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Meet Hayley and Jo, NEW Stand Up Paddleboard Coaches…

For both of us, paddleboarding is not just about the sport, it’s a way of life. Jo’s passion for paddleboarding grew over the last few years and knowing Hayley’s love for the outdoors and passion for wellbeing, she introduced Hayley to the sport and the water quickly became the place she felt at her happiest. 

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Hayley and Jo recently set up Paddle Cabin and wanted to offer ways for everyone to experience the paddle boarding way of life through our three-pronged purpose around learning, wellbeing and community. From building skills and confidence on the water, feeling connected to nature and refreshed, to finding your tribe through our members and club events, there really is something for everyone.

We loved our coaching journeys with British Canoeing. When travel was allowed last year, we spent as much time as we could exploring Kent and its secret hidden SUP spots, paddling 350km of our local waterways. We loved introducing all our friends and family locally to the sport through teaching, coaching and exploring and loved how everyone wanted to a slice of the paddle boarding life. There is so much beauty on and in the water in Kent everywhere you paddle and we loved introducing locals to this beauty on their doorstep they had not yet discovered.  So we formally began our coaching journey in November 2020, taking the route of a SUP Sheltered Water Coach, which enables you to coach in up to Force 3 winds, up to 200m from shore.

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Becoming a coach rather than an instructor was really important to us, to be able to create and live by our own coaching philosophies and focus on helping individuals meet their own personal SUP goals. We loved learning all the theories, stages of learning, leadership and coaching styles. The first part was a two day Core Coach training for SUPs, kayaks and canoes. We then went into the winter lockdown and Jenna from Flying Gecko Outdoors went above and beyond to deliver additional virtual mentoring and training sessions with us weekly to help us get ready to pass our assessment as soon as covid allowed.

After the Core Coach training, we got out there over the winter, seeking out those rare but beautiful sunny days and getting on the water with as many winter paddlers as we could within covid restrictions! Part of your SUP Sheltered Water assessment is to submit a reflective log of 15-20 coaching sessions. This part was completely invaluable to practice and improve and learn. You also have to complete a written assessment on a case study, producing a training plan for a specific paddler and then undertaking a discussion with your assessor about both your log and training plan.

And then, it’s assessment day! This consists of a 90 minutes coaching session with your guinea pigs on the water in force 3 winds, and demonstrating your water safety skills in a number of scenarios around water rescues. There are some additional bits you need, such as safeguarding training and first aid qualifications. British Canoeing have a whole range of brilliant resources in their digital library from podcasts to videos to webinars. We found their eLearning modules so useful to brush up skills on so many different topics, from buoys, to paddle-ability, to nutrition and fitness and environmental protection of our waterways – so it is well worth a look.

We both have Jenna to thank for her encouragement and patience to go through the coaching qualifications so quickly thanks to her time and effort. Combined with our determination, we are really proud of where we have got to in our coaching journey in a short space of time, and we are loving coaching on the water and now being paid to do something we love! Coming into a male dominated industry, it was a real confidence boost working with her to build that self-belief and trust in your abilities. Creating a supportive environment that encourages more female paddlers into the sport is really important to us, and interestingly, our members are already 80% female so we seem to be creating that welcoming culture which is amazing! It is tough setting up a business from scratch, especially in a pandemic and this is when those cheerleaders really help you achieve your goals so thank you Jenna! 

What’s next…?

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The journey for the season is only just beginning and we are so excited to see how it unfolds. We want to be a key pillar of the paddle boarding community in Kent, working with all the other amazing SUP organisations in the county to introduce more people to the paddle boarding life and we are exploring some exciting ways to collaborate over the next year! We also aim to be a training provider to able to help aspiring coaches access training locally from our cabin to help grow the sport in Kent and to offer the Personal Performance Awards from our home.

Become a SUP Coach

Looking to start your journey as a SUP Sheltered Water Coach? The Coach Award is designed for people whose core function is to coach paddlers who want to gain/improve paddlesport skills within the discipline chosen. This will include coaching beginners new to the sport, or paddlers looking to develop their skills in the given discipline or environment. Find out more here –

 Paddle Cabin recently become a British Canoeing Delivery Partner. Read all about it here.