It’s that time once again. Canoecopia is now stampeding across the outdoor industry messaging prairie leaving nothing but dust in its wake. Um, Or .. well, Everybody’s talking about Canoecopia March 8th through March 10th. We’ll be there of course… ‘Nuff said.. Now let’s talk about pool sessions, coaching and Sue’s new roll!
Most of us old geezers know that the trick to good coaching is mostly about staying out of the way. It’s hard, but with time we learn to do nothing quite well. Really. We don’t really teach, per se. We give students pointers along a road. Touchstones on the path to their goal.
When it comes to coaching kayak rolling it can be hard to not to be intrusive. You see students doing 50 things badly all at once and want to correct them all. You give them tips, you show them body motions, you physically help them, hell some coaches even wrap floats around the poor person’s paddle. Anything to get them back up. I get that. You want your students to be successful. The problem with this, at least in my mind, is that students often need to learn IN SPITE of their coach. Noisy coaching is rolling death. It’s not that noisy coaches aren’t saying good things.. they’re just saying too many good things, too often to help. There’s lot of noise and distraction caused by a coach simply wanting to help too much. It’s something we all need to be aware of…
Avoiding the noise is exactly why I enjoy teaching traditional style rolling. It’s calm. It’s something paddlers really learn on their own through a sensual connection with their body, boat and paddle. They learn to float, to relax and to come up with no momentum. As a coach you create touchstones along their path. The balance brace, the body motions and of course how to keep the paddle out of the way. As the T-shirt says, “It’s a Zen thing.”
Sue’s New Roll
It’s a good thing it’s a “Zen Thing” because in the coaching world it’s said that you should never teach your partner to roll a kayak. It’s nearly as dangerous as paddling a canoe together! Well, somehow we managed it and after two real coaching sessions Sue got her first rolls last night while we spent some fun play time at the local pool. I’m always amazed how quickly your first traditional roll can be learned. Not everyone moves at such speeds, but in traditional style, quick success is a real possibility. Congrats to Sue too. She’s a fast learner! I really enjoyed watching her hang under the boat after a failed attempt, refocus, reset, then succeed. That’s the way you do it!
There’s nothing like a quiet night at the pool this time of year. It was nearly 8 years ago now when I first called our local pool to see if I could get a kayak in there. Ever since then, taking the kayak to the pool has been a regular habit. Good times…
Pool Session Madness
That brings me to the most recent “Pool Session” we’ve had here in Baraboo. Not something I had anything to do with organizing. It’s become pretty popular with at least 18 paddlers at the last one. “Great”, you say? No. Dangerous, yes. Sucktastic. Certainly.
You simply can’t fill a pool with kayaks controlled (sort of) by people of all different skill levels and dare I say, “common sense” levels then let them run riot! There were WW boats, sea kayaks and yes, even a bunch of recreational kayaks in there. In this over-filled bobbing menagerie, people were trying to stand, trying to cowboy up on rec boats, speed around in ww boats, and of course roll or try to roll. Basically it was SFE.. (Sh#t Flying Everywhere!) Was everyone having fun? Maybe. But the folks who came to practice and learn.. I mean, really came to learn… were disappointed. What happened here is that we had a great resource in our local pool. It was fine to invite community members and guests to have kayak nights. What shouldn’t have happened was something akin to straight up encouraging folks from Madison and elsewhere to all rush over and exploit our small town’s under-used pool. It sounds like a great plan.. but it’s not. For our part, we won’t be going to any more of these events. It’s not safe, and no fun.