BCU/Canoe England Coach update in Jersey

BCU/Canoe England Coach update in Jersey

Sea kaya coaching

A pause for thought

We’re just had the BCU/Canoe England coach update with Mike Devlin and Keith Hampton over to run the course.

This was a chance for channel island kayak coaches to update their kayak coaching skills and knowledge. 25 coaches from Jersey and Guernsey attended.

In spite of numerous requests no programme was forthcoming from ‘BCU towers’ and the silence was deafening! It seems that because the CI is not technically part of the UK sports regions there is an issue over the funding for coach updates in the islands. As a result it’s BCU HQ staff and not paddle sport development offices who attend.

The Olympics has left a legacy for the rank and file of paddlesport – less cash!  Targets for medals at the Brazil Olympics are being set and NGB’s are expected to do more with less cash. What this means is that resources for recreational and non medal winning areas will be squeezed. Sports that are not hitting the targets (read medals) will have their funding cut. And they once  said it was not about medals….

The morning session was an opportunity to learn about changes in the coaching scheme. If you earn cash by working for clubs etc. you’ll need to start declaring this to the tax man. Mike also said the UK tax office has looked at kayak and sports coaches and is taking the view that if you do some work for a centre or club and get paid you are not working freelance but are an employee. It seems it is all down to whether the coach can come and go as they please or are they crucial to the running of the session/task. Look out for a lot more zero hour and sessional contracts I suspect.

The meeting highlighted the lack of Foundation Safety and Rescue training assessors in the channel islands. Perhaps I’ll arrange an FSRT trainers event in Jersey, providing there is enough interest,  and the coaches are willing to cover the costs of bringing a trainer over. I could be optimistic ask BCU HQ for support….

Mike suggested the BCU 4 star leader award is a good route for clubs to use to ensure those leading club trips meet a standard. Level 2 UKCC coaches should be aiming for the 4 star and Moderate Water Endorsement (MWE)which will increase their skills to paddle and coach in more demanding waters.  An existing level 3 coach can access the MWE (so long as they have the ‘new’ 4 star. At the moment the need is to get more people up to Level 2 coach. In the Channel isles this may require coaches going over to the UK to train.

Mike leading an on the water session

After a short lunch Keith and Mike ran a couple of workshops on Ouaisne beach. Some thought this was good, others were not so sure. Personally, I found the paddler profiling exercise useful and a chance to try out the Technical, Tactical,Physical and Psychological elements of profiling. The main thing it demonstrates is the need to develop a rapport with the student and to identify strengths and areas of weakness to build on based on the paddlers perceptions/needs.

The Q&A session spent a bit of time getting to grips with why the FSRT course results in a certificate of attendance rather than a formal assessment. The view -we were told- is that people did not want it to be an assessed module. At other levels e.g. the Level 1 coach award the ability to perform the FSRT skills is assessed in the decision to issue the L1 award. Bit like the Coastal navigation and tidal planning course. If your navigation skills are poor you will not pass the 4 star. In both cases the goal seems to be to improve safety skills via training courses.

Another asked how an organisation should respond to clients wanting only level 3 coaches. Pretty simple really- Mike explained- it’s the customer who calls the shots, especially if they are from an organisation which has this requirement in their operating procedures.

Staffing ratios for kayaking. Mike explained there is no obligation to follow the guidelines in the BCU terms of reference for coaches and leaders document ( I’ll leave you to find the document on the CE webpage) as it will depend on the client group, experience,age, location etc. Mike did not think a ‘coach’ leading groups from a safety boat constituted good practice on the sea. The BCU terms of reference are a set of guidelines. However, I suspect that in the event of an accident it will be these ratios and guidelines that will be used as the benchmark.

A few delegates wondered if the update could just have easily been achieved by arranging a virtual coaching update event via Skype or similar.


A chance to meet up with coaches from Guernsey

It is never easy to arrange to be at a coach update and I know a few coaches were working or off island. I’m sure this is a problem other coaches in the UK also encounter if they miss an update in their region. This was something Mike thought could be worth exploring along with a set of resources so coaches could do their updates on line. I wouldn’t hold my breath for this though!

Luckily the fog held off to allow Keith and Mike to get to Jersey. Getting back to the UK took a bit longer as the fog delayed their flights for around 7 hours.

Was it worthwhile? Well if you want to stay up to date and asses BCU awards, then the answer is yes. In terms of the cost and time required for both the participants and presenters then the answer is no. Online resources, CPD updates etc would be a better way to go.

Derek Hairon