Paddlesport Guidance for Coaches and Leaders

Tuesday 23rd June 2020


From Friday 12th June, coaching and leadership within outdoor sports can meet as a maximum group size of 10 (including coaches and leaders) where social distancing can be maintained. It is important to remember that this is not a return to normal operations, please follow the guidance below.

This means that coached and led activities can now take place, where paddling activity has had due diligence completed by the relevant and accountable person(s) including; covid risk assessments, mitigating procedures and information for co-workers and participants.

The Canoe Association of Northern Ireland welcomes that restrictions continue to be lifted and would like to thank all coaches and leaders for responding so responsibly during this lockdown period.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with documents issued by the NI Executive and Sport NI.

Our priority remains to protect the health of our members, volunteers and staff and help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

We recommend that members continue to follow the government and public health guidelines and to stay at home as much as possible. Anyone who is symptomatic or suspects they have been exposed to the virus must not take part and remain at home.

This guidance relates only to affiliated clubs in Northern Ireland, as policy and guidance in Scotland, Wales and England is subject to the devolved governments and their respective national governing bodies.

Considerations for coaches and leaders

The Canoe Association of Northern Ireland (CANI) has created guidance to support British Canoeing Qualified Coaches and Leaders and encourages that members continue to check both the Government and CANI websites on a regular basis for the latest information.

Qualified British Canoeing Coaches and Leaders have all undertaken specific training and a robust assessment and this provides confidence that qualified individuals have the appropriate experience, decision making skills and professional judgement to consider this guidance and take the appropriate measures to ensure the safety of paddlers. 

CANI suggest that all qualified coaches, leaders and instructors should follow the guidelines below:

Participants should be competent in the environment and able to self rescue. Coaches, Leaders and Providers should have mitigating procedures in place to reduce the likelihood of breaking social distancing. Paddles should only be planned where no rescues are likely to be needed and self rescue will be sufficient. This means that circumstances where rescues that break social distancing are likely should be avoided. Therefore we recommend at this step beginner/novice sessions should be avoided due to the difficulty of maintaining social distancing. Beginners’ sessions introduce the unknown elements of participant’s; water confidence, physical ability and boat control therefore it will be very difficult to have effective mitigating strategies in place to maintain social distancing. CANI is obliged to make the most reasonable interpretation of government guidance in the service of its members. To operate within the scope of the British Canoeing/CANI insurance, you must be following the NI Executive Guidance. If utilising independent insurance, check with your insurer. Organised activity can resume for up to 10 competent paddlers on the water at any one time including coaches/leaders maintaining social distancing. Multiple groups should not be on the water at the same time and in the same place. Sharing of equipment should be avoided where possible. If sharing equipment an equipment quarantining and/or rigorous cleaning process should be in place as per Health and Safety Recommendations and following equipment manufacturers instructions.

  • Complete a thorough Covid-19 risk assessment for all activity, taking into consideration the government guidelines and put in place appropriate measures to safeguard the paddler, coach or leader and members of the public
  • Consider the appropriate safety frameworks for the activity taking place, taking into account the capabilities of the individual paddler and the venue being used
  • Check with your insurance (not following Government guidance could invalid your insurance)
  • Within the risk assessment consider and put in place appropriate measures for safeguarding children, adults at risk and lone working
  • Any coaching of under 18s and adults at risk on a 1:1 basis should be avoided. The relaxation of the government guidance on social gatherings now means that group coaching or individual coaching with parent/carer supervision can now take place. Coaches are reminded of the principles of CANI’s safeguarding policy. 
  • Develop appropriate approaches to ensure that social distancing restrictions are followed as part of the coaching including within any pre briefings and post feedback sessions 
  • Continually consider and take action to minimise the risk of infection/transmission, such as avoiding passing any equipment to the paddler or helping lift their craft
  • Select venues and conditions where possible which are familiar to you and the paddler and to carry out continuous dynamic risk assessments that take social distancing into account 
  • Carry and wear appropriate safety equipment for you and the paddler. This may include buoyancy aids, a throwline, and a means to call for help and keep these available at all times
  • Ensure a first aid kit is available and understand the changes in guidance during this COVID-19 period
  • Minimise the use of borrowed or shared equipment and have equipment quarantining and/or cleaning procedures in place
  • If parents or guardians from the same household are present during the session then social distancing restrictions must also be applied around them
  • Ensure communication well in advance with the paddler, to make them aware of the measures being put in place for the session, and guidelines they should follow, before, during and after the session
  • You should also enforce strong hygiene measures. This might be cleaning any equipment rigorously in line with wider guidance on hygiene, for example by using antibacterial spray and washing hands thoroughly before and after use.