Aaron shares his white water SUP journey

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For me, my SUP journey started back in 2015 with the introduction of the SUP Discipline Support Module provided by Phil Hadley (there’s a might be a theme building here …). Since then its been lots of flat water paddling, predominantly providing hundreds of taster sessions and sheltered water development courses. I’ve mostly been self-exploring with new ways to use a SUP to entertain myself in the wild flat lands of Norfolk. I’ve tried to surf a 12ft touring iSUP with dubious results. Finally, I tried  out some white-water SUP with Ant Ing at the SUP festival at Llangollen back in 2019. After winning a race in the boater X event, I was hooked! SUP made grade 2 water really exciting and challenging again.

Fast forward a year and I now have my own white-water specific board. I’ve spent many hours working on my techniques and trying to figure out the small details of how to actually use a SUP on white water (I got really good at falling off). Then comes lockdown. Over lockdown we’ve all seen a large explosion in the use of paddlesports on our waterways. Especially SUP where I’m from! I saw an opportunity to take a thriving sport and help introduce people to a white-water environment that they may not have found themselves. Taking two of my favourite things (SUP and white water) and combining them, sounded brilliant to me!

So, I did a bit of research using the coaching pathway to see what I could do to progress myself during these times. Quickly I realised that as a UKCC level 2 holder, I could immediately progress right onto the 2-day white-water SUP coach training, winning!

The 2-day training was really relaxing, based entirely around us, the students…

There was lots of practical time on the water, full of discussion and best practice between everyone present. It was a truly equal event where everyone’s input counted. There was lots of questions about our pre-conceptions and rational behind what equipment we carried. Even the coaches picked up some new tips too.
man smiling, stood with his stand up paddleboard, by the river

We spent a lot of time looking at our analysis and observations and how to relate that back to our core coach principles. This greatly aided us to understand where the student paddler is at in their journey, and where to take them next.

The course combined the expert coaching background of Phil Haldey and technical skill wizardry of Anthony Ing and Alex Tonge to provide so much information that challenged my technical templates, delivery methods and knowledge bank of the white-water SUP world delivery dramatically changed for the better.

So where to go from here to get to assessment?

Commitment to the cause is the game. Put in the driving hours to as many venues as I can, to work out which areas and rivers work so I can get out and coach it! Log at least 15 sessions of progressive coaching to really work home those coaching styles and effective use of analysis and observations to guide my delivery. Easy right? Well maybe not so when you live in the flat lands of Norfolk…

To do this I took the leap and formed a small paddle sports business – Fluidtuition Paddlesports. I used this as a springboard to bring the explosion of craft use during lockdown mentioned earlier and the popular Horstead Mill on the river Bure, as a way to provided introductory sessions in a calm and friendly venue, working up to take the same people out on river trips and white-water centres to build up their appetite for some white-water goodness!

Find out more about become a SUP White Water Coach here.


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