This area of the website is currently being developed and so may look a bit of a mess! The end product should be a reference point for new paddlers, experienced paddlers and coaches alike, with information about awards, coaching techniques and technical templates.

Coaching At Warwick University

Currently on a Monday 9pm - 10pm, we have the pool for structured coaching. This is used at all levels of ability, from foundation skills to advanced flat water to playboating. Often in the week before the session an email will be sent listing the skills that are going to be in focus that week, but this is only a rough guide, just come along with your own questions, problems or aims.

The standard of canoeing at Warwick is always getting better and as such we have more and more coaches on hand to help you out so never be afraid to ask questions on a more informal basis on a Wednesday night at the pool or in the street, coaches live and breath boating so always ask questions � there is never a silly question only a silly answer!

Coaching in action

The club has a strong history of organising 2 and 3 star courses and assessments for its members. Last year members on the Refreshers Trip had the chance to fit in a 2 star or 3 star course over the same weekend.

If you have no idea what that means look up the link on this page to the BCU star awards schemes.

If you are new to the sport and would like to develop your skill level and understanding, look into working towards a two star award and see if any Foundation Safety and Rescue (FSRT) courses are running soon

At all levels of canoeing you should keep a log book of the rivers, activities and awards that you have done. A template for this can be found here.

BCU Awards

Coaching Awards Guidance - for those that wish to become a coach

C1 Form � Pre registration for becoming a Coach


BCU stands for British Canoe Union which is an umbrella organisation made up of Canoe England, Canoe Scotland, Canoe Association of Northern Ireland and the Welsh Canoeing Association. They are the leading body for canoeing and kayaking in the UK.

The BCU run paddlesport test and awards schemes and coaching qualifications, up-to-date details of which can all be found on their website.

Their website has a reputation for being difficult to navigate and find anything that you're specifically looking for, however it is a hive of information for anything paddling related! These pages are simply meant as an overview with short explanation and a quick reference point for links.

BCU Star Awards

The main BCU award scheme for personal paddlesport development is the star award scheme. They are designed to introduce a beginner to a variety of craft and skills in order to create a solid foundation from which to build into more advanced levels of paddlesport.

BCU One Star is a flat water award that demonstrates an individual has basic boat control and transferable foundation skills in any one kind of paddlesport craft (e.g. sit-on-top, slalom C2, polo boat, sea kayak, racing canoe etc.)

BCU Two Star is a development flat water award that demonstrates an individual has an understanding of and an ability to control how the body, boat and blade interact with the water in order to manoeuvre any craft.

BCU Three Star is a discipline specific award, currently available for sea kayak, surf, open canoe, white water kayak and touring. It demonstrates that an individual is a competent performer in sheltered to moderate water environments, and they can consider themselves intermediate rather than beginner.

Paddlesport Four Star Leader Award demonstrates that an individual has the paddling ability to paddle moderate level water with peers and the all round paddling ability, safety, rescue and basic leadership required to undertake and lead trips on sheltered - moderate water. Paddlesport Five Star Leader Award is similar but demonstrates a high level of skill on more advanced water

BCU Safety Training

These courses are designed to develop an individual's safety awareness during paddlesport. Some are pre-requisites for coaching and star leader awards.

Foundation Safety and Rescue Training (FSRT) is a course designed for all paddlers (irrespective of craft) to teach simple and safe skills that can be applied appropriately.

White Water Safety and Rescue (WWSR) and Advanced White Water Safety and Rescue (AWWSR) are training courses to provide the underpinning knowledge and teach simple and safe practical skills that can be applied appropriately in the moderate to advanced white water environment

Personal Paddling Skills

From the 3 star syllabus: - Lifting, carrying and launching/landing - Efficient forward paddling - Reverse over a figure of 8 course - Moving sideways, both static and on the move - Supporting, both static and on the move - Rolling - Breaking in and out - Ferry gliding

BCU Coaching Awards

This coaching pathway is designed for both individuals interested in both recreational and competition coaching. The new awards offer national accreditation by the BCU, the UKCC (UK Coaching Certificate), and the National Qualifications Framework. Level Three is currently in development phase but will be introduced soon (I've heard). This pdf (link) has a neat diagram that outlines the structure of this coaching pathway.

BCU UKCC Level One Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport introduces you to the fundamentals of good coaching practice and helps you to understand and coach technical and tactical aspects of your sport.

BCU UKCC Level Two Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport focuses on progressive coaching, helping you to develop your students within their first 3 years of paddling, through a series of sessions.

BCU Long Term Paddler Development (LTPD)

LTPD is about developing a paddler (generally from before teens through adolescence) in a process to maximise mental and physical development. The linked website has all the information about what the LTPD as well as a short test which will give you a certificate to show you've understood things! Leaflet as pdf file (link)

Coaching Tools

IDEAS Structure

When running a coaching session, it's good to have some structure so that paddlers know what they're supposed to be doing and when. The IDEAS structure is a model to base all sessions (loosely) around.

Introduction - let everyone know what's going to be accomplished in the session, eg what technique is to be learnt

Demonstration - show everyone the technique to they can see what they're supposed to do

Explanation - describe the technique, pointing out important parts.

Activity - develop an activity so paddlers can practice the technique and commit it to memory

Summary - finish the session with a summary of what was learnt, using the opportunity to get/give feedback

Paddlesport Fundamentals

These are the four concepts that underpin quality paddlesport skills. Consideration of them by paddlers when learning and practicing skills aids development.

Active Posture - allows freedom and sensitivity of movement

Connectivity - allows the paddler to react to the movement of the boat, paddles and water

Feel - the connectivity allows the paddler to feel and anticipate the movement of the boat in the water

Power transfer - how to get the most efficient transfer of power for the desired outcome

A lot more details about these fundamentals can be found here (link).

Target Setting

Setting goals for yourself, or for the paddlers you are coaching means you have something to aim for and know where you are headed. This means you're more productive in your practice time and are able to enjoy a sense of achievement when targets are reached. Goals should be SMARTER. There are a few versions of the acronym, but one of them is outlined below, describing an example target:

I will be a qualified Level 2 Coach by October 2010.

Specific: it says exactly what I'm going to do in a concise and clear manner

Measurable: once I have successfully passed a Level 2 Coach assessment, I know I've achieved my goal

Agreed: the target must be agreed by both the coach (my mentor) and the paddler (me)

Realistic: this is perfectly realistic for me to achieve. I have already done my Level 2 training, so it requires me to tick off the pre-requisites, practice my coaching and attend an assessment day

Timed: I have a clear deadline in my target before which I want to achieve it

Exciting: these kind of goals are met far sooner than boring goals. I love coaching, so this is exciting for me!

Recorded: goals should be recorded so they can be reviewed often

River Trips

Whether you're leading, being led or paddling with peers with no defined leader, there are four things to keep in mind on a paddling trip, so put your hands together for the next acronym (CLAP):

Communication: whether through speech, hand signals or mysterious clicking sounds, make sure communication is clear and everyone knows what they're doing. Setting up a communication system before beginning is advised.

Line of sight: maintaining line of sight with your whole group (directly or indirectly) so that sections of the group are not cut-off

Avoidance is better than cure: if your group has got into a sticky situation, in hindsight it could nearly always have been avoided by better decisions beforehand (before the trip or on the trip)

Position of maximum usefulness: be in a position to be most useful as if a situation was about to turn sour. This is applicable throughout a trip, whether protecting spontaneous capsize on a seemingly flat stretch of river, or setting up safety on a rapid

There is a bit more explanation on the WWSR training notes (linky) on page 7. This page is very specific though, and you should really be thinking of them being around in the background for every situation. Another guy has written up a bit about CLAP in sea-kayaking situations here.

Rescuing Swimmers

Before 'diving' into a rescue to help the swimmer, prioritise the people you look after in the following order:

Self Group Victim

Keeping these priorities in mind, consider enacting types of rescues that minimise the danger for you and your group first. Consider the following ways of rescuing:

Self: The swimmer swim themselves to a point of safety (eg an eddy)

Shout: Shout at a disorientated swimmer with clear directions (and hand gestures) to swim to a point of safety

Reach: From the bank, use a paddle or tape to reach towards the victim so they can grab it and can be guided into an eddy

Throw: Use a throwline to reach the swimmer

Row: In your boat, paddle to the swimmer and help them to safety

Go: Live-bait to the swimmer. This is a last resort, usually only for unconscious swimmers

Technical Templates: 3 Star Kayak skills

When teaching or learning a technique, it's a good idea to think of it in 3 parts: body, boat, blade and then put it altogether with the brain!

Forward Paddling

Watch this video of Tim Brabants training. If you didn't know, he won the Gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in K1 class over 1000m, so basically his technique can't be bad! However, it is very specific to to racing long distances in straight lines: not perfectly suitable to white water river running.


Head: up straight, driving forward a little

Shoulders: twisting (trunk rotation)

Arms: virtually straight, pushing top hand rather than pulling bottom hand

Hips: rotating (trunk rotation)

Legs: 'cycling', pushing the boat forward


A flat heel, with no edge


Shaft: Vertical shaft of paddle when entering and driving through the water

Small pause before blade enters the water to allow upper hand to bring blade into vertical position and bottom hand to reach forward

Bring through water close to boat, in order to reduce turning

Backwards Paddling

Moving sideways



How do we learn?

Every paddler has skills at different stages of learning. As coaches, our aim is to develop a paddler's skills as quickly as possible, to a higher level of standard. This relies on ingraining the skill into the paddler's brain. Read a bit on how the brain takes up the details we're throwing at it in this book. Start from page 120 on "how do we learn" up to "making a start" on page 123. Then check out "Types of Practice" on page 129. Feel free to read the rest of the author (how about supporting the author and buying it?!)

Some of the important points you should gain from it are:

- Short Term Memory (STM) can only hold about 7 bits of information, so remove distractions and don't overload a paddler with information that hasn't been converted into LTM already.

- Although a paddler may be an expert (autonomous) learner in a particular skill, if you introduce them to a new skill, they will be a novice (cognitive) learner with that skill.

- Adjust the type of practice to the stage of learning that the paddlers you are coaching are at

White Water Features

How to Swim

Defensive swimming

White Water Kit guidelines

Buoyancy Aids, Helmet, Karabiners

Useful e-book with more advice

Page updated 27/10/2009