around to keep warm waiting for the other pairs to complete their rescues, then it we had to perform an “X” rescue on each other. The cold certainly ensures you don’t hang around, and all those rescue practices we have done in the pool and on the river we well worth it! They were certainly the two fastest “X” rescues I’ve ever done!
But it wasn’t over yet. Now we had to do the same in canoe. At this point the instructors were seriously concerned about hypothermia, and in some cases a few laps jogging around the pool was required before being allowed to continue. Once we had completed our canoe rescues we could get changed and have a hot lunch. We were fortunate in being first to get wet, so we were first to get changed. Some were on the water long after we had got off. It was 2:00pm before everyone was warming up back in the club house. After lunch we had a another debrief of our coaching sessions (including self evaluation which I hate doing) and then a multiple choice test! The final task of the day was to discuss in our original groups who was going to teach what for our final assessment on Sunday. For most people on the course it was time for home, but not GSCC; we went straight to Brigg to help out in the evening pool sessions!
On Sunday morning we all woke up to a covering of snow. We still had one assessed session each on the water, but unless someone was teaching capsize drill, we shouldn’t get wet!
After the sessions were over it was time for lunch and then another debrief and more paperwork. We then had to hand in our assessment portfolio and have a one-to-one debrief with our coach before going outside for one last time to watch a canoe demonstration by Neil (most people had identified a lack of canoe skills as a weakness when evaluating ourselves). We had all been told we had passed, though the BCU still have to ratify the pass grade, but we were told that should be a formality.
When we took our first practice coaching session on the first day of the first weekend, it really felt to me like I would never be able to do this. It didn’t help that you were coaching both friends you new well from your own club and people from other clubs who obviously were better paddlers than you! Then there were all the different styles of coaching that you could introduce in your session, and I struggled to know which was which: “What coaching model did you use, Martin?” asked Scott. “er, IDEAS?” I tentatively suggested. “well no, actually, it was more Guided discovery…” said Scott! But by the end of our third session, it really started to make sense, but now to transfer all this to our pool sessions, with senior coaches and mums and dads watching, well, that�s another matter!
Thanks to the coaches; Scott Bradley (East Midlands Regional Coaching Organiser), Neil Jennison and Janet (?), and to our hosts at the Kingston Kayak Club.