ACA Instructor Certification class with Nick Wigston

We had our first ACA instructor certification course of the year last weekend. The students learned a lot and improved their paddling skills dramatically.

In this first image. Sarah is working on mastering the Stern Draw, which is one of the most important strokes for kayakers. It is a quick and easy way to correct your direction and it can be used for super dynamic eddy carves, surfing fast waves, and helps to save energy on the river.

sarah working on her stern draw

Sarah working on her stern draw

Students in our ACA certification classes teach each other to roll by following a gradual progression. They start with mastering the hip snap and eventually learn how to help someone master the entire roll. It’s important for students to be able to easily hip snap using only a PFD before learning to use the paddle.

teaching roll

The class learning and practicing how to teach a student how to roll

Instructor candidates need to demonstrate effective paddling technique. Many kayakers go for years without ever having any instruction. Over the years we all develop many bad habits that waste energy and make us less efficient and more tired when boating. In order to get rid of those bad habits, you have to break your paddling technique down to the basics and re-learn. Most of the students in this class started with relatively sloppy technique, and became crisp, smooth, and efficient by the end of the course. We start by going back to the most key concepts of beginner paddling strokes and build to advanced strokes, skulls, draws, and more. The first two days of the course are spent on flatwater to provide ample time to master these skills.

sam practicing forward stroke

Sam practicing his forward stroke

A huge part of our certification course is learning how to teach kayaking. This encompasses many things including kayaking skills, running a class, safety, logistics, teamwork, organization, and much more. We spend a lot of time practicing our teaching methods that are designed to address the needs of people of all different learning styles. We give our candidates teaching methods that help them to formulate their lessons effectively in order to make kayaking easy for people to understand. Most students of this class have never taught using a format. Having a format to follow allows you to easily organize your thoughts so you come across clear and confident. Learning to kayak can be easy if the instructor knows how to teach.

Luc teaching the class how to scout rapids

Luc teaching the class how to scout rapids

craig irwin demonstrating boat tilt

craig irwin demonstrating boat tilt

One of the advanced skills we work a lot on is carving in and out of eddies. This is a much more effective way of hitting eddies and peeling out. Most kayakers, skid into eddies. After a DSE cert class, you’ll be carving like a pro.

dave frank practicing eddy carves

dave frank practicing eddy carves

finish position of the roll

finish position of the roll

All of the students started from scratch with their roll. I was amazed at the crisp, quick, and effortless rolls I was seeing on the last day.

Check out this roll sequence.

roll set up position

roll set up position

preparing to sweep

preparing to sweep

sweeping out across the surface

sweep out across the surface of the water like you are spreading peanut butter on bread.

almost up

rotate to the stern as you sweep around. look down the paddle shaft

finish position

finish in this position, rotated back, looking down the shaft, blade flat on water, and upper hand tucked into the shoulder.


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