Saturday, 23 December 2006 18:22

Kayak Edging - Teach it at the start

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I had an epiphany this past summer. I was teaching at a Greenland Symposium in Wawa, Ontario, Canada and I was paired up for the weekend with Bonnie Perry from Chicago, IL. She is a level 4 paddler and holders her level 3 BCU coach.

Both of us taught the intro to Greenland kayaking sessions and had a boatload of fun. During the weekend Bonnie filled me in on a teaching tip that was passed on to her recently. She asked me, "When do you teach the concept of edging to beginners?"

"Well, I was always taught that edging was an intermediate skill so I tend to hold off on that concept at least until the second day", I said.

"Try changing your teaching order around" Bonnie went on to say, "Move the concept of edging almost right to the beginning (right after they are comfortable on the water). If you teach edging to beginners right away, they will never know anything different and develop good boat control quicker. They way they will associate edging with turning and boat control just like kids associate leaning their bicycles with going around corners."

Wow, that was really interesting. Since then, I have spent a good amount of time thinking about it and it makes sense.

When introducing the concept of edging, break it down into four levels of commitment. Level 1 is very slight with only a little bit of upward pressure on your thigh, level 2 is a little bit farther over while level 3 is far enough over that you will need a support stroke to keep you from going over. Level 4 is upside down.

By talking about the concept early in your lesson and getting your students to practice while in a static position, they will develop a knowledge baseline that they can refer back to when you are teaching more advanced strokes.

When introducing a new stroke like the forward sweep for example, demonstrate it with a flat hull. As the students get the concept, introduce an edge to your sweep. Students will instantly see the benefits of keeping their boat on edge. They also don’t need to put it over on edge to far; a level 1 edge is perfect for them at their skill level.

Edging is a key component to good boat control. If it is taught to students with the attitude that, "this is just how we do it" then they won’t know that it is a top secret “intermediate" technique.
David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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