Level 1 Assessment Weekend
So the weekend of our (meaning club members Matt S, Nick G, Pauline and myself (Simon C. plus our new coaching buddies from other clubs in the area) had arrived. Now it’s time to see if the training from the first weekend and the practice in-between has paid off.
Well, I’ve thrown all my kit in the car, have prepared my coaching session for Saturday morning and am hitting the road towards Pershore. Unfortunately time is against me and rather than a relaxing drive, getting my head straight it’s more like the opening scene from Four Weddings & Funeral! I pull into the car park (9.32), into the centre and they have already made a start. I get a cheeky ‘we thought you weren’t coming!’ from Matt. I notice that numbers are down from the first weekend and Joe is looking for someone to switch groups to even things out. Given they will have to deliver a different session to the one they have prepared no one is keen, however Matt steps up to the mark and joins our Group.
No sooner is that sorted and Joe is getting us out of the classroom and onto the water. There might be some paperwork in this coaching lark, but it’s also very practical. We’re on the water and in our two groups. Nick is in the kayak group and Pauline, Matt and myself are in open boats along with Marathon man Andy from Devises Club.
Not only does Matt volunteer to swap sessions, he goes first and absolutely nails the first coaching session of the day! Fantastic! Except the bar has now been raised by about ten meters – how are the rest going to top that! We follow on and Joe congratulates us all – so far so good.
After a brief lunch break we were back on the water, this time in Kayaks with our other assessor (another Andy). His assessment of us so far is that we are all competent paddlers so rather than checking our skills any further he starts to stretch us, develop our paddling and ‘opening up’ the strokes. An hour later we are all in the water, literally, rescuing each other, back in canoes and more rescues. We finish off with a throw bag session (described as more of a throw bag ‘masterclass’ by coach Andy). The day is getting on, so we opt to defer the written test until the next day and sort out who is coaching what the next day. Having finished the day on a high, it’s then off home to shower, reflect and plan for tomorrow.
Sunday morning. It’s 8.32 (yep, late again, and if you are wondering Droitwich to Pershore in 10 minutes doesn’t work, it took me 12 due to a slow mini). Joe gives us a quick pub quiz to get us up to speed before we hit the multi guess paper. BBB, TTPP, C1, K4, SEL and RTFQ! and I thought you coached in English! Anyway multi choice down and passed and we’re all back out on the water. This time my group is in Kayaks. The sun is shining and we quickly notice our assessors are not intending to get in their boats – deck chairs on the bank are the order of the day! Well, our second sessions get under way and another four good coaching sessions delivered. Then it’s lunch followed by a games session and a canoe session with Joe to give us a few more ideas and develop our skills further. Back off the water, final discussions with coaches and happy faces as we all depart knowing we have made the grade.
So what have I taken away from my level 1 coaching session, apart from my qualification of course? Well for me the personal development has been massive. You can easily think you are doing this to help others, but having to teach makes you think about what you are doing and really improves your own skills. In addition I have been taught loads by both my fellow coaches, such as the mysteries of the reverse j becoming clear (thanks Andy) and to Joe whose enthusiasm to coach and improve your skills is tremendous. It helps to underline where I am in my paddling journey at the moment (or should I say LTPD?) and consolidate all that I have learnt over the last three years.
In addition, and I know my fellow coaches for the club will agree, it has given us a whole load of new coaching ideas for bring back to the club. I have deliberately left a lot of those details out, so you’ll have to come along to some club sessions to see those in action. All I will say is expect a tennis ball to become part of your kit and quiditch to be played on the river next year. Training with people outside the club has also brought different perspectives, which is great and hopefully we can stay in contact with the other participants. Andy, from Devises, was saying they do an annual club weekend trip each year which anyone is open to join. It’s an overnighter, don’t forget your sandwiches and you might need to organise your own car ferry home as well….
So, thanks to Joe and Andy our assessors for giving us such a great course, thanks to all my fellow coaches for providing so much fun and support and a big thank you to all the current club coaches who have obviously developed us so well that the assessment was a natural progression of what we were already doing.
Thanks to Simon C fro providing this.