At what point in your paddling should you take instruction? And do you ever get too good for instruction?
Our approach to instruction is that the benefit is equivalent to the coaching an olympic-bound athlete receives. The emphasis is on fine-tuning technique, focusing on specific issues and improving confidence.
At the beginning level, the benefit of instruction comes in learning good technique from day one. Kayaking is a technique sport. You can teach yourself how to kayak enough to get down a river. But it is difficult to teach yourself technique. That necessitates feedback–and evaluation through coaching.
Muscle memory helps reinforce good technique. So if something is learned incorrectly, there is muscle memory developed to support that. It is much more difficult to unlearn bad muscle memory and relearn good muscle memory. Get good coaching from day one.
In addition, kayakers at the novice level often lack confidence (or they have lots of confidence and no good sense!). The quicker that confidence can be gained, the more fun the sport can be.
Once reaching the level of “experienced paddler”, much of the learning process comes from being out in your boat. Gaining experience. Oft times experienced boaters learn from us not that they were doing something “wrong” but that there is a more efficient way to do it; and/or just because it works for the friend who shared the information does not mean it is right or wrong, just that there is a better/more efficient way of approaching that part of boating.
But thinking that there is nothing left to learn means accepting where you are in your boating and not wanting to get any better. There is always something more to learn!
For a first-hand summary of the value of instruction from an experienced kayaker, check out Mary Mill’s thoughts on the worldkayak.com site.
As a group of instructors we spend time together trying to innovate and improve on how we present aspects of paddling in our instruction program. And at the same time, we look to learn things from each other that might improve our own paddling.
If olympic athletes have coaches, why shouldn’t we?