Meet James Train, who shares his journey from International Athlete to British Canoeing Level 3 Coach.
To begin with, this was at my local club and mainly involved introducing new people to paddling through Bell Boats and Open Canoes. To help broaden my coaching, I also assisted more experienced coaches at a recreational club that ran 6 week introductions to paddlesport for juniors. As somebody that was very much a competition paddler, this massively took me out of my comfort zone but was a great experience that allowed me to learn lots of new coaching skills and experience lots of different types of boats. During 2015, I began to do some coaching with athletes in the Olympic Development Programme, which led me to being employed by British Canoeing as a Canoe Technical Coach in November 2015. In the last year, I have been working through the British Canoeing Level 3 and passed my final assessment in September 2016.
My Level 3 Core training was run at Lee Valley and was a mix of competition and recreational paddlers. I always find it interesting to see the differences in coaching different disciplines of canoeing and the different challenges that coaches face so I was personally happy that there was a mix of coaches on my Level 3 Core Training. During the Level 3 Core Training, we really expanded on the British Canoeing Level 2 in relation to coaching styles, learning preferences and how to create tasks and environments where people can learn more effectively. For me, this was hugely beneficial as at the level I coach, any tool that can help facilitate better learning and affect change is like gold dust. The Discipline Specific Training was a really interesting course where we had time to unpick our technical knowledge and see whether we really did understand our technical templates but also reflected on how we could coach aspects of our technical templates more effectively. By doing this, I now have the confidence to coach through questions and reflection with my athletes and enjoy the challenge of creating an environment where athletes are confident to ask questions back and really develop their understanding.
There is definitely an aspect of unpicking your technical template within the British Canoeing Level 3 but for me, the main areas of impact have been on how I coach, understanding why I coach in certain ways and working out what I need to develop to make my coaching more effective. As a former international athlete, I have a good knowledge of areas such as technical and tactical and from other qualifications, also have good knowledge of strength and conditioning and planning principles. For me, the course did not hugely challenge my knowledge in these areas but I still believe that it was really useful to unpick different ideas and have the opportunity to clarify my beliefs in these areas. The British Canoeing Level 3 Course challenged me to unpick what I believe is important and has helped me to develop my own coaching philosophy. I believe that the British Canoeing Level 3 course has hugely improved my skills as a coach and has allowed me to be much more effective in how I impart my knowledge to athletes.