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Starting from scratch

First of all, thank you for considering becoming a coach or leader within paddlesport. These are vitally important roles which are rewarding for you and for paddlers. With clubs and centres always looking for new people to join their existing teams, you’ll find there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved.


Before you seek formal training or qualifications we always recommend you get a taste for what the roles involve. This way you can decide which role is right for you. The best way to do this is by contacting a club or centre local to you and introducing yourself to them.

Coaching or Leading: what’s the difference?

  • Coaches develop an individual paddler’s skills over one or more sessions
  • Leaders take responsibility for a group of paddlers as they complete a specific journey or activity

Get qualified as a coach

If you want to get qualified as a coach, British Canoeing offers four levels of paddlesport coaching qualifications. We also offer a number of endorsements and modules covering different water conditions and specific groups of paddlers.

The entry qualification Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport will qualify you to coach in a range of single blade and double blade craft, and can be taken as a bank-based or a boat-based option. Once completed, coaches are qualified to actively support more senior qualified coaches in the delivery of a pre-prepared session. With site specific training Level 1 coaches can also run sessions independently.

Get qualified as a leader

Leadership training is embedded into the 4 Star and 5 Star Awards. As well as developing advanced personal skills, these awards provide basic leadership training in the moderate or advanced water environment respectively.

For aspiring leaders aged 13-16 we also offer a Cadet Leader Award, which encourages and introduces young people into leadership roles through a training programme based at the club, centre or the organisation where they paddle.