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Level 4 Case Study: John Carmody

Meet John Carmody, the first coach from the United States to participate in the Level 4 Programme. 

My Grandfather wasn’t a formally educated man but I considered him very wise…

His barometer as to how the day had been was based on whether he had learned anything new. His influence has led me down many different pathways in my learning. A question posed by a good friend while travelling on the highway in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the US opened a new opportunity to learn. ‘Have you heard about the British Canoeing Level 4 programme?’ was the first step along my journey.

My coaching practice is as a sea kayak coach, my home base being the mid coast of Maine in the USA. My practice has allowed me to help folks maximise their abilities throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. I have also had the opportunity to meet many amazing people while paddling the areas of St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire. True to my quest for learning, my belief has always been that I can learn from each of my students while sharing some of my experiences from living on the sea most of my life. 

The very first task in the Bridging Module leading in to the program was to develop my coaching philosophy…

I know I’d been asked to do this previously but the task began the process of critical reflection. Developing a personal coaching philosophy is just that, personal. I’ll be honest, I looked at the task as just that, a task. Little did I realise, it was the foundation of the new journey I was about to begin. Critically reflecting on it then, and many times since, has served as a check against which I gauged my practice.

Much of what we do as coaches is make decisions and the decision making process certainly formed a large part of my learning…

We’ve all seen or experienced the ‘magical’ coaching session. Why was it so? I believe that having a better understanding of the decision making process allows me to critically reflect on my own decisions, as well as, the decisions of my students. As a result, my learning continues and I am gaining a better understanding of the art of coaching. 

The best part of the experience was the Community of Practice my cohort developed…

It took the first semester to realise that distance learning was challenging. The lack of direct contact with the lecturer and other members of the cohort was alien to us all. Mutual frustration was discovered while chatting during the winter residential in the first year, which resulted in developing a network of learning, using emails and Skype to support each others learning. This served to motivate us all and was key to my own motivation and learning.

The thing we always seem to forget is we coach people…

The Level 4 Programme served well to remind me of this. You can be a great technical coach but as Adventure Sports Coaches we coach people. I think I have a better understanding of people but I also look forward to learning more about this as I develop my coaching and learning moving forward. 

I am just starting my MSc project and am anxious to get some results…

As Adventure Sports Coaches we bring folks into the environment and help them learn from the experiences they have. How can we get our students to more efficiently take an experience and develop it in to knowledge to make decisions? I’m hoping to gain some insight in to the reflective practices of high-level sea kayak coaches and how they get their students to engage in the reflective practice.

Finally, I believe the knowledge I’ve gained from my journey through the Level 4 Program has brought new motivation to mine and my students’ to learning! 

Read John's Level 4 Research: "An exploration of Sea Leader Providers’ understanding and development of situational awareness and decision making during Sea Leader Training"