Performance Coach Development Weekend – Feb 2015

Performance Slalom Coach Weekend

At the end of January Craig Morris from British Canoeing came to coach and mentor Matthew McKnight who was himself coaching the CANI Slalom Squad for a weekend’s training. The Slalom squad was also joined by several club observers who also benefited from Craig’s visit.

Craig is the lead Podium Potential coach and works primarily with the K1 and C1 women. Craig joined us for both days training, working with both the Talent Squad and the Development Squad. Craig was particularly impressed with the commitment of all athletes over the weekend to their training, despite the adverse weather conditions which included snow, hail and gale force gusts. During the sessions he gave technical and tactical feedback to the athletes on the water.

“During the weekend I had the opportunity to ask Craig for his opinion on each athlete; he gave me critical feedback for each and also looked at each individual athlete and gave me advice on what to prioritize in their training in order to make the biggest difference later on in their career”
“Craig also gave me a lot of new ideas on how to use Shaw’s Bridge to its maximum potential. He also had a chat with the athletes and coaches and stressed the importance of training as a group so that everyone pushes each other but also helps to coach each other.
It has given me a lot of new ideas and given the squad a real boost after a hard winter’s training”

(Matthew McKnight Talent and Development Squad Coach)


From Banbridge Kayak and Canoe Club

Banbridge Kayak and Canoe Club would like to thank Craig Morris (Lead Coach for the Canoe Slalom Podium Potential Programme) and Matt McKnight (head coach) for the opportunity to observe their sessions over the two days.
Kevin McKernan – Junior Bladers Coach, gave us this summary.
“On Saturday we observed the NI Slalom Talent Squad, they were returning to fundamental skills which lent itself to bank based coaching. In the welcome shelter of the boat house, we were able to listen to how Matt & Craig gave their feedback to the individual paddlers. Also the importance for a Coach/Volunteer changing their viewing position to observe the paddler; thankfully in the shelter of the boat house was perfect, the gale force winds and snow had nothing to do with that decision.

On Sunday (no change in the weather) we spent a little time at the boat house as the development squad warmed up then on to the course; we watched how Matt built up individual paddlers over the course of the day as they tackled high crosses and “S” gates.
Over the two days we picked up a lot of coaching tips, common faults and fixes that Clive and myself brought back to Banbridge Kayak & Canoe Club. We incorporated these tips into our “Junior Bladers” sessions on a Monday night, the next week we brought four novice paddlers to the “Irish Canoe Slalom” at Shaw’s Bridge; one of our junior paddlers won a bronze in the Junior Div3, well done Sam!

The weather conditions were to say the least challenging but in spite of that I’m sure everyone was able to put something in their “Coaching toolbox”. Again I would like to thank Craig and Matt for passing on some their knowledge to us and hope there are more opportunities to develop slalom.”

(Kevin McKernan – Junior Bladers Coach)

Performance Sprint Coach Weekend

Braving the sideways sleet and snow a welcomed coaching development weekend kicked off, thankfully in doors! In the warmth we began our workshop in hope that the sun would shine for the next session.

It was a real privilege and vital for our development as coaches to have Ian Wynne, past Olympic medalist and coach to share his thoughts and glean from his experience in working with the U23 men in GB.

With the company of some new and some not so new to Canoe Sprint, the morning session kicked off with some back to basics sprint techniques.
The development squad all took turns, on the ergo machine for the coaches to observe and analyse their technique. It wasn’t long before the session became an excellent workshop of demonstration questions and answers solidifying a lot of thoughts by the coaches.

We moved outside when a spell of sunshine announced a break in the weather. Onto the water went the athletes and this gave the coaches the opportunity to put into practice the previous session.

Through the session with the coaches, Ian reinforced where the athlete placed the blade (set up and catch) making sure the blade was locked on the water and the boat was driven past the paddle rather than the paddle passing the boat.

After some heavy sleet and snow showers along with a few swims from the athletes we all headed indoors to warm up and have some lunch.

In the afternoon session Ian had us do some video analysis where we took various video footage of the athletes. From the footage we looked at the setup, locking the blade, driving past the blade into the recovery in real time and in slow motion. This was then compared with good footage of what it looks like when the blade is locked in the water and discussed aids to help promote proper technique.

A qreat day had by all.

Sunday morning awoke to a nice layer of snow on the ground but blue sky’s for as far as the eye could see and no wind, a perfect day to put our talent athletes through their paces and have our coaching and thought process critiqued.

Ian’s keen eye was quick to spot ways to improve the transition of power from the footplate to the blade, to engage the legs more and increase rotation from the hips creating more power, more power equals, exactly, more speed.

It was a gruelling but excellent session but with the good weather the time flew past.

In the afternoon session we analysed the video footage of the athletes in slow motion, this was excellent for focusing the observation. This allowed us to pick out key issues like;
miss timing of pressure on the footplate and engaging of trunk rotation. From this we discussed how to create training drills to work on these areas.

Discussion ran long, getting into the nitty gritty details of developing training plans using speed/distance curves and how to periodise the curve depending on the time of the season.

A long week end but well worth it, vital information and feed back to help us build and shape the champions of tomorrow.

Ian was an excellent mentor/coach and I look forward to continued contact via emails and conference to dig out the hidden gems of his experience.

A week end summed up ‘Nulli Secundus’

(Ray Sweetlove – Sprint Development and Talent Squad Coach)

From Erne Paddlers

Trevor Foster – Junior Bladers Coach at Erne Paddlers told us –

“The Castle Island canoe centre at Enniskillen was the venue for a weekend of coaching for the Erne Paddlers Junior Bladers and CANI sprint squad coaches. Ian Wynne was along to give of his experience and expertise; he is the British men’s 1000m sprint team coach and a Bronze medallist at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

The Junior Bladers coaches had opportunity to be observed by Ian, gain his input at current methodology of introducing sessions, observing forward paddling, looking at technical detail, giving analysis and feedback and tips for getting the best out of the paddlers. Not only was it a time for these coaches to get tuition, but also the Junior Bladers and CANI squad themselves to receive coaching as they begin training for the incoming season.

Saturday morning began with sessions looking at ergo machines and the benefit and limitations of using them, transfer of power through paddle strokes, use of top hand to control and guide the paddle and blade, the use of the bottom hand for fixing the paddle in the water and reducing paddle slippage. After lunch of hot dogs and soup, more discussion followed with watching videos of some of the top paddlers and analysing their paddling styles. The rest of the afternoon was spent on the water. Conditions were quite windy for a few new beginners to K boats, this was an opportunity to look at stability exercises. For those who had been paddling for a while, coaches spent time looking at ‘spearing the fish’ as the paddle is planted, getting that early exit to reduce drag of the paddle, and engaging the core with more body rotation and looking for those fractions that make the difference for the top paddlers.

On a calm, cold and Sunday morning, the more experienced CANI sprint squad had their paddling finely examined with video analysis with some very good phone apps as well as the more observing eye of Ian. Lunchtime was a question and answer session, followed by a look at exercises to engage and strengthen the muscles when at home or in the gym. As coaches of the Junior Bladers the weekend was very informative with insights to the finer technical detail of things to look out for to improve efficiency in strokes and gain the edge in the sprint competition. The Juniors Bladers training continues with ‘Boxercise’ on Wednesday nights as well as on the water sessions at weekends. For more information on Junior Bladers email”

(Trevor Foster – Junior Bladers Coach)

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