Should teaching kayaking change???? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-15-2005   #1
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 305
Should teaching kayaking change????

To those that took a kayak class, or just anyone.

Should more emphasis be put on self rescue/ SWR during the first few lessons of a Kayaking Class?

Should Classes be longer, more structured, more steps offered with less emphasis on getting the roll on the first try, maybe a session using paddle floats and goggles as aids to muscle memory, instead of as a last resort?

Should people be discouraged from teaching their friends the basic skills needed in kayaking? Leaving it to people with teaching skills and a proven method? “Read that” shops/Instructors.

Should there be a dry land theory/video class before the pool/lake?

Or is it fine the way it is?

After teaching SCUBA for 20+ years and watching the structure/style of the class change over time I am seeing many similar parallels to the way kayaking is taught.

I would like to hear for any kayak Instructors out there.

And feel free to rip on me also.....

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Old 11-15-2005   #2
pnw, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Good question but from what I learned in SWR class the most important thing in any situation is to not make the problem worse. I think the reason that most beginners are not encouraged to take or practice SWR is the feeling that they would not be able to help the situation and possibly make it worse. Maybe the right way would be to divide SWR into two types of classes, one where you learn to self-rescue and prevent yourself from being an accident and another advanced class where you learn to assist others.
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Old 11-15-2005   #3
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Sounds good, kind of like if you can't help yourself how can you help me.
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Old 11-15-2005   #4
Portland OR
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I learned to paddle in Oregon taking a four day class. In the class of however many we spent only a fraction of our time on the lake and in the river learning to roll. I was lucky and picked up my roll the first try, but I was the only person in the four day class to learn to roll.
I now have a very good friend in Oregon who is a kayak instructor and a fiance here in Colorado who is learning to kayak. I took my fiance out and got here in the water as well as worked on her role. She got close but was never really comfortable in her boat. After spending time in her boat just paddling around in the river with my friend in Oregon she eventually learned to role. My friend in Oregon says that when they are teaching any of their many satisfied clients, they do not concentrate on the role until they have been on the river for 3 days.
just a thought
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Old 11-15-2005   #5
Join Date: Sep 2004
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I've only been paddling for 4 years and I learned the roll first as well, though I didn't learn it. That took me 3 years on the water, as I worked up to runs that would actually dump me. I'd put it in this order: 1. Self rescue 2. strokes 3. reading the river 4. rolling 5. SWR

I think there needs to be more emphasis on strokes, including proper technique, paddle grip and body position (arms, chest, head, etc). With the proper strokes you have the ability and confidence to make those "must-make" moves. Proper stroking, , will help you avoid injuries as well. (Plus people tend to get pissy when you don't stroke with the proper technique!!)

When I first started I always hurt my shoulders and I had an elbow problem. I got advice on this site and my pains have virtually gone away. I was simply not using correct strokes, in the proper positions.

I'm not prepared to debate SWR being 5th, it should probably be higher, but it at least needs to be in there. I....uhhh.... haven'ttakenityet, but I am this year dambit! My main point is that rolling shouldn't be first.

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Old 11-15-2005   #6
ski/kayak bum
Join Date: Oct 2003
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ROLLING IS THE SECOND BEST TYPE OF SELF RESCUE next to restraint! it should be taught after CPR/First Aid and wet exits for beginners.
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Old 11-15-2005   #7
Join Date: Aug 2005
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I teach a class for beginners and start with a dry land day in the class room. We go over all of the gear and how it works and its uses, as well as watching video so they get a visualization of the skills they are going to use. Next, we take them to the pool and teach them strokes, bracing, and rolling (with all of the in between stuff like T-rescue turning strokes etc.). During the class we always stress the importance of taking swift water rescue and CPR classes. After this beginning class we offer a next level class where we take them class II with one class III in the river. Once again we have a class day and use white board drawings and video to explain the river and show them the skills they will be using. Then, we do a weekend river trip where the first day we teach them basic moving in current, ferries, eddy turns, rolling in easy current, and identifying hazards and scouting. On the last day we actually take them down the run trying to catch a lot of eddies and talking about what we see the whole time down.
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Old 11-15-2005   #8
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Good call Double-A.

To answer the 4th question...

I feel that kayakers (compared to other sports) are some of the worst at learning proper technique and are generally horrible at taking the time to improve their technique. Hence, most of your paddling partners are probably going to teach you bad habits.

There is a clear difference between being a good instructor and being a good kayaker. When I went through ACA instructor training half of the students where class V- boaters at best (and I believe that the level of whitewater you can run directly relates to how good your technique is.) Just because someone can teach doesn't mean they know what they are teaching.

If you go and hit a couple of rails at a ski resort you will probably find some 16 year old kid that could watch you and tell you exactly what you are doing wrong and how to fix it. Chances are, you will find a different person every trip that knows what you are doing wrong. (yes, it has happened to me)

But if I go to a typical class III-IV run (think waterton, bailey, numbers) chances are very few of the paddlers there would have any idea how your grip on your paddle affects your forward stroke. Or, what simple manuever will in most cases be better than a brace and still benefit the paddler in the same way.

Bottom line, take any advice you receive from a friend (assuming this friend paddles the same class of water as you do) with a grain of salt, because they are probably doing it wrong, as with most of the other paddlers out there. If this friend knows how to skillfully run some shit, then they are probably doing something right and you might want to listen to them. And no, bailey doesn't count as "some shit," but that's another argument.

Disclaimer: There will always be differences in the way people teach and what they teach, but a good instructor knows why they teach there way and why other instructors teach a different way.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 11-15-2005   #9
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Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
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Originally Posted by Cutch
There is a clear difference between being a good instructor and being a good kayaker.
Very, very true.

Originally Posted by Cutch
And no, bailey doesn't count as "some shit," but that's another argument.
LOL yeah let's not start that one up.

What pass did you get this year, man? Let's try to get some turns before your annual injury. My schedule isn't as flexible as it used to be, so it's pretty much only going up on amateur days for me. I'll give you a call later. I'm headed to the boat Friday...hoping to get lucky with another 18" like they just had. If not, there's a hot tub anyway.
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Old 11-16-2005   #10
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Thanks everyone good input/food for thought....
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