Becoming a Coach

 Paddler Development – Becoming a Coach

“I can’t be a coach; you need to be a brilliant paddler to coach others”.  

NOT TRUE! In this article we‟re going to try and tell you what you need to do to get your BCU coaching qualifications and get on the lower rung as a UKCC Level 1 Coach. The first level of coach is for paddlers of good 2-Star ability, so you don’t need to be a “brilliant‟ paddler, you just need to enjoy helping others to paddle.

So why would you want to coach? You might think you wouldn’t be comfortable coaching and feel it’s beyond you. You need not worry, as the training you get on the coaching course will address those issues. If you want to progress with your personal paddling then I’d encourage you to coach others for one simple reason; to be able to coach others you need to understand how to break down the strokes yourself to make the boat do what you want, and if you understand that then your own paddling will improve.


So where do you start? Well you need to have a number of pre-requisites in place but they‟re hopefully not too onerous:-

  • You need to have the new 2-Star (or old 2-Star in both kayak and open canoe) and be of good paddling ability in both craft. Join our training courses this summer if you need this.
  • You need to attend the new ‘Foundation Safety and Rescue Training’ course (FSRT) and practice those rescues. The old ‘Canoe Safety Test’ (CST) no longer counts. See the current Programme for a course if you need this.
  • It is recommended but not compulsory to have a first aid qualification. Speak to one of our coaches if you need this.
  • You need to be an individual member of the BCU, which has other benefits too.
  • You need to be over 16 years old – You’ll have to sort this yourself!


You‟re now ready to attend a coaching course. You don‟t need any previous coaching experience – although it won‟t hurt to work with an existing coach beforehand if you can:-

  1. You need to find a UKCC Level 1 course. We publish some local courses in the club magazine or you can contact the BCU or local Outdoor Centres for other courses ;
  2. Send off your BCU Course Registration form (which the course owner will point you to) ;
  3. You then attend two weekends of training and assessment and you have your Level 1 coach qualification. CONGRATULATIONS ;

Getting your UKCC L1 Coach allows you to initially teach paddlers under the direct supervision of a more senior coach. As your coaching experience grows (and you have a CRB check) you can start to work alone in contained environments. You can train paddlers and you can assess Paddlepower Start awards (for juniors) and Paddlesport Start awards (for adults). So what are you waiting for?


Funding to support you in becoming a coach may be available from a number of sources:-

  1. Suffolk Sport may help pay for some of your course – contact ;
  2. The BCU may have other sources of funding for you to access – contact ;
  3. The course itself may be subsidised from another source to help the participants ;
  4. The Club may help with a contribution to your course if you are an active club member and continue to coach within the Club. See Our Coach Training Funding Policy.

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Ref: [lifted from ICC magazine ‘Coaching Corner’ article by Jim Ellis (July 2009) ]