Meet Natalie Maderova who shares for journey from Skiing Instructor to Level 3 Sea Kayak Coach.
I grew up skiing and in our club, adults coached kids and older kids coached younger kids. I became a skiing instructor and later, a climbing instructor. I never aspired to become a full time coach and at that time never actually even thought about kayaking or coaching kayaking.
I started to kayak with my husband in 2009 and soon realised that this was an accessible way to progress and get coaching again. I completed my Level 1 and though that was enough. I soon wanted to reach more people and improve my effectiveness both as a paddler and a coach. I steadily completed my Level 2, 4 Star and MWE. I loved the sport and wanted to share sea kayaking with others.
I coach as a volunteer in my club and initially spent most club nights coaching or leading people, mostly through 2 Star skills. My personal paddling developed and I realised there was more to coaching individuals at different levels and in different environments. I am always driven to improve but began the Level 3 almost by accident. There was a Level 3 Core training available when I had holidays and no other plans. That was in February 2015.
The Core training was really useful as I work as a teacher in a special needs school so the differentiation and individualization, and profiling was something I do on daily basis. It was good to explore these principles from a paddling perspective. The discipline specific training was harder in the sense that I started to realise that my technical knowledge fell behind my personal skills. This was something I needed to develop or I would not be able to use student led approach and so became the main focus of my preparation.
At the start I struggled and almost gave up. At times I thought I could no longer coach at all. I knew I could get people to learn a skill but to do it in a way to promote long term development and self discovery, give solid foundations as well as improving my students’ skills through challenge, seemed unachievable for me. I had very disciplined students, supportive mentors, yet I knew I needed to do something else to change this situation. I went away and stayed on Skye observing Gordon Brown. I was able to see, think and process what I saw. This was great! It was a breakthrough to move my practice forward. Suddenly some of the obstacles weren’t obstacles at all, just learning steps.
I really enjoyed seeing how my students develop into learners and how I developed in my understanding in what was going on for each of them. I learnt to use the sea environment for inclusive practice and started to explore different concepts of sea kayaking, coaching and learning.
I observe more. I watch what people are doing, I ask them what they are doing and watch it again to see what effect it has on their body, boat, and blade. I now spend time paddling and exploring things for my self: What happens if I do this and why did this happen like that? It’s quite exciting. I think more about my own paddling and encourage people to think about their own paddling to make them realise what they are doing and why. I spend more time to find out what people want to achieve and why.
So although I am still a volunteer coach going to the odd symposium or festival, I think that the Level 3 was really useful to change how I approach coaching others. I strive for people to become independent paddlers and confident learners, who know what they want or need.
For further details of becoming a Level 3 Coach, please click here.