Up your Game . . . LEARN first, TEACH second!

A few weeks out of the year, I travel around to various parts of the United States and teach ACA kayak instructor courses.  This course is an extensive 3-5-day course that focuses on how to teach effectively, how to run your kayak school and how to demonstrate proper and safe technique.

Not only do these courses challenge you as an INSTRUCTOR, but it challenges you as a PADDLER . . . 

My first ACA course, as an upcoming instructor, I was in tears . . . literally in tears.  I had no prior professional instruction and I was challenged by executing proper technique (mostly because I didn’t know certain techniques were even a “thing” . . . Low brace?  What the heck was that?!?!?!).  

I literally thought about giving up kayaking after this course because my perception was that I sucked at it.  However, after receiving an ACA certification, I started on my teaching path.  For years I was uncomfortable delivering and explaining topics and I wasn’t 100% confident on my effectiveness of demonstrating proper technique; I found myself “hiding” in the back when I was around co-instructors so I didn’t have to speak up . . . but, I kept at it.  

Finally, after being “forced” (in a nice way of course) to be an instructor for many years, I found my groove and broke out of my shell.  And, now I’m excited to share my groove with upcoming instructors from all over the States . . . 

If you are wanting to “up your game” in the kayaking realm, consider two things:  

  1. Learning from a professional.
  1. Teaching a friend, shadow an instructor or become an instructor yourself.

Learning from a professional makes your progression quicker.  Trained kayak instructors have key points that help you understand and learn more effectively.  And, they have developed their critical eye to see specifically what you are doing (or not doing) to help improve your paddling efficiency and effectiveness.

Here’s where teaching comes in.  Once you have a few “tips and tricks” or you decide to shadow an experienced kayak instructor, you are forced to use effective teaching and paddling techniques that your students can understand.  And, over time . . . this demonstration (hence, practice) of proper paddling technique and effective teaching leads to better paddling and understanding for YOU!

The key to “upping your game” is learning and understanding the basics and then building on those basics with progressions . . . this is best and most effective if you seek out the proper instruction from trained and experienced instructors.  Then immerse YOURSELF in the game by practicing what you learn, applying what you learn and sharing that with others.

Happy Paddling,


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