The new emphasis on open boating in the BCU's revised Star Awards has lead to a much greater interest in canoeing, as opposed to kayaking, within our club. This suits me well when it comes to my regular club coaching sessions as coaching open boating is a great opportunity to practice my own skills and it can be a lot of fun introducing people to something new.
last night I offered an intro to open boats session and had five takers. They had varying levels of kayaking experience but only one had been in a canoe before so we started off just going for a paddle to see how they would get on with keeping a straight course. After a little experimentation we gathered round to discuss the results and I introduced the J stroke as a solution to keeping the canoe running straight.
The small group gave me a chance to work with everyone individually for a few minutes and we made good progress with developing the technique. Working one on one really helps me to see the different learning styles and is a good reminder to try and deliver a session through a variety of learning channels.
After some land based drills and a little more practice with the J stroke we moved on to turning strokes, taking the opportunity to introduce the idea of using bow and stern draws to turn the boat. As kayakers the group were familiar with draws but the idea of using them for steering was new. This led on to the pry and then the box stroke. I think they were quite surprised at how different some of the canoe strokes were to what they were used to.
We finished up with some balancing games including standing and walking around the canoe and one of my favorite finales: the five canoe pyramid, which we paddled back to the dock.
The session had covered a lot of technical stroke work (and even some knots), probably a bit more than I would normally do with complete novices but the kayaking experience of the group and their interest meant that they were able to take it all in. I enjoyed the session and am looking forward to introducing more of my club mates to canoeing.