Book Review - British Canoe Union Coaching Handbook

Tuesday, 26 December 2006
British Canoe Union Coaching Handbook In 2006 the British Canoe Union released an addition to its very popular Canoe and Kayak Handbook. The new Coaching Handbook is an ocean of useful information and practical tips for coaches and instructors whether you are involved with canoe, white water, sprint slalom, or sea kayaking.

Rather then just getting the perspective of one author or instructor, the Coaching Handbook was written by a group of 18 top BCU coaches in their particular sport. At over 380 pages there is more then enough information to satisfy both beginner and advanced coaches.
The Coaching Handbook is broken down into three major parts. Part One deals with coaching theory and fundamentals such as psychology and physiology explained in terms that make sense to a practical coach.

Part Two looks at generic coaching skills that will provide useful tools whatever discipline the coach is involved in. It works its way from introducing people to paddlesports right through to coaching elite athletes.

Part Three looks at specific aspects of paddlesports such as slalom, racing, sea kayaking, white water kayaking, open canoeing and freestyle.

Over the years, I have read several books and articles on teaching theory and how people learn. Though interesting, most of the stuff goes right over my head. This book is different, the editor worked very hard to keep the coaching and physiological principles professional yet simple and most importantly, practical for paddlers. There are lots of mini break-out tables that summarize the section; explaining how it is applicable to me as a coach. A fantastic solution for people like me that are interested in say, the physiological response to stress but get lost in the technical, doctor talk.

Halfway through the book, I found an unexpected treat, there is an entire chapter dedicated to the use of video during your coaching. The use of video during instruction is such a powerful tool that more instructors need to take the time and make use of it. You will find practical information on things like equipment choices and dealing with water as well as suggestions on shot angles and framing to get the best possible footage.

One of the topics that the Coaches Handbook deals with is how to teach to specific population groups including children and teenagers. There is also a breakdown of how you would adjust your teaching style to beginners, improvers or advanced paddlers. The one chapter that I really enjoyed was on coaching the absolute beginner to ensure that their first experience is positive and rewarding. The reality is that if you can’t hook somebody into paddlesports the first time, the likelihood of them getting involved in paddling is greatly reduced. There is information on how to create a positive learning environment, dealing with student’s fears as well as practical items like classroom setting or effectively moving from land to water (and staying dry!).

The British Canoe Union Coaching Handbook is highly recommended to both novice and experienced coaches. Anybody who is interested in improving your coaching technique needs this book.

The British Canoe Union Coaching Handbook is available from directly from the BCU, Pesda Press or other fine booksellers.

View a sample chapter - Chapter 4: Duty of Care

Edited by Franco Ferrero
Published by Pesda Press
ISBN 0-9547061-6-1

David Johnston

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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