Outrigger Canoeing and Stand Up Paddle Boarding Books

Steve West - Winner of the World Paddle Award - Media Category 2014

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Stand Up Paddle Boarding - A Paddlers Guide 510pp
Outrigger Canoeing - A Paddlers Guide to The Ancient Sport of Kings 465pp
Outrigger Canoeing - The Art and Skill of Steering 168pp
Outrigger Canoeing - OC1 Book - A Paddlers Guide 306pp
Outrigger Canoeing - V1 Va'a Hoe - A Paddlers Guide 292pp

'When one of our coaches and paddlers asked coach Gerard from Shell Va'a where he got his, 'Theory and Technique Concepts' from, he replied, "I read all the books - Steve West books and whatever books I can get a hold of". You inspire us all and give words where there were none or little. Thank you so much. Your hard work is greatly appreciated world-wide from the big to the little fishes.'
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Junior Age Paddlers

Youth are ‘our’ future?

‘The youth are our future,’ is the catch-cry of many a coach, parent and participant, be it in the context of sport or any other endeavour or enterprise. But when we talk in terms of future what exactly are we speaking of? Being something of a clichéd expression, one could be forgiven for failing to stop and reflect on what it is we mean by, ‘our future’. 

A basic philosophy behind what it is we mean by the expression, must be understood and developed. It’s not ‘our’ future, it’s ‘theirs’ and herein lies a key to how we may go about developing this future we speak of.

In short, what we offer in the present, need be good enough to ensure that our youth may consider outrigger canoeing or SUP (paddle sports) as a lifelong pursuit. It stands to reason if they only participate for a short time, then they are not part of any future, just simply part of a those who came, saw and left, not necessarily ever to return. 

The importance of ‘qualified’ junior aged coaches and assistants

While many well-meaning volunteer Mums, Dads, Uncles, Aunts et al con- tribute many hours to the ‘coaching’ and instruction of their immediate and unrelated youth, many are ill equipped to be in such a position of responsibility. 

Further more, more often than not within outrigger canoe clubs, it is not the clubs ‘most qualified’ or even ‘most talented’ individuals who are offering coaching to the youth contingent of their respective clubs, when infact this trend needs to be reversed, as the technical input required by junior age paddlers (skill acquisition) is significantly more crucial than it is for that of an adult age paddler. 

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Junior age ‘Wants’ and ‘Needs’ 

Consider the burden we put upon our youth at a participant level through our collective desire as adults. Sometimes we pressure our youth into participation and pledge their dedication, to what can essentially be turned into a ‘cause’, without possible consideration of their essential ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. Take time out to listen to concerns and anxieties that may exist. 

A holistic approach

Whatever it may mean for you, the ‘holistic’ consideration must ultimately be the most appropriate. If we are to truly develop paddlers in terms of participation numbers and levels of excellence - not elitism - then clearly a strategy needs to be developed for both considerations. 

Mass appeal

We could develop the best of junior training programs aimed at improving levels of excellence, but fail to encourage growth in numbers if it only appeals to a limited number of youth who are driven [intrinsically or extrinsically] to adhere to the program. 

Minimising attrition rates

Whilst outrigger canoeing and SUP, have experienced significant growth over recent years, the attrition rate - those who tried and left - would seem relatively high both at adult and youth levels. We should be concerned about this. 

Challenges of junior age coaching. 

The coaching of junior paddlers, is on many levels more complex and chal- lenging than that of adults and anyone who coaches both can vouch for that. Coaching juniors is predictable to the degree to which it can be unpredictable. 

Physiological/psychological Fragility

Physiological and psychological fragility on differing levels of acuteness, given differing age groups are your greatest challenges, beyond creating a safe, nurturing learning environment. Perhaps it’s too much to ask that our junior coaches are skilled in child psychology and physiology, but some consideration must be given to these facets or you will run the risk of damaging your paddlers on one level or another, or both. 

A structured approach

In developing a structured approach to the coaching of junior paddlers, the concept of 'future' necessitates a time continuum approach, allowing in particular for their physiological maturation process, from approximately 8 years and upwards to at least 19 years of age. 

Your greatest concern in the coaching of junior age paddlers, is that of the prevention of injury, through demanding more from the athletes body than it is physiologically able to cope with, given any particular point of maturation. 

Technique and skill acquistion

The importance of skill acquisition - the learning of sound technique - at an early age, cannot be overstated. It is key to short and long term prevention of injury, coupled with the use of appropriate equipment (specifically the correct paddle type, size and length) together with the nature of the training sessions implemented, relative to varied levels of maturation. 

Youthful exuberance

Fundamentally, the ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ of junior age paddlers, while not entirely the same as that of adults, mirrors much of those requirements. However, junior age paddlers must be considered more vulnerable, more sensitive and at times with a tendency to let ‘high spirits’ lead to irresponsible actions, which must be accounted for at all times as a basic concern of ‘risk management’ of these age groups. 

Concerns and commitments 

Providing equal encouragement to both male and female paddlers.
Providing equal opportunity to all.
Constantly being aware of differing levels of ability.
Setting realistic goals and objectives. 
Putting safety first at all times.
Developing a strategy for dealing with parental input and issues.
Being reasonable at all times in one’s demands. 

Commitment to developing an understanding of the growth and development of children and keeping pace with progressive coaching techniques. 

Behaviour, codes of conduct and rules 

Make paddlers aware of;
Expected rules of behaviour and codes of conduct.
The possible consequences of irresponsible behaviour.
The Rules for the purposes of competition. 
The need to respect decisions made by coach, assistants and officials. 

Legal requirements

Respect and research local Child Protection Acts and Security Screen Tests

Sun Exposure

Be sun smart in particular for junior aged paddlers in acknowledgement that paddle sports are conducted in an environment which makes sun safety paramount, more so in some regions of the world than others.

The importance of sun protection in the formative years

Protection from sunburn up to 17yrs of age, increases prevention of skin cancers by up to 75%, which highlights the need to take an active role in such prevention in a coaching capacity. 

Appropriate day time participation 

Coaches should minimise time spent outdoors during the hours of 10am- 2pm, more especially during warmer times of the year. This is not always possible and particular importance needs to placed on preventative measures within these time frames. 

Effective role models 

Coaches must be effective and responsible role models for their young paddlers in exercising personal protection from the sun. 

Parental support and responsibility in this matter. 
Education on Sunsmart methods should be sought.

Responsibility for sun safety rests with each individual - in the case of junior age paddlers, some degree of responsibility rests with the parents support and enforcement of sun protection for their children, together with the coaches efforts. 

Recommended minimum dress standards for juniors in relation to sun protection. 

Application of SPF 30+ sunscreen (natural creams / sprays)
The wearing of Sunglasses AS107 is encouraged. 

Off Water clothing should include a long sleeved shirt with high collar made of UPF 50+ material. Loose fit, long length shorts. 

On Water shirts should be made from UPF50+ tight woven material and high neck line with sleeves to elbow length.

Peaked cap, preferably legionnaire style, material protecting neck and ears, or broad brimmed drill hat with 8cm brim. 

Effective training methods as they apply to junior age paddlers

Studies amongst successful coaches of junior kayak paddlers, determined that greater success was gained by concentrating a high percentage of time; training technique, ensuring a recreational approach to activities, training of the physical components within the kayak itself, while making training as specific and as much fun as possible. 

The results were as follows; 

Physical Components in the Kayak 33%
Physical Components on Land 5%
Technique 27%
Cross Training 4%
Recreational Approach 30% 

This particular study was made by Professor J. Vrijens and presented in 1994 in a paper entitled ‘Physiological Considerations of Training Young Kayak Athletes’. There are no reasons to suppose that this theory is any different for outrigger canoeing or SUP.

A ‘Recreational’ approach

When you consider that a ‘recreational’ approach accounted for 30% of the total value of input, it is reasonable to consider this as much of a ‘psychological’ consideration than anything else.

In short, if junior age paddlers are not having ‘fun’ then there is a strong possibility they are not learning, as they will have a strong inclination to ‘shut down’. 

‘Recreational’ suggests many things and may mean many different things to different coaches.

However, it does not suggest undisciplined, uncontrolled ‘fun’ but simply a more relaxed consideration of the training methodologies applied, the language used and the overall ‘tone’ of each training session.

Many natural skills are developed through a playful approach to any given activity, supported by guidance in good technique when appropriate, whilst providing a ‘safe’ and ‘nurturing’ learning environment. In short this can be termed 'discovery learning'.

Socialization

Children's motivation to be included in sports is more often out of a need to socialize with their peers, friends and to have fun. Beyond this, there is the desire to learn a new skill and to fulfil a need to be active. Failure to continue a sport, is often due to social reasons. 

With these ideas in mind, it highlights the need to create a sociable and enjoyable atmosphere, providing variety and fun. During the pre-adolescent stage in particular, 9-13 years, avoidance of serious physical discomfort as associated with anaerobic lactate training, should be avoided. 

Variety - The spice of life

Children benefit from participation in a variety of sporting activities beyond their preferred sport, fostering broader motor coordination skills and the capacity for vigorous activity. 

Paddling, generally fails to test higher levels of cardiovascular stress and therefore there is a great benefit in activities which raise heart rates beyond that which are generally reached within the canoe; such as running. 

Early development and learning of paddling techniques, will provide young paddlers with a sound base from which to build upon. It is important however, not to over emphasise specialization via over training on the water or via cross training activities, designed specifically only for the improvement of the paddlers performance. 

Variety is important and more especially during the pre-adolescent years. 

Amateur or elitist? 

To provide some guidelines as to the extremes of training regimes, blending aerobic and resistance, on and off water sessions, at a ratio of 60% on water and 40% off, fall within recommendations for youth development programs for elite Kayakers. The number of sessions, builds into a full time activity.

8-10 years 3-4 sessions per week
10-12 years 3-4 sessions per week
12-14 years 4-5 sessions per week
16-18 years 6-9 sessions per week
19+ years 10-20 sessions per week

Certainly at this stage in the development of outrigger canoeing or SUP, regimes of this nature (at the older age levels) would seem neither necessary or practical.

Most Clubs allow for 3-4 on water sessions per week, with occasional off water sessions. 

The concept of natural progression

As a coach you will need to consider the long term, big picture of the development of the paddler. Optimistically, you should consider that you are introducing your young paddlers to a sport which is as much a lifestyle as it is anything else.

 In developing paddlers we need to work through a natural progression which is positive and encouraging at every stage. 

Balancing ‘on’ and ‘off’ water sessions effectively

Sessions include a mix of ‘on’ and ‘off’ water sessions at a ratio of 60% water content and 40% dry land training. 

Factors limiting/enhancing success

Morphological Shape
Motor Abilities
Cardi-respiratory capacity
Motivation/Character
General health
Ability to tolerate stress and discipline
DNA / versus nurture
Financial situation of parents
Home 'situation'
Support or lack of support of parents 

Six Stages of a Development Plan

Early Preliminary Preparation
Preliminary Preparation
Initial Specialisation
Advanced Specialisation
Sporting Perfection
Maintenance

Special consideration needs to be given, but not restricted to;

Flat Water Safety and Risk Management
Open Water Safety and Risk Management
Physical Conditioning
Teaching Skills and Communication
Planning and Equipment
Introduction to Racing

Because there is a larger emphasis on acquistion of skills amongst junior age paddlers and a recreational approach, when planning your sessions take into account these important factors. 

Equipment failure through wear and tear or abuse

Junior age paddler's, natural high spirits and sometime lack of thought, can lead to unintentional‚ abuse of equipment. Constantly reinforce the need to respect all equipment at all times, both on and off water. 

Clothing requirements

The following clothing requirements are recommended for junior age paddlers and also recommended for adult age paddlers. 

Requirements relate to 'on' and 'off 'water activity. 
Hats Wide brimmed drill hats - 8cm brim width
Caps Peaked cap with Legionnaire style neck and ear drape
Shirt Elbow length, high neck line, tight weave UPF 50+ Fabric
Shorts Loose fit, long leg
Sunglasses AS107
Sunscreen Use of SPF30+ Sunscreen
Hydration and fuel

Junior age paddlers must be educated in the importance of eating and drinking appropriately in regards to training sessions, prior, during and after.

Many junior age paddlers have a high sugar intake, which can be detrimental to athletic performance.

This is characterised by over production of insulin in order to consume high blood sugar levels, spiked by high intake.

This is followed by hyperglycemia, low blood sugar, which leads to early onset of lethargy. High sugar drinks to be avoided in favour of water only. 

Selection and appropriate use of site

Shelter

Adequate shelter from harsh sunlight should be available, either natural or artificial. In the case of fabric shelters being provided at place of training or racing, it should be of tight woven fabric, 40-50+UPF. 

Guardianship

Junior age paddlers are particularly vulnerable and at risk, if left without the supervision of an adult on site. It is therefore essential that junior age coaches, are the first to arrive and the last to leave in order to act first and foremost as a guardian to their paddlers. 

It is highly recommended that you remain on site until all paddlers are collected by parents or other designated guardian. Do not leave juniors unattended. 

Physical condition of the paddler

Most normal children of normal weight and size, have a naturally high aerobic capacity and therefore this can be considered a reasonable expectation. Physical strength will be limited - avoid attempts to develop this outside of expected physiological capabilities relative to age. 

Swimming Test

Junior age paddlers should be able to swim 100m and tread water for a minimum of 5 minutes, which must be demonstrated to the coach. 

Group Management

It is recommended that group ratios, of coaches/assistant coaches in rela- tion to the coaching of juniors be increased proportionally to that of that of the coaching of adults as follows; 

On Land Sessions

There should always be a minimum of 2 coaches regardless of the number of pupils. Beyond 24 paddlers there should be the inclusion of an additional assistant coach and thereafter for each additional multiple of 12 (OC paddling related)

On Water Sessions(OC)

Beyond 4 canoes on water, there should be the inclusion of an assistant coach and thereafter for every 2 additional canoes. 

Junior age paddlers, must always be accompanied by a 'qualified' coach during on water sessions. 

Junior age paddlers require increased effort so far as Group Management is concerned in order to maintain group and individual safety. Behaviour problems present a greater challenge to the junior age coach and therefore more assistance is recommended. 

Content, Duration and Distance of Session

Ensure that the content of session is appropriate to the age group together with the duration and distance.

If a wide age group is present, you may need to separate on the basis of age and employ the use of an assistant. 

Care Prevention and Management of Injuries

Prevention is better than cure. No more so is this true than in the coaching of junior age paddlers. By nature, the high resistance nature of outrigger canoe paddling, stresses the body. 

Resistance training within the younger age groups should be avoided to prevent injury. See section on resistance training.

Developing good technique during the early years, plays a major role in preventing injury and through inappropriate use of biomechanics. 

Open water safety and risk management

It is recommended that junior age paddlers do not train more than 500m from the shoreline without the support of an appropriate support vessel meeting water authority requirements and capable of carrying 6 additional people.

PFDs, must also be available for each of the paddlers. 

Junior age paddler must be instructed in how to fit and wear a PFD. 

Ensure an appropriate progression from flat water to sheltered then open water, keeping safety a priority at all times. 

Physical conditioning

See section on aerobic/resistance training.

Junior age paddlers require special consideration in regards to their age group and physiological capacity. Lack of understanding of this very important factor, can lead to serious injury through inappropriate training regimes.

See sections which relate to Resistance and Aerobic training of juniors. 

Basic paddling skills (Seek specialists)

Capsize Drill(Oc)

Capsize and recovery of the canoe is an important and challenging aspect of junior training, particularly in the early age groups, where recovery of the canoe can be physically challenging. 

It is particularly important to implement Dry Land‚ capsize drill sessions in order to fully act out the scenario and the process of recovery. 

Lack of physical size and strength are limiting factors in recovery of a canoe and therefore this must be considered during on water capsize drills. Make sure these are carried out in flat, sheltered waters under strict guidance. 

Capsize drills should be practised frequently during the warmer months, once every two weeks. During colder months, ensure appropriate clothing is worn and that advance warning is given. Select appropriate days - practice dry land session if needs be, so as the drill is carried out once a month. 

Teaching skills and communication

Communicating effectively with junior age paddlers, from 8yrs through to 18yrs, presents a variety of challenges. 

Increased ratios of coaches to paddlers, becomes increasingly important in the coaching of junior age paddlers, in order that control is maintained for the safety of all concerned. 

Junior age paddlers, need to be kept actively engaged in learning. 

Maintaining control and retaining the concentration and attention of junior age paddlers is a skill which takes practice. Younger aged paddlers concentration span is limited.

A wide variety of coaching methods will need to be used, with a strong emphasis on a recreational tone - as against a more formal tone. 

Socialisation is a major factor governing childrens participation in sport, therefore aim to create a social, enjoyable, recreational atmosphere as part of your effectiveness in teaching skills and being effective in your communication. 

Planning See section on Resistance and Aerobic Training

Paddle Sizing

It is essential to correctly size paddles for junior age paddlers to prevent injury, optimise enjoyment and assist in the learning process.

Incorrectly sized paddles  - more especially oversized paddle length or blade width are all major concerns

This cannot be stressed enough and measures must be made to ensure a wide variety of paddle sizes are available in order to accommodate all age groups and physical size of paddlers. 

Introduction to racing

Special consideration needs to be given to junior age paddlers being introduced to racing. Race rules and protocol need to be introduced along with race strategies. It must be assumed that some paddlers may never have participated in competitive sport and therefore there needs to be some sensitivity towards this. 

Importantly, racing 'needs' in the junior divisions, continue to be centred on socialisation and a recreational approach and not so competitive so as to be stressful and unpleasant, creating high anxiety levels through over stressing the importance of victory.

Participation remains the ultimate benefit. 

IMPLEMENTING JUNIOR AGE RESISTANCE TRAINING PROGRAMS DEVELOPING ANAEROBIC CAPACITY

Resistance and the overcoming of it, is the essence of canoe paddling and it is this very resistance which can lead to over training and damage of young bodies. 

Improvements in strength gained via resistance training, benefits both pre-adolescent and adolescent children and assists the paddler to develop good technique and stability and increase bone density. Strength will increase relative to age and the nature of training.

 Strength training requires resistance, however the nature of the training, must centre around these identified age groups and the expected outcomes accounted for. 

Aims of introducing resistance training for youth of all ages is to

Improve general muscular strength and power
Muscular endurance
Sports performance
Strength and balance around joints
Injury prevention

Avoidance of physiological damagE

Resistance training is a particular facet of training which can very easily lead to physiological damage in young paddlers and if introduced too early, at too high a level of intensity. 

Avoiding early psychological damage

The unpleasantness of such sessions can lead to paddlers dropping out and add to the overall high attrition rate which is common to sports which can at times be physically painful which in turn leads to some degree of psychological pain.

This must be avoid more especially in the pre-adolescent ages. 

Early development of the aerobic system in preparation for later development of anaerobic capacity

Up until the onset of puberty, a child’s anaerobic power is limited by the fact that they do not possess the correct enzymes necessary to build strength. Limited improvement in anaerobic power can be expected, but it is strongly recommended that at such an early age, painful anaerobic/resistance training should be avoided in favour of developing their aerobic system. 

A developed aerobic system will assist later in the necessary physiology to deal with anaerobic training which will increase relative to the onset of puberty and with the nature of the training. 

Establishing resistance levels relative to age.

The ages of 9-13yrs and 14-16+yrs have been identified as significant pre- adolescent stages of maturation, which can be further broken down into age groups of 8-10yrs, 11-13yrs, 14-15yrs and 16+yrs in regards to the degree and the nature of ‘resistance’ training which can be undertaken safely by each age group. 

These ‘Levels’, varying from 1- 4 can be classified as follows; 

Level 1 [8-10yrs] 
Level 2 [11-13yrs] 
Level 3 [14-15yrs] 
Level 4 [16+yrs] 

These ‘levels’ are significant, providing a coach with definable age groups and a notion of differing levels of resistance work which can be undertaken. 

Developing resistance sessions

A Warm up is absolutely essential prior to resistance training, followed by a warm down and stretching at session end. 

Exercise needs to be ‘basic’ with little or no weight. Preferably, use only body weight exercises such as dips, chin ups, push ups and sit ups. This is especially true of the more junior aged junior paddlers - under 14yrs. 

Develop the concept of a training session and circuit system to develop cardio-respiratory strength and endurance. 

Any resistance training at this age must be low-volume.

Keep exercises simple and always ensure good technique. 

Ensure training of all upper body muscle groups - flexors and extensors. 

If weights used, develop personal training programs, ensure close supervision and avoid maximal or near maximal lifts and discourage any form of inter-individual strength competition. 

Initial programs must use light loads x high reps >15 x 2 - 3 reps.
Progress to heavier loads x lower reps >8 and moderate reps x 3- 4. 
Limit any such sessions to a maximum of 3 x per week. 

Resistance training Level 1
Pre-adolescents 8-10 years

During Level 1, it can be assumed no additional resistance training is required beyond the physical act of paddling the canoe, in this respect it is a passive approach. 

Within additional Levels, active and additional resistance training can be introduced incrementally - either within the canoe or via gym work. 

The mere act of paddling a 400lb+ canoe, plus paddlers body weight, is generally plenty enough resistance at this age. 

Any gym work must be fully supervised and whilst weights can be introduced, use of body weight is preferable. 

It is not the aim, to improve muscle size at this age, being that it is physiologically near impossible. Pain levels experienced would tend to shy paddlers away from participation. The aim is simply to improve strength.

Resistance training Level 2
Pre-adolescents 11-13 yrs

Maintain basic exercise techniques.
Progressively increase loads and introduce weights if not already.
Introduce advanced exercises with little or no resistance. 

Resistance training Level 3
Pre-adolescents 14-15 yrs

Introduce more advanced training programs and include sports specific components along with increased volume. 

Resistance training Level 4 Adolescents 16yrs+

Introduce adult strength program.
Psychological Considerations - Increased pain thresholds are expected.
Aerobic Endurance Training

Summary of expected outcomes of youth resistance training

Improved muscular strength and power
Minimal or no change in muscle size in pre-adolecsents
Improved local muscular endurance
Positive effect on overall body composition
Improved strength and balance around the joints
Improved prevention against sports injuries
Positive effect on sports performance

Summary of basic guidelines for resistance exercise training of pre-adolescents.

Encourage a variety of differing training activities
Discourage inter-individual competition
Discourage maximal or near-maximal lifting with free weights or with weight machine. 
Encourage a circuit system, moving between exercises. 
11-13yrs introduce weight training machines for youth. 
Always ensure expert supervision when weight training. 
Provide instruction in proper technique
Include warm up and stretching. 
Use body weight exercises
Individualise loads when using weights
Ensure all muscle groups, flexors and extensors are trained. 
Do not train more than 3 times per week. 
Ensure progression from light load, high repetition >15 and 2-3 sets; to heavier loads, less repetitions of 6-8 and of 3-4 sets. 
Cool down after training with stretching. 

Summary of resistance training levels for junior age paddlers.

PRE- ADOLESCENTS LEVEL 1
8 -10yrs

Introduce basic exercises without weights. 
Use body weight ‘type’ exercises. 
Develop concept of a training session. 
Keep to low volume. 
Ensure good technique and simple exercises. 

LEVEL 2
11-13yrs

Introduce basic weight exercises.
Progressively increase loads.
Introduce advanced exercises without resistance. 

ADOLESCENTS LEVEL 3
14-15yrs

Introduce advanced youth weight programs. 
Introduce ‘sport specific’ components. 
Increase volume. 

LEVEL 4
16yrs + Commence adult program. 

Important note

Be aware of variations of growth and maturity rates of children.

Chronological age and the actual physical appearance of children can be misleading.

Be aware of ‘growth spurt’ periods, 10.5yrs -12.5 in girls and 12.5 and 15yrs in boys. Girls are often as strong, if not stronger during a small phase of their development, which is worth consideration. 

Weight training in pre-adolecents, 8-10yrs in particular has little or no effect. Strength gains are small as androgenic hormones are not produced in sufficient amounts to permit hypertro- phy of the muscles. 

Resistance training should be limited therefore to use of body weight exercises; chin ups, dips, sit ups etc. 

AEROBIC ENDURANCE TRAINING

Aerobic capacity of junior age paddlers

As a general rule, most normal children of normal weight and size, exhibit a naturally high aerobic capacity. Studies have shown that this aerobic capacity does not increase relative to their increasing body mass. 

What this means is, that endurance training in pre-adolescent years, can show an increase in ‘performance’ but not in their VO2max.

By late puberty and into early adulthood, VO2 max increases along with aerobic capacity as a result of aerobic training. Aerobic endurance training therefore provides improved ‘performance’ from pre-adolescent age groups onwards. 

Aerobic endurance training
Levels 1 and 2

In order to increase aerobic capacity and efficiency, two age groups have been identified as significant maturation milestones, able to cope with differing levels of such training. 

Level 1 [9 -13yrs]
Level 2 [14-16yrs+]. 

Aerobic endurance training
Level 1 pre-adolescents 9-13yrs

The following is a guideline for coaches developing training sessions specifically for the purpose of improving aerobic endurance within this age range. 

Focus on ‘constant’ speed during any one training session at <70%.
Vary speeds only between sessions.
Focus on ‘volume’ [quantity] of training, not intensity.
Limit to 3 sessions per week. 

Be mindful that the benefits of aerobic endurance training can only be developed over time. Consider the particular maturity of each paddler. A major benefit of endurance training is that it assists in the development of skill acquisition through repetition and prepares the body for later anaerobic training.

Aerobic endurance training
Level 2 pre-adolescents -
adolescent 14yrs -16yrs+ 

Volume [quantity] of training can be increased.
Vary ‘speeds’ or degree of effort within the one session.
Develop ‘periodised’ sessions, balancing hard sessions with recovery sessions.
Training can be increased up to 4 times a week. 

Be mindful that the benefits of aerobic endurance training can only be developed over time. Consider the particular maturity of each paddler. A major benefit of endur- ance training is that it assists in the development of skill acquisition through repetition and prepares the body for later anaerobic training.

Aerobic endurance training
Level 2 pre-adolescents -
adolescent 14yrs -16yrs+

Volume [quantity] of training can be increased.
Vary ‘speeds’ or degree of effort within the one session.
Develop ‘periodised’ sessions, balancing hard sessions with recovery sessions.
Training can be increased up to 4 times a week. 

ACQUISITION OF SKILLS

What is good technique? 

The aim is to develop a mechanically efficient paddling technique, executed with consistency and fluidity, ‘appearing’ to the observer and ‘feeling’ to the paddler, natural smooth, intuitive and instinctual. 

In some cases, some junior paddlers display great strength and endurance beyond their years and on occasion these individuals are less receptive to technique training, often relying upon this brute strength to make up for poor technique. Logic dictates to them, that they are already out performing their peers, therefore any adjustment to any poor technique can seem superfluous. 

The main concern of poor technique is inefficiency and the development of biomechanical bad habits which can develop inappropriate muscle groups and in extreme cases, lead to injury. Early development of sound technique is considered as being of primary concern. 

Optimum age for learning 

Research has identified the optimum age at which to acquire and develop motor skills, falls between the ages of 9-12yrs. 

Training pre-adolescents at this age will guarantee acquisition of motor co-ordination skills faster than at any other age.

Being that the forward stroke is a biomechanical action requiring motor coordination, acquiring this skill at a time which coincides with the bodies peak neuro-muscular development - nerves controlling muscles - the best opportunity exists for permanent learning of these skills at this time. 

At this time, specific skills and abilities of speed and repetition of near identical biomechanical movements can best be learned as the result of continued improvement of coordination and flexibility as part of the maturation process. 

Poor technique learned during this age bracket, will be progressively harder to correct at a later age, yet is the best age at which to learn new technique. Varying rates of growth and maturation are often, but not always, self evident amongst youth paddlers. 

Differences in maturation rates 

 

A junior coaching strategy, must take into account development of ‘motor coordination’ within the various age ranges, especially as it applies to ‘technique’ training, which will take up a high proportion of the coaches development of their junior paddlers. 

Girls display faster rates of maturation and growth rates than do boys up to the age of puberty, often being stronger, but are soon overtaken by boys during puberty. 

Natural strength harnessed with sound technique will bring improvement through greater efficiency. Everyone benefits from technique training and whilst at a lower level of competition it may be possible to succeed with poor tech- nique, at higher levels, it is generally not. 

The coach as demonstrator 

The only weak link remains the coaches ability to coach and demonstrate sound technique and this should be of major concern as incorrect technique learned will be hard to correct, which perhaps highlights the need for junior coaches to be the best of technicians. 

In reality this is often far from the case. A coach needs to be able to demonstrate 'near' perfect technique and therefore be a role model for all their young paddlers. 

Provide facts with thought 

Continually stress importance of new skill being introduced.

Provide facts with thoughts by providing sound reasons supporting the need to learn a particular skill. Why will it improve their performance? 

Avoid being overly technical, accounting for their specific age group and cognitive abilities. Explain the benefits in performing the skill well and set realistic and achievable performance goals for the paddlers. 

Learning environment

Provide a noncompetitive, social atmosphere to lower anxiety levels and increase arousal levels, and therefore the capacity for concentration and learning. Develop your skills in judging your paddlers arousal levels - increase if too low, decrease if too high as either will hinder learning. 

Early preliminary phase 9-10yrs 

3-4 sessions per week.
Duration of 30-45 mins. 

Aims during these years are to; 
Develop an enjoyment for paddling.
Create a sense of belonging to the group.
Provide a non-competitive environment.
Nurture the beginnings of an endurance base.
Nurture within paddlers the need to train. 

During this time period, the coach needs to develop within paddlers the need for a structured approach to training sessions; warm up, stretching, pur- pose of session content and a warm down session. 

Preliminary preparation 10-12yrs 

3-4 sessions per week.
Duration 45-60 minutes. 

Aims during these years are to develop; 
Basic motor skills.
Co-ordination.
Flexibility.
Trunk muscles.
Endurance. 

Through the implementation of varied training sessions, the introduction of competition, greater technical evaluation, correction and development of gen- eral fitness, the above aims are to be achieved. The emphasis on fun must be maintained along with encouraging social interaction and a solid bond between the group. Ensure variety. 

Initial specialization 12-14yrs 

4-5 sessions per week.
Duration 45-60 mins. 

Aims during these years are to develop; 
Sound technique.
Strength endurance.
Aerobic endurance.
Speed of movement.

The implementation of continuous exercises both uniform and varied, mixed with some circuit training with an emphasis on light weights and good tech- nique, will contribute towards these aims. 

Over this time paddlers will begin to develop a greater attachment and genu- ine bond with outrigger canoeing on varied levels. During this time, the foundations are created for more profound levels of commitment to the sport, to training and success in competition. 

Ratios of water to land training based content, should remain at 60-40%. 

Initial Specialization 14-16yrs 

4-5 sessions per week.
Duration 75-90 mins. 

At this point it becomes increasingly important that paddlers in this age group are introduced and encouraged to participate in OC1 paddling or OC2 in the pursuit of improvement of paddle skills, fitness and general ability. 

Endurance paddling continues to be developed, varying paddling intensity between sessions, whilst strength training is developed ideally via strength endurance circuit training and technique for lifting maximal weights is devel- oped using weights of no more than 50-60% of the individuals maximal strength. 

General fitness levels and sports skills are continued to be developed through participation in varied sports activities which age groups of this range ordinarily participate within, whether it be surfing, swimming, running through soccer, rugby etc. 

There is of course always the opportunity for individuals with good athletic ability to join your club and become involved in your program. In particular the coaches biggest challenge will be in developing that individuals technique. 

Advanced Specialization 16-18yrs 

6- 9 sessions per week.
Duration 60-120 mins. 

Aims during these years are to develop; 
Technical mastery.
Maximal strength and speed.
Strength endurance.
Aerobic and anaerobic power and capacity. Competition performance. 

The implementation of continuous exercises both uniform and varied, mixed with some circuit training with an emphasis on light weights and good technique, will contribute towards these aims. 

Over this time paddlers will begin to develop a greater attachment and genu- ine bond with outrigger canoeing on varied levels. During this time, the foundations are created for more profound levels of commitment to the sport, to training and success in competition. 

Ratios of water to land training based content, should remain at 60-40%. 

Initial Specialization 14-16yrs 

4-5 sessions per week.
Duration 75-90 mins. 

At this point it becomes increasingly important that paddlers in this age group are introduced and encouraged to participate in OC1 paddling or OC2 in the pursuit of improvement of paddle skills, fitness and general ability. 

Endurance paddling continues to be developed, varying paddling intensity between sessions, whilst strength training is developed ideally via strength endurance circuit training and technique for lifting maximal weights is devel- oped using weights of no more than 50-60% of the individuals maximal strength. 

General fitness levels and sports skills are continued to be developed through participation in varied sports activities which age groups of this range ordinarily participate within, whether it be surfing, swimming, running through soccer, rugby etc. 

There is of course always the opportunity for individuals with good athletic ability to join your club and become involved in your program. In particular the coaches biggest challenge will be in developing that individuals technique. 

Advanced Specialization 16-18yrs 

6- 9 sessions per week.
Duration 60-120 mins. 

Aims during these years are to develop; 
Technical mastery.
Maximal strength and speed.
Strength endurance.
Aerobic and anaerobic power and capacity.
Competition performance. 

Throughout this stage, interval and repetitive training is used. Coaching is aimed towards perfection of technical mastery and the volume of specific train- ing increases, using long distance sessions as the basis for development. 

Maximal strength training can be introduced for the very first time, during the off season over a period of 4-6 weeks. 

Sporting perfection 19yrs + 

6- 9 sessions per week.
Duration 70-150 mins 

Aims during these years are to; 
Refinement of technical skills.
Increased specific strength endurance ability.
Increased aerobic power and capacity. 

From this point on the paddler can fully develop over time to adapt the rig- ours of high levels of adult competition. Whilst this is but a brief overview of some considerations which can be applied to the coaching of junior paddlers, the subject is far broader.

Just how you make your sessions more recreational and fun more especially when coaching younger age paddlers, is a skill in itself, which some will find natural, while others will struggle.

 

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© Steve West, Batini Books, Kanu Culture 2012