Men Coaching Women
These are some basic guidelines originally put together by a top Australian female paddler in order to outline some 'differences' between the sexes when coaching, together with some general coaching strategies.
a. Structurally / physically different to males.
b. Less upper body strength than males (major factor) development in this area required:
Strength and conditioning work (weights/circuit)
Paddling other craft eg. Ski,kayak,one man
c. Average new paddler may have little or no fitness base, this needs to be developed.
d. Look at the program from a wholistic viewpoint (and through a females eyes) what can be gained?
Fitness. Healthy lifestyle, healthy body. Achieving attainable goals. Friendships / social aspect. Teamwork (ability to work with others). Learning one's strengths and weaknesses (physical/emotional) and willingness to improve self to enhance the canoe.
e. Skill development – emphasis on correct technique and learning to focus on 'feeling the water' and 'canoe run'. Teaching paddlers to identify and feel when boat is running.
f. Supporting individuals through a program, being aware that everyone works differently. A good coach will learn to bring out the best in each paddler.
g. Workload will vary according to the 'base' a paddler has (beginners – lower volume compared to advanced – higher volume of work can be achieved. A fit women crew will work more intense than a beginner mens crew.
h. Women respond differently to calls in the canoe, the natural aggressive tone that some male crews use do not work best with females. Use technical cues to bring everyone in e.g.‘hit the catch’, ‘reach out’, ‘relax the shoulders’, ‘twist’, ‘work the changes’, etc.
h. Have racing schedule dates set out on paper, include selection criteria for races and be firm and fair in your decision making. If everybody knows well in advance and its on paper, things will be a lot easier for you down the track.
j. You will be more of a counsellor than a coach with a womens crew. Be willing to tune into what's happening within the group and be willing to take any necessary action ( a little understanding may be all it takes).
k. The emphasis is on creating a team that will support each other no matter what (help each other through the tough spots e.g. the end of a marathon race and everyone is knackered, a little bit of constructive talk and encouragement is the order here.) And as coach you can encourage these team building strategies.
a. Blades go in together, accelerate through water, work the front and the middle of the stroke, early exit,let the boat do the work in the recovery.
b. Paddler to get an understanding of boat run and know what it feels like.
c. Once we know what it feels like to have boat run, then we can consciously work on the individual components that will enhance it. Eg strength, applying power, rhythm, timing.
WORKING THE COMPONENTS
Gaining an understanding and feel for how the canoe moves in the water, going to the gym can take on a whole new meaning. Giving Paddlers a picture in their mind of what they are striving to achieve. All exercises can be related to the various phases of the stroke.
Bench pull, seated row, lat pull chin ups, back muscles which are used in the entry and pull phase.
Bench press, shoulder press pushups, dips, lat raise – for balance and shoulder strength endurance.
ABDOMINAL | STABILISER EXERCISES
Situps variety, swiss ball twisting - after locking on to the catch there is the push down with the top arm, the abs are locked on, the body is used.
How do we keep this strength and power up for a race?
As a coach, stress the importance of doing the things our body needs to cope with the paddling workload. Working the heart and lungs. Increasing Aerobic fitness base through cross-training. Training smart and having the bigger picture of looking after the body in all areas including adequate rest will make racing easier…..
Coaching Strategies Rhythm and Timing
Now this is the key, as a coach, you need to have clear concise cues so that if someone is out of time, call it and be specific, eg. 'early on the left', 'low recovery'.
Sometimes paddlers get frustrated in trying desperately to get it right. Get them to take the focus off self and put their attention fully out on someone in front. It allows them to take the pressure off themselves and be a little more relaxed so that the thing can happen without force.
Use the warm up and warm down to work on boat run, timing and smoothness. Practice at this low intensity time and it can then transfer into more high intensity work. In efforts, work on staying relaxed – breathing, relax the shoulders, let the bottom arm swing forward for the catch. Work the technical things, make the girls think – and all thinking of the same thing at the same time, rather than minds scattered all over the shop….(eg.next 2 changes – ‘lock on’) etc.