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My Journey to Performance Coach...

As some of you may have noticed I recently hit a huge landmark in my coaching pathway. That's right, I achieved my British Canoeing Performance Coach in Whitewater Canoe.

What does it all mean you say, well in the words of British Canoeing ‘The Performance Coach is aimed at experienced coaches who want to get better at coaching the paddlers they work with and for those who seek recognition that their delivery meets enhanced levels of sophistication.’

The journey was made up of mentor sessions, community of learning events, coach developer support, a philosophy task and final the practical coaching assessment.

My performance coach journey started out for a couple of reasons, one because I needed it in order to deliver other courses and two because I wanted to push on and do it for my clients and the female coaching population and three I thought it was best to finally put the degree I spent thousands of £’s on to good use.

My performance coach journey really has had me discovering more about myself with my coaching hat on. I've been understanding why I do what I do, as a coach, role model and paddler. During the mentor sessions I really started to discover a lot about me as a coach, how I got to be the coach I am and why/how I do what I do.

As part of my assessment I had to write my coaching philosophy, the toughest task ever! A coaching philosophy goes beyond the techniques and tactics we use in coaching, it’s all about the values, beliefs and passions that determine how you coach. For many of you who know me, know I’m not great at bigging myself up, or taking compliments, in fact I'm my own biggest critic so for me to start writing about what I do well was very difficult. I tried and failed so instead I opted to ask those who know best, my clients! I asked them for some buzz words about what kinda coach I am to help me create my philosophy. We went for the ‘if I was sitting on the shelf in Tesco's, why would you choose my coaching experience over the next one…’

This was a big deal because on completion the coaching philosophy would then be used to assess my practical coaching against what I believed my values and beliefs were as a coach. So after several drafts and a few tears later, I created this:

My aim is to deliver safe, inclusive and inspiring paddlesport coaching. I am committed to coaching and supporting each of my learners as individuals and adopting flexibility in response to their needs. I will use my experience and passion to empower my learners to achieve goals they once thought weren't possible.

By adopting a professional relationship it allows my learners to build a connection of trust with me. I will create a friendly atmosphere, inspire confidence and provide a supportive caring network where my learners can challenge themselves in a safe environment . The learners are at the heart of the process guiding me on their individual wants and needs in order to achieve success.”

So the big question was, why do I coach the way I do? How had these qualities, beliefs and values become mine?

During the mentor session we discovered this all arose from personal challenges in my journey to become a paddler and a coach. It all comes from years of trying to prove myself in the paddlesports world and driving forward to reach goals I was told I couldnt. I spent many years battling against the ‘old man’s club' approach to prove that female or not I was determined to make a good go of coaching in paddlesports. These days taught me many lessons about lack of support, inclusion and how those coaches had no understanding of individualized approaches and goals. So my supportive, inclusive and inspiring approaches have been adopted as a result of my early negative experiences. I have chosen to coach in a way that supports each and every paddler who wants to give it a go, regardless of gender, age, size, capabilities and any other barriers. As a result my coaching now benefits paddlers each and every day. My crappy experiences in my early paddling days have allowed me to go on to be the best coach I can be and have driven me to reach goals beyond what I was ever thought capable of.

I wanted to write this article about my performance coach journey just to say if i can do it, so can you. I often don’t give myself enough credit for the barriers I have passed and the goals I have reached in paddlesports but for what I lack in my own personal compliments I make up for in each and everyone of my clients who I support and take on and journeys to achieve goals they never thought possible.

My performance coach in whitewater has helped me recognise just how much my coaching impacts others. I haven't changed what I do, but this process has helped me understand me as a coach so much more and I've just had the hard work recognised on paper. Here’s to many more princess paddling clinics!

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