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Paddlesport Activity Assistant Case Study: Norwich Eagle Canoe Club

Following the launch of the Paddlesport Activity Assistant (PAA), an endorsement recognised by British Canoeing to support club and organisation volunteers, read our case study from Norwich Eagle Canoe Club.

The club adopted the PAA programme for several reasons -

  1. The club is fortunate to have over 20 qualified coaches but we do run a very full programme with activities on most week nights and club trips most weekends during the summer. This can stretch our qualified resource. As such, we have always used more experienced paddlers as an extra pair of hands on sessions and trips. The PAA endorsement formalised this role and gave those experienced paddlers a role. 
  2. The PAA programme can be tailored to meet the clubs requirements as it is specific to each club or organisation. 
  3. The club retains many of it's members and a lot of the members now have 3 Star, in both canoe and kayak, with many going onto FSRT, WWSR, Moderate Water Leader, etc, but do not necessarily wish to follow the coaching route. Many of these members had stopped attending general club nights but by becoming PAAs they now have a reason to attend each week to help out and also assist on trips.

The Paddlesport Assistants...

The role the club has given to the PAAs is as an assistant to qualified coaches. They help out on weekly skill based sessions as another experienced person on the water. This is an extra pair of eyes to help the less experienced paddlers correct their paddling, as well as providing more safety cover. It also allows the lead coach to split the session for short periods where some members need more time to practice, while others need the next “challenge”. The PAAs are aware of the session plan and its objectives and work under the guidance of the lead coach. The PAAs also help out in a supporting role on day and weekend trips on flat water. 

The PAAs are seen as part of the “coaching team” and are included in the coaches email circulation group, are invited to attend coaches meetings and be involved in coach development sessions.

The PAAs have benefited by having a new defined role…

which gives them a reason to attend activities which they personally have progressed beyond. They have found this rewarding to assist less experienced paddlers and have found the PAA role a new personal challenge which has given them more responsibility within the group.  

The training was relaxed but informative…

We ran a series of sessions for the PAAs which broke down the responsibilities of the role and signed these off on a weekly basis. Many of the PAAs had an awareness of group safety, rescues, and the clubs procedures but going through the training gave it context and gave the PAAs a greater insight into what the coaches do every week. 

The PAA has allowed us to run more sessions as instead of needing 2 coaches with some groups, we can now use 1 coach supported by a number of PAAs. It has also helped to increase our participation levels and helped us to retain our more experienced paddlers by giving them a role which they feel comfortable with. In the longer term, some may progress onto the clubs Coach Development Programme.

For further details about the Paddlesport Activity Assistant and how to get involved, please click here