Coaching and Instructing Ideas

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The skill of good instruction is important in a practical activity such as canoeing. The way we organise our sessions can greatly affect the learning process for our students. A much used simple coaching sequence is formed by the acronym:-

IDEAS - Stands for:
Introduction
Demonstration
Explanation
Activity - repeat demonstrations and explanations within varied coaching exercises.
Summary

The IDEAS model provides a structure to help introduce paddle strokes in a logical and effective manner. However, the parts of the whole are not necessarily of equal importance. Thus, we need to bear the following points in mind.

Demo 1 - "Look at the kayak's movement through the water."

Demo 2 - "Now look at the path the paddle takes through the water."

Demo 3 - "Now focus on my shoulders, to see how they rotate throughout the stroke."

The Explanation should reinforce what has been seen through the demonstration, and should be confined to short, simple key points. Remember that most people will be doing well to remember three key points of a new skill.

The explanation should also set a clear goal for the activity of the group.

The Activity is the most important part of the IDEAS model. Our groups may have forgotten the explanation completely and remembered a little of the demonstration. They will only begin to understand this new skill when they actually practice and experiment.

We should work on creating a safe and relaxed atmosphere for learning, with games and exercises which are challenging but not beyond the reach of our students. The activity phase should take up the majority of our instructing time afloat. If the group spends most of the time watching and listening, we will not have helped their learning, quite apart from the boredom and frustration which will probably set in.

Let the group begin with a simple imitation of the stroke which was demonstrated. Move among the group giving feedback and correction where necessary. Try to make the coaching positive, building on what the students can already do, rather than tearing everything down and starting again. If we can encourage a sense of achievement and progress, people are likely to learn much more effectively.

Finally, the more games and exercises we have to punctuate the session, the more enjoyable and productive our instructing is likely to be - for everyone. Practising the same skill in many different ways helps to reinforce learning and lots of variety can increase motivation within the group.

The Summary of the key points should bring the session to a close. Emphasise the goals achieved, potential uses for the new skill, and perhaps round off with a game or exercise to reinforce the learning. Again, keep it short and simple.

In conclusion, this coaching model offers a very simple guideline to instructing basic canoeing skills. It makes an ideal starting point for the development of other effective coaching techniques, which can help to make sessions more interesting and enjoyable. Experiment with different approaches, hang on to the successful ones and keep adding to your list of games and exercises.

Finally, remember the old cliché - "if they're not having fun, they're probably not learning.