Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reflections on the GLSKS "one coach track"

At this year's Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium, we had the opportunity to work with students who signed up for the "one-coach track." This meant each of us worked with five students for the entire weekend, rather than being assigned to teach a series of two-hour skills sessions with an ever-changing group of participants who signed up for each of those courses.

We chose the one-coach track because we were interested in working on a progression -- one of our responsibilities as BCU Coach 2 trainees. But we did so with some regrets because it meant we wouldn't have the opportunity to work with other coaches and participants at the symposium. We'd be off on our own little learning island.

It turned out to be a terrific opportunity. We began by discussing their goals and then videotaping each of the 10 participants performing a set of two-star skills: efficient forward paddling, moving sideways, maneuvering in a small space, and performing a low brace.

Some of the participants in our one-coach track watching their videotaped performance as Alec offers observations.
Over the course of the next two and a half days, we were able to help them improve those skills. We began with the fundamentals: posture, connectivity, power transfer and feel. We then applied those and other concepts to everything from the forward stroke and edged turns to bracing and rescues. Our standard for everything was "safe, effective, efficient," enabling them to understand why particular approaches make the most sense and to choose what works best for them.

Thanks to the weather, the course culminated in taking those skills into bumpy water for a real-world application. Finally, we videotaped again, allowing our students to see how much they had progressed. It was a rewarding weekend for all of us.

One-coach participants testing their skills in bumpy water. 
The one-coach track allowed us the freedom to work on skills without feeling the two-hour clock ticking, to establish a well-paced progression, and to provide varied practice over two and a half days. In the end, if was a more optimal learning experience for them, and a more satisfying coaching experience for us. 

The 10 participants and two coaches from this year's one-coach track.

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