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COVID-19 Update: Guidance for Paddlesport Coaches and Leaders

5 November 2020

Following the recent Coronavirus (Covid-19) government announcement regarding new lockdown measures, 1:1 coaching/personal training sessions can take place in a public outdoor space, so long as social distancing is maintained.

A thorough risk assessment for all activity and appropriate safety frameworks should be in place. Any coaching of under 18s and adults at risk on a 1:1 basis should be avoided. Coaches are reminded of the principles of British Canoeing’s safeguarding policy.

The new national restrictions come into force from 5 November to 2 December and apply to England only.

Full details can be found on the British Canoeing website.

Updated 18 September 2020


Further to the advice issued by British Canoeing on 12 May 2020 about a return to paddling and new guidance released by the government on 1 June, we can provide additional guidance for paddlesport coaches and leaders in England.

This confirms that from Monday 1st June, coaching, leadership and instruction within outdoor sports can increase their personal training ratio from 1:1 to 1:5 following the 2 metre social distancing guidelines.

You can meet with different groups in a single day as long as it is in gatherings of no more than 5 clients and you are maintaining social distancing.

This guidance will allow parents/guardians to accompany their children to coaching sessions carried out on a one to one basis or in a small group.

Recent government guidance has provided two exceptions to the 1:5 coaching ratio

In a club activity setting as coaching and leading comes under the exemption of organised sport/activity

In a Provider setting - for the coaches and leaders who are offering our qualifications and awards comes under the exemption of Education and Training

British Canoeing welcomes that restrictions are starting to be lifted and would like to thank all coaches, leaders and instructors for responding so responsibly during this lockdown period.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with documents issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published on the 1 June 2020 and updated on 17 July.

Sport England have also produced online guidance to support sport and physical activity called Return to Play

Our priority remains to protect the health of the paddlesport community to help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

We recommend to continue to follow the government and public health guidelines and to stay at home as much as possible. Anyone who is symptomatic or suspects they have been exposed to the virus must not take part and remain at home. 

 #stayalert #controlthevirus #savelives

This guidance relates only to coaches and leaders in England, as policy and guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is subject to the devolved governments and their respective national governing bodies.

Considerations for coaches and leaders

British Canoeing welcomes this development and has created this additional guidance to support British Canoeing Qualified Coaches and Leaders and encourages that members continue to check both the Government and British Canoeing websites on a regular basis for the latest information.

Qualified British Canoeing Coaches and Leaders have all undertaken specific training and a robust assessment and this provides confidence that qualified individuals have the appropriate experience, decision making skills and professional judgement to consider this guidance and take the appropriate measures to ensure the safety of paddlers. British Canoeing suggest that all qualified coaches, leaders and instructors should;

  • Complete a thorough risk assessment for all activity, taking into consideration the government guidelines and put in place appropriate measures to safeguard the paddler, coach or leader and members of the public
  • Consider the appropriate safety frameworks for the activity taking place, taking into account the capabilities of the individual paddler and the venue being used
  • Within the risk assessment consider and put in place appropriate measures for safeguarding children, adults at risk and lone working
  • Any coaching of under 18s and adults at risk on a 1:1 basis should be avoided. The relaxation of the government guidance on social gatherings now means that group coaching (up to 1:5) or individual coaching with parent/carer supervision can now take place. Coaches are reminded of the principles of British Canoeing’s safeguarding policy. 
  • Develop appropriate approaches to ensure that social distancing restrictions are followed as part of the coaching or instruction including within any pre briefings and post feedback sessions 
  • Continually consider and take action to minimise the risk of infection/transmission, such as avoiding passing any equipment to the paddler or helping lift their craft
  • Select venues and conditions where possible which are familiar to you and the paddler and to carry out continuous dynamic risk assessments
  • Carry and wear appropriate safety equipment for you and the paddler. This may include buoyancy aids, a throwline, and a means to call for help and keep these available at all times
  • Ensure a first aid kit is available and understand the changes in guidance during this COVID-19 period
  • Avoid lending or borrowing any equipment, all equipment used by the paddler should be their own
  • If parents or guardians from the same household are present during the session then social distancing restrictions must also be applied around them
  • Ensure communication well in advance with the paddler, to make them aware of the measures being put in place for the session, and guidelines they should follow, before, during and after the session

You should also enforce strong hygiene measures. This might be cleaning any equipment rigorously in line with wider guidance on hygiene, for example by using antibacterial spray and washing hands thoroughly before and after use.

Awards and qualifications

British Canoeing qualifications and awards are delivered across the globe and we recognise that lockdown measures and easing of restrictions are different in every country. Some learners and providers are starting to consider their development by attending/offering British Canoeing courses. 

More information is available in our Guidance on British Canoeing Qualifications and Awards