My Coaching Process Model Presentation Slides

Recently amongst other things I attended the British Canoeing Coaching Conference in Bedford.  During which I delivered a morning workshop about developing your own Coaching Process Model.  Here is a link to the slides: CP Model

my coaching process Model

In a recent assignment for a Masters in Performance Coaching I was requested to develop a model of my coaching, which focuses on BCU type short 2 day courses and the episodic nature of these sessions. See below

My Coaching Process Model
Earlier in the semester I was challenged to construct out coaching role frame, in essence the boundaries in which I coach. Looking back to Figure 1, and as I construct the coaching model within that role frame, the complexes of the coaching process, coupled with the influence of the playing space and management of the environmental risks. Traditional sports are set by fixed boundaries and sets of game rules that defined the playing space.

Coaching Role Frame

Figure 1: My Coaching Role Frame

For white water kayaking, there is of course a physical boundary, yet the nature of the down river flow, means the show is always on the move, and as such the safety scope of coaching practice has considerable bearing on the coaching process. Risk management is of prime importance, especially as the coaching I undertake is normally on Class IV or more, on a difficult scale of I to VI with Class VI considered the limit of possibility. And although through implicitly managing the descent of the river, controlling outcomes is highly challenging when so much contributes to a successful descent. I attempt to orchestrate coaching venues to control the variables that directly affect the athlete, yet I can not be the captain of their ship, and as such minor mistakes in such a dynamic environment leads to occasional interventions. The personal inter play between the athlete and coach, has considerable context in the coaching process, shaping and forming outcomes, that may not been apparent in the initial goal setting.

As much of the coaching practice is in principle problem solving, with a considerable environmental influence, the core of my coaching process model is based on Fair (1987). The short term episodic nature of the mainstay of my coaching, centres on both technical or tactic issues where the environment plays a significant part in each element of the coaching process. As such in Figure 2, the environment is both the boundary of the framework and a main contributor. Session’s framed by the students upfront aspirations, which allows the coach to set a task, based on reflective practice of previous solutions to similar athlete wants. Where the student wishes to go in terms of river or rapid selection, is often a main contributing factor as to what they wish to do. Within the UK’s temperate climate, the conditions for white water kayaking are not always abundant, students may wish for near ideal conditions, which in turn may prove challenging to get the session(s) off the ground in the first place.


Figure 2: Episodic White Water Kayaking Coaching Progress Model

Once the wants of the student have been presented and framed, similar sessions may be recalled to offer a set of tasks, again the environment conditions, will heavily influence as to where and what coaching venues are on offer and whether the students aspiration can even be met at such locations. Given the common episodic nature of the mainstay of short course white water kayak coaching, the initial tasks may test the athlete’s fundamentals rather than directly address their demands, as is often the case the coach may not of observed these student(s) before hand. Once the session is underway, the task is set, explanations of the rivers topography are given along with a demonstration. White water kayaking is made up a set of principal skills that blend both tactics and technique together, whilst descending down river. In the main, these skills are straight forward, yet the understanding of both gravity’s role and kayak/paddler’s momentum is often significant hurdle with the comprehension of what needs to be done. Hence the requirement for demonstrations, in addition to being the coach that is also in a kayak, the coaches other role is that of front line safety. Being a bank based coach, can work at selected coaching venues, yet it does not mean that all the possible rescue scenarios can be easily executed.

From the task, the coach can observe and analysis the athlete performance, and measure this against what should be happening. A rudimentary model of the skill’s application, should frame the performance analysis. Questioning of the student, may provide wider clarity of what they attempted to do, and their perception of what they actually did. This helps shape the feedback and the coaching comprehension of whether the student understands both the nature of the task, the elements at play to execute the task and the river environment in play. Awareness of specifics within the river environment is a key contributions to the feedback, and subsequence goal setting. Communicating the changes required to alter the performance, directly govern the coaching style applied, and may in turn change the student’s initial aims.

‘Good Practice’ can be admirably framed as anything that brings about repeatable consistent results. A students and coaches reflection and review sessions, can aid the changing of performance and be of benefit in the next session. The cyclical nature of the model, allows the setting of Practice Structure, which is important if the student is able to perform in an adapted manner in a changeable and variable environment. This can of course be challenging if the available resource, has limited venues, even more so when the river trip is linear in nature. And can often give the appearance that sessions may be delivered off the hoof, even the fine balancing acts of providing added value and a successful descent, may mean the pace and timing of the practise structure are morphed and applied at the appropriate venues, and not necessarily at the desirable moments.

Within the available literature there is little research in adventure sports coaching, and certainly no coaching process model on offer for white water kayaking. Cushion, Armour & Jones (2006) proposed that the coaching process is a dynamic activity which has at its core the environment, the student, the coach and the contextual relationships of all of these, rather than something which is delivered. There are several flaws in the model in Figure 2, the most noticeable is the lack of scope for longer term development, the short session focused cycling of the coaching process, lends little to developmental performance coaching. Unfortunately this is the nature of the market place at present, students budgets mean they search for quick fixes, tips if it were, to step on from the plateau they find themselves on.

There is little doubt, “A fundamental problem with coaching knowledge so far, and its accompanying ‘models’ approach, is that knowledge producers have not taken the time to adequately acknowledge and explore the complex nature of coaching before developing general explanations of and recommendations for ‘good practice’ (Strean, 1998). Oversimplification of the phenomenon and over-precision of prescriptions is the unfortunate price paid”, Jones & Wallace (2005). And although the coaching process model presented is based on episodic coaching sessions, the inputs and environment considerations could be of value to the community of white water kayaking coaches. Yet “coaches learn to live with the ambiguity inherent in coaching, and so render it relatively manageable.” Jones & Wallace (2005) and whilst the market place remains quick fix hungry, whether rightly or wrongly, there is little desire or worth to over-conceptualise coaching process for white water kayaking.

Chelladurai, P. (1993) Leadership, in: R. N. Singer, M. Murphy & L. K. Tennant (Eds) Handbook of research on sport psychology (New York, Macmillan), 647–671.
Côte ́, J., Salmela, J., Trudel, P., Baria, A. & Russell, S. (1995). The coaching model: a grounded assessment of expert gymnastic coaches’ knowledge, Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(1), 1-17.
Cushion, C.J., (2007). Modelling the Complexity of the Coaching Process: a Commentary – International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching – 2(4), 395-401, Brewer, B. pp. 411-413. Gilbert, W. pp. 417-418. Mallett, C. pp. 419-421.
Cushion, C.J., Armour, K.M., & Jones, R.L., (2006). Locating the coaching process in practice: models ‘for’ and ‘of’ coaching, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 11:01, 83-99.
Fairs, J. R. (1987). The coaching process: the essence of coaching, Sports Coach, 11(1), 17–19.
Franks, I., Sinclair, G., Thomson, W. & Goodman, D. (1986) Analysis of the coaching process, Science, Periodical, Research Technology and Sport, 1, 1–12 (January).
Lyle,J. (2002). Sports Coaching Concepts: A Framework for coaches’ behaviour. London: Routledge.
Jones, R.L. & Wallace, M., (2005). Another bad day at the training ground- coping with ambiguity in the coaching context. Sport, Education and Society, 10 (1), 119-134.
Jones, R.L. & Wallace, M., (2006) The coach as ‘orchestrator’, in: Jones, R.L. The sports coach as educator: reconceptualising sports coaching. London: Routledge.
Mageau, G.A., & Vallerand, R.J. (2003). The coach-athlete relationship: A motivational model. Journal of Sport Sciences, 21, 883-904.
Mallett ,C. J. (2005). Self-Determination Theory- A Case Study of Evidence-Based Coaching. The Sport Psychologist, 2005, 19, 417-429
Smoll, F.L., & Smith, R.E. (1989). Leadership behaviors in sport: A theoretical model and
research paradigm. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 19, 1522-1551.
Strean, W. (1998). Possibilities for qualitative research in sports psychology, The Sport Psychologist, 12, 333/345.

Devon Life

Upper Dart

As autumn rolls on, the space between the summer’s excesses and winter work speeds on and on. When it’s time, I head back for some Devon life on Dartmoor. My normal residence at the River Dart Country Park starts in late October, with weeks of courses, lots of demand for performance coaching. All this relies on the autumn rains, sometimes it comes and other times its spare, its the luck of the draw. My visits are in batches, the first of which it was wet, and the days on the river were great, all mainly work, but I got in a West Dart, Erme and East Okement outside coaching. Check out my autumn colours too, that Palm FXr PFD is just so, so fine.
sunrise in the forest
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –
autumn run away
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –

When the rain does not come, the weather is dry, clean and bright at times, a phenomena known as northern blocking, means its colder days but dry. Not ideal for the work, I even had to postpone some for January, which is leaving 60+ paddlers in 16 days on the river to a tight schedule. Alas only work for me in the New Year. At least I have the southern summer to enjoy soon after. More of that next time. The family joined me in Devon for the second trip, and the little lady enjoyed country walks and farm animals, granny came to visit and all in all it was wonderful.

Satu biking
Cardingham Cafe
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –

With the dry days, my attentions turn to biking, as the UK has some of the best enduro style trails around. Satu enjoyed too, and the new routes at Cardinham Forest and the Woodlands Cafe, in Cornwall are excellent. Certainly worth a visit, and I have already been back several times on the bike trails. Normally I hit Haldon Forest Park as it’s local, but for me Cardinham is a better spot, bigger trails and longer rides, on what is excellent flowing tracks.

Totnes Christmas Market
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –

Another Devon highlight on the run up to Christmas is the Totnes Night Market. Totnes’s main street, called Fore Street is full of local businesses, and during the night market, the whole place is full of addiitonal stalls with local fare and great gifts too. The toy shop had a bubble machine and the little lady was over joyed at the spectacle.

Autumn road Trips

Van on Strynefjellsvegen

After the arrival of the little man, we headed for a west coast road trip in the van. In September high on the fjell, the autumn colours come fast. We went from Øyer, through Sjoa and over the Strynefjellsvegen to Hoddevik. In Sjoa we visited the raspberry patches at the Sjoa Kayak Camp, a perfect spot for the little lady to have a mini adventure on here bike and an easy picking prizes or 10 for her efforts. The Strynefjellsvegen, is one of the Norway National Route’s, the historical way from interior to the coast. Well above the tree line, and pass the summer ski hill of Stryn. In September there was absolutely no snow left, in fact there was no snow at all. Later I found out that the hip closed in June, which for a summer location is very early. Th glacier is retreating a some pace in recent years.

Hoddevik from the pass

Out along the fjords and some, we finally ended at Hoddevik, the end of the road, literally, with a surf beach, with no surf awaited. Still we found some fun with the little lady’s new bike and long boards from the surf school accommodation. We did a night of car camping too, fresh crabs and an autumn storm to keep the Äiti (Finnish for mother) concerned the high sided van would be blown over. All good fun. A short trip, but a trial experiment with the kids for the October mission to Ireland.

Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –
biker girl
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –
long boarding with the girl
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –

After the wets coast, I headed to Paddle Expo, but first Slovenia to closed down the season for Gene17. A few days on the river, and the train to Nürnberg across the Alps. I like that trip, on the German ICE train feeling like high speed easy travelling. At Paddle Expo, working for Palm, lots of new stuff on their stand, little else where, a quiet year of few new releases. The Pyranha Burn III looks a fine improvement, a cool drysuit from Sweet and interesting new paddles from AT. I picked up the Werner Ovation, a touring paddle, it was the most perfect paddle I have ever seen, when air paddling, you can feel the air resistance, no other paddle, I have touched offers that experience, as the material swing weight is more significant. After Paddle Expo, I dropped into the Sickline in Ötztal, I had not been back since the first event, and what progress, excellent stuff, a great atmosphere in town too. I got to paddle with Olli Grau & Matze, with all borrowed gear on the Middle Ötz, great fun, I wish I could paddle more often these days with these boys, next year, next year.

Sickline 2013

From Sickline, I flew to Dublin to meet the family android trio to northern Ireland and around to Galway. I had never been north of the border in Ireland, the frontier did not exist, in fact there was not even a sign, to mark the location. We headed to County Antrim, home to Dark Hedges and the Giant’s Causeway. For my lady’s rocketing side job as a travel blogger, we enjoyed the off season e=delights of these tourist attractions, along with see some Game of Thrones filming too. This part of the world, like so many parts on that land mass, is wonderful. It was certainly odd when driving through a few spots with curb stones painted red, white and blue, but those signs aside, it was not at all easy to tell much difference between the two parts of the island.
Dark Hedges
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –
gaints causeway
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –
carrying my girl
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –

On from County Antrim, we went to Sligo Strand, and stayed near the beach. I got to do some biking, as the surf was not inviting, and Satu did some SUP on a river near by. We meet friends along the way near Easkey and in Galway, and simply enjoyed having the new addition and letting the autumn roll by. It was certainly ace to lessen the pace after what had been a go go go kind of year.

surfers lots of them
Image Satu Vänskä-Westgarth –

summer and the coming of the little man

Simon on Mickey Mouse

Yes, you have got it, it’s the end of year, and my blog is miles be hide, as normal, but here goes. Summer is full of fun, and the Mikey Mouse run in Valldal is a perfect moment in that summer’s fun. Since 1996, I have been coming to Norway, and now stay longer longer, moving permanently is only a matter of time. The great days of the summer, means I can really enjoy the paddling, and Valldal is a perfect destination, a little more creeking in style and a grander looking destination than Sjoa, with the fjell dropping down to the fjords. En route to runs like the Mickey Mouse, is the Ramua, mini-hucka on the upper section is a great highlight, with a simply 5m boof followed by a classic ferry and hold the line move to a late boof into a huge pool, spectacular to paddle and wonderful to watch. Once in Valldal, there is the famed Mickey Mouse run, with its great slide combos, one of which is “fight club”, and the first rule of fight club, is that you do not talk about it.

Blue angle on Mickey Mouse
Jakub on Upper Rauma

Once back in Sjoa, we work a lot on Ula, and I get to really break down the mechanics of paddlers movements and the technique needs to pull off the moves, plus I also get to paddle myself. This autumn I have started a Masters at Stirling in Scotland in Performance Coaching, interesting stuff, but more of that another time. Still the recent module on performance analysis, certainly frames the level of observation and comprehension of movement we do on the river to that academic level, as I said it’s interesting stuff.

Working on Ula
Show man

A summer highlight is the Gene17 Ula Extreme Race, during the Sjoa River Festival, and for 2013 it was a vintage year. 25˚C+, blue bird conditions and perfect water levels. We have some of the best on the world rock up to race, and some new faces too. The atmosphere on the event, and tightness of the competition, gave a heighten delight for myself. Next year is the 19th Sjoa River Festival, and this event has come a long way, I have gone to every one of them, always helped out, but for the last 5 years, have been running the event with the local kayak shop, Strie Strømmer. We moved the whole event up to Heidal from it’s normal location of the Sjoa Kayak Camp, as spring floods had knocked out the road access down there. A new mass start event, lamb BBQ and Saturday night band, gave this normal river side gather more of a festival feel.

Jakub's sister Lucie at the Ula Race
Little Haley Mills chraging at Ula
Finish line at the Gene17 Ula Race
Gene17 Ula Race 2013

I managed to get a cover shot on a Palm ad too, with the 2013 Palm Fuse Freeride top colours, that match my custom colour boat from Dagger Europe. I have always liked orange, but am taking it to much more than a banner colour. The new Palm FXr PFD for 2014 is of course Sherbet Orange too….I wonder if I have any influence on that. Also in the summer, a paddler from Devon whom I have been coaching, Tom Rainey made the front cover of Kayak Session, with a great image from Oregon. Tom required a lot of tactic input, with technique centring on his forward paddling, a typical situation, where taller paddlers often over use their arms, due to natural reach, rather than combine the movement with their torso and shoulder rotation. In the summer Tom moved to Voss and has been charging ever since, great news indeed.

Palm Equipment Fuse FreeRide top Ad summer 2013
Kayak Session Cover shot

In spite of a full spring into summer, busy, very busy indeed, the highlight of the year was the coming of the little man. Onni arrived in fine form, and has play the part of a growing baby rather well ever since. Now with a girl and a boy in the house, the siring part of fatherhood is over, 2 is surely enough. Whilst waiting for the boy, I managed to enjoy extended days out at Hafjell Bike Park, and enjoyed the free ride biking, what a great way to pass the time, life up, jump after jump, after berm after jump all the way down.

the little man's first day out

Tomorrow or next week, I’ll post about September!

Late, but here, Spring 2013

Sorba Slides in the sun

As the title suggests spring across western Europe was very late this year, almost a month be hide normal, which meant we had cold dry days in Valsesia for May. The snow only finally started to melt late in the month. The runoff was a strange pattern of occasional rain storms bringing higher water for a day or so, and then levels dropping off with every cold night with clear skies. This cycle pretty much went on and on all month. This meant that although flows were Ok to good, there was always a sense that we were waiting, and waiting. Thankfully in the late week or so, then into June, the warm weather finally brought the goods and for those heading out to the Alps in June were surely very surprised with fine Piemonte and Ticino conditions.

Coaching on the Gronda
Gronda reflection on paddling

The steep creeking weeks in Piemonte are getting incredibly popular, Gene17 now runs 3 weeks of trips, plus the Valsesia River Festival. Valsesia is an iconic destination, and we all love working there for the quality of paddling and fine food and local culture. The work focuses heavily on the technical aspects of paddling on drops and slides. This can mean actually getting right to the drop, and helping with the tactics, to ensure the paddlers are in the right place to apply the technique. We use a lot multi shot stills images for feedback, as it’s possible to zoom into the specific areas for detailed observations. Jakub got a great shot however of myself running the last drop of Gronda being reflected in a window of a traditional river side house in Rassa, Valsesia, nice!

Ed & Kates wedding party

A short intermission, was a weekend in the UK for a wedding party with the family. We headed to Topsham near Exeter, for a blustery affair. The short boat crossing to Double Locks had the ladies in their finery shivering in the stiff breeze. Still once in the amazingly decked out party tent, with its open fire, a great time was had. Old friends from a far mixed in with the Devonshire locals, an excellent wedding occasion at a shunning location on the Exe estuary. The weekend was all too short, as I needed to get back to work in Italy, and an early morning train stole me away.

Boys having fun on Gronda
Start ramp at the Sweet Rumble

More kayak coaching work and then the Valsesia River Festival, now in its third year, with momentum now gathering to create a well established event in Italy. Dealing with local politicians is every bit like you’d probably think it would be like, in Italy, boringly problematic, especially compared to my Sjoa in Norway experiences. Still with a great partner in the event in the form of il Gatto e la Volpe Camping, I do not really need to concern myself with the frustrations of the local mayor. Over 100 paddlers took part in our race programme, with the team race being the most popular. Teams of 3 charge the Sesia Alpin Sprint, a classic Class III/IV boulder garden section, fun lines and lots of moves to enjoy. Gene17kayaking runs clinics during the week, which are popular and provide a great taster of what we do.

The little ones first sea kayak trip on the home lake

After the chaos that is the Valsesia pack down, Soča turn around and then the long road north to Norway, all in a week, I was happy to be at home for a few weeks before the summer starts in Sjoa. These days I spent a lot of time with the little lady, and we managed a sea kayak outing with friends on the lake at Lillehammer. My daughter would help with the paddle strokes, we stopped for a classic summer grill en route and afterwards she was very happy to get back in the boat again, to my relief.

Corsica – a once in a generation Season

Beware to stay on the path in Corsica!

Spring, for many paddlers is about dusting off their gear after a winter of frozen rivers for early melt waters to wash away the forgot dreams of last season’s fun. A re-connection to the source of great enjoyment, as the river awakens so does all around, flower bloom and tree rapidly leaf into glorious early green tones. Everything is exciting and fresh to experience and to enjoy. None more so than a river for kayaking on, and the wonderful translucent blue water of the Soča in Slovenia, brings the very best spring wake up I can ever recall. Year after year I return, well before the summer crowds turn this pristine river into a summer fun traffic highway of rafts, duckies and all. I go to start the season, and every year the Soča delivers, it’s simply perfect to open up the arms, reach for the strokes and ride the whitewater again like it was once a forgotten memory of yesteryear.

As soon as the arms were charged and brain focused, Corsica for the frist time in a long while called. A once in a generation snow pack awaited. Corsica famed for its fickle conditions of low snow and little rain during most April’s has been for many a paddler a difficult destination to enjoy time and time again. Thankfully these days with online everything, we can see the snow pack conditions and weather forecasts, to form a fair opinion as to what awaits us, rather than the old turn up and hope approach of the present. The drive from Slovenia, heads through some of Italy’s finest tourist locations, Venice, Bologna, Florence and Pisa, but these were only signposts along the way to Livorno, the ferry port to the fabled isle beyond the horizon.

For myself on the first crossing arriving at dawn to Corsica many years ago, the mountainous island with its granite towers somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean was snow capped, shrouded in clouds, looked almost mythical, like Tolken’s elfish kingdom beyond the sea. Upon arrival the pristine nature and fantastic whitewater added to the whole unique appeal of this far away destination. After the first time I had been back a few more times, these visits were blighted with low water, so when for the first time in a while, the winters had delivered it was time to clear the diary and head to Corsica.

Cafe at Col De Bavella

Gene17 had a trip planned to co-inside with the Kayak Session event, to ensure we got a great off the water atmosphere to go with the great water conditions that were aplenty this spring. With paddlers coming in from Russia, Germany and the USA, it made for a great mix, with Jakub from Czech heading up the trip and myself along for the very pleasant ride. The days were almost completely without clouds and the sun played its part rather well.

Jakub on the Travo
On the Upper Asco
More Upper Asco
Codi waterfall
Even the smallest seed can grow into powerful trees

After a great week there, it was time for me to head back to Slovenia, before Valsesia called. Sadly my Lifeproof case failed leaving my iphone ibricked. A quick trip to the Apple Store in Florence, and I had a new iphone to go on with. Lifeproof however has been far from helpful with their warranty, they do not cover the loss of electronic they claim their cases protect. A fine looking product, but not up to the job. In and out of Soča to unpack and repack, the road west across northern Italy opened up to Valsesia. I managed to get in a run with Italian friends and a run on one of the Strua’s near Lanzo. Check out Beppe launching his Stomper with Steve watching on, perfect.

Strua de Grande with the Italians

I headed soon to England for a weekend wedding in Devon, and fine affair, sadly a very short visit, but wonderful to share a great day with good friends, many from very far away. I got to enjoy beautiful times with Satu and the little one, and Granny had a great time too. A sign of my good health is that I can still fit into my wedding suit, thankfully.

Ed & Kates Wedding
the little one swinging in weston woods

En route back from Malpensa Airport, you cross paddy fields ready for the risotto dishes to come, a strange site for Piemonte, as I am so used to the mountains and granite builds. These grand grange houses were made of brick, more Lombardia than Piemonte, but still a timeless view of an often hidden landscape.

Rice fields of Piemonte near Malpensa Airport

Now I am Valsesia, half way through our full programme of trips and the festival awaits this week. More about that another time, ciao

Cafe in great surrounds