Survey of Paddle Education and Coaching in NSW

The new training structure for Paddle Education has been operational for a few years and as NSW heads out of covid lockdown, PaddleNSW (PNSW) felt that it was timely to reach out to all paddle educators[1] in an effort to quantify the current paddle education climate and identify gaps in paddle education and distribution through the state.

The project was run under the Macquarie University PACE program. Karly Ognenovski was assigned to PNSW to set up a survey, deliver it via email, analyse and interpret the data, and present outcomes in a report. Lynn Parker (PNSW Co-ordinator for PAQS) and Margi Böhm (PNSW Coaching Co-ordinator) supervised the project.

Those surveyed are clearly committed to paddle education in NSW and we were particularly heartened to hear that so many of the respondents wanted to be part of the Educators cohort in the future, freely giving their details for leading educational groups across the State. We will be starting this conversation soon. However, the survey identified some key issues that need to be resolved sooner than later:

  • Demographics are skewed towards older educators with around 75 % over 40 years of age. More men are involved in paddle education compared with women, especially PAQS educators. It is important to develop a cohort of educators across different genders and ages working together. This dynamic is well known to greatly increases the effectiveness of an education program and also provides a natural succession path.
  • Several barriers to renewing qualifications were identified by both PAQS and Coaches:
    • Insufficient assessors making sign off difficult when travel is restricted due to covid. It is recommended that PNSW work on developing networks to help connect educators across the state and work with PA to allow remote assessing of educators.
    • Renewal process on the PA website is too laborious with low value of effort for gain. PaddleLog issues are a major issue with PNSW educators. Since the survey, PNSW has been working with PA to fix some of the problems with PaddleLog. This will be an ongoing process.
    • Uncertainty in the paddle industry following lockdowns is one of the main barriers to PAQS educators being uncertain about renewing their registration.
    • Timely reminders for renewal. PNSW needs to take this up with PA.
    • Lack of confidence in abilities leading to failure to re-register.
  • Coaches identified several areas where more information is needed to help them coach effectively, especially since PA currently only provides Introduction to Coaching and Foundation Coaching Courses. Furthermore, resources on the PA website do not help club level coaches improve their skills. It is suggested that PNSW develop a set of resources to fill this gap. The preferred education format is webinars closely followed by face-to-face and written material online. Topics of interest include:
    •  How to teach effectively;
    • Updates on paddling technique;
    • Updates on training strategies;
    • How to write effective training programs;
    • How to prepare risk assessments.
    • PAQS educators also identified several areas where more information is needed to help them. The preferred education format is face-to-face. Topics of interest include:
      • How to teach effectively;
      • Paddling technique;
      • Training strategies;
      • Updates on equipment;
      • Updates on risk management and assessment;
      • General skills appealed to both groups.

The main recommendation made to the PNSW Board is for a subsidised face-to-face weekend workshop/conference for all paddle educators (both PAQS and Coaches) that will cover the topics listed above as well as provide on-water skills development and assessment. This proposal is currently being considered in light of recent covid restrictions and developments. In addition, Lynn and Margi are planning a webinar to present the results of the survey and to discuss a way forward with the paddle educator community. The full report can be found on the PaddleNSW website.

[1] Includes all individuals with PAQS and/or Coach qualifications registered with PA.

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