Long Term Paddler Development

The Long Term Paddler Development framework has been established based on the principles behind human growth and development, and maximises the opportunities this offers to the paddler. Dr Istvan Balyi, a Hungarian / Canadian coach, has drawn together a wealth of experience and research and developed ‘Long Term Athlete Development’ as a model upon which sports can base their athlete development strategies.

In 2004 British Canoeing worked to fine-tune the LTAD model to suit paddlesport and developed a Long Term Paddler Development (LTPD) Model.

The primary aims of Long Term Paddler Development, are to achieve:

  • Increasing enjoyment levels from the sport
  • More paddlers realising their dreams
  • More paddlers retained in the sport
  • More outstanding performances i.e. first descents, open crossings, medals etc.
  • Generally higher standards of performance

The model aims to provide a base of paddlesport and movement skills that will give an individual the opportunity to enjoy our sport to whatever level they choose, whether recreationally or high performance. It also aims to help deliverers provide the right opportunities at the right time, ensuring that paddlers are enjoying paddlesport and progressing at an optimal level.

The Long Term Paddler Development model supports paddlers from the day they first get into a boat, over a span of many years, providing a logical progression of programme planning and skill development from the young paddler to the experienced performer.

There are three key areas in the Long Term Paddler Development framework:

1. Foundation
Applicable to anyone starting out in paddlesport and split into three stages:

1.1 FUNdamentals

1.2 Paddlesport Start

1.3 Paddlesport Development

This phase is based on having fun and developing skill. This foundation of skill development and enjoyment, gives paddlers a base to progress either down the recreational or performance route depending upon their aspirations.

Optimal development requires an early start; ideally paddlers should be passing through these stages between the ages of about 5 and 13 years old. However the principles can be applied and be as equally beneficial for anyone in their first few years of paddling, whatever discipline, and whenever they start.

2. Recreational Paddlesport
Aims to give paddlers opportunity and skills to maximise their enjoyment and satisfaction from the sport to whatever level they desire. It is applicable to paddlers who wish to achieve personal goals in both the competitive and non-competitive disciplines, i.e. enjoy a surfing holiday, be able to paddle class 3, learn to cartwheel, be able to take the kids on a canoe camping trip, use paddling as a fitness session, get promoted to slalom division 2, or to enjoy regular trips on the local river. The Long Term Paddler Development model can be used as a goal setting and evaluation tool helping individuals and coaches to identify specific areas that need development in order to reach those personal goals.

3. Performance
Applicable to anyone wishing to maximise their potential. It applies equally to the competitive and non- competitive disciplines and is split into three stages:

3.1 Train to Train

3.2 Train to Perform

3.3 Train to Excel

Paddlers who come into this category include those with high aspirations in the competitive strands of paddlesport, but equally those wishing to pursue a recreational discipline to the highest level. For example, a solo sea kayaking expedition or a first descent.

At each stage of the LTPD pathway specific principles and guidelines for physical, psychological, technical, tactical and ancillary development are identified. Once competencies have been achieved at one level, they form the foundation for the next level. The model takes the paddler from basic to complex skills, from general to specific, and from beginner to expert. It considers what the paddler should be doing and when, providing the best possible programme to ensure individuals come into the sport, stay in the sport and achieve performances that reflect their potential/aspirations.