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Providing consolidation in the journey to Coach Assessment

Oh how I wish I had taken a video of the three men in a boat at the beginning of the day and again at the end.


The second East Midlands Coach Development Weekend was held at Pierrepont over the weekend of the European Open. There was Freestyle at one end of the course, Wild Water racing at the other and huge numbers of sprinters on the regatta lake. Squeezed between the three where a group of aspirant coaching enjoying the disco music and vibe but focused on their development as coaches.

The format was quite simple, we had invited improver paddlers, aspirant coaches and coach educators/mentors to sign up for some or all of the weekend. Then provided an open learning environment for the aspirant coaches to profile and deliver sessions to the improvers with support and feedback from the coaching team.

The gap between the Core Coach and Discipline Specific training and presenting for an assessment can seem quite large and lonely. Coming away from the training thinking about consolidating the learning and getting lots of practice at running coaching sessions sounds fine but opportunities and support are sometimes hard to find. The RDT hope that these Development Weekends provide some of that support and make the journey less lonely.

As one of the aspirant coaches said, it is like a supportive mock Coach Assessment with developmental feedback. In total 14 sessions were delivered over the two days. All of the aspirant coaches were very positive about the experience and the learning they were taking from the sessions along with the exchange of ideas and feedback with the rest of the group. They all left with a clear plan of their progress to assessment.

Just wanted to say thank you for all involved in the weekend. Having recently come back to kayaking after a break of 28 years I got loads from coaching sessions over the weekend. If anyone was thinking about improving their paddling this is a great way to get some coaching. The weekend was relaxed and informal and was all geared towards achieving the improvements we wanted as paddlers.

– Posted on FaceBook by one of the improver paddlers

Back to those three men in a boat. When you ask for improver paddlers to volunteer, you hope they come with some idea of what they want to work on – an aim for their session. We got that, with a trio of men in an open boat about to head over to Dublin to compete (take part) in the Liffey Descent for the second time. Their aim – not to be the last boat in the class. They had two sessions on Sunday and the improvement in the boat glide, timing, forward stroke and technical understanding by the end of the second session was amazing. It was a great example of agreeing aims, profiling, observation and analysis and decision making. The aspirant coaches drew on the experience of the mentors to develop coaching plans and wrought changes. I’m almost ready to put money on them winning the class!

The RDT will be looking at dates for two further Development Weekends for 2020.