Meet Natalie, NEW SUP Sheltered Water Coach

Quality training from the world's largest paddling course provider

My first “taste” of stand up paddleboarding was back in 2018 when I had a 45 minute taster on a Groupon deal for £7! I managed to stand up but soon fell off when a boat passed by, in St Ives Harbour. I always had an itch to get back on a board but living in London I couldn’t work out how to continue my SUP journey. It was only when I searched for any SUP clubs locally that I found Active 360, a SUP school with sites across Kew, Paddington, Brentford and Richmond. I booked a group session as a treat and, despite it taking me a whole 45 minutes to stand up (most of my students stand up in the first 5-10 minutes!), I was hooked! I then booked to paddle once a week for the foreseeable future and even managed to convince a couple of friends to join me on a session.

Paddling with my friends got me thinking. If I could get myself to a good enough standard, perhaps I could take my friends out, all they’d need to rent would be the equipment. I looked into booking onto The Thames Skills Course 1 and, due to my enthusiasm for the sport, one of the owners of Active 360 approached me and said that they were looking for more coaches for the following summer and asked if I was interested in undertaking the coaching qualification. Naturally I was concerned that I didn’t have enough experience but with the support of the school, the ability to shadow some amazing coaches, and undertaking the prerequisite training modules, I was able to submit myself for assessment in June 2021, and passed!

I really enjoyed the training. As a natural theorist (I am a lawyer by trade) I needed the theory, structure and practical “package” to get there – and it worked. The road map to not only improving my own skills to a level that would help others, but understanding the different learning styles and, as a result, teaching styles required to get the most out of someone, I found fascinating. Shout out to Alex Tonge and Phil Hadley, without whom I definitely would not have had the confidence to get assessed so early on in my SUP journey – let alone pass!

Since I became a qualified coach in June, I have been coaching individuals and groups paddleboarding not only at Active 360’s sites in Kew and Paddington, but my sister also trusted me to take her out when we were back in Cornwall and even listened to my instruction (hey, if you have siblings you know how difficult it can be to get them to learn from you!).

It’s been such a gift to help others on their SUP journey and I intend to continue coaching sheltered water SUP for the foreseeable future. In terms of continuing my SUP journey, I’ve tried a bit of whitewater SUP (I didn’t manage to stand up but there’s always next time!) and I’d love to try SUP surf when the weather picks up! I’d definitely like to get more competent paddling in the sea and open water so that the next time I’m in Cornwall I can perhaps convince my sister to come on a SUP water safari with me. I’ve always wanted to paddle around St Michael’s Mount so am looking forward to achieving that next summer.

One of the highlights since I have become a SUP coach was being asked to interview Dave Price, author of The Paddle Board Bible, at The London Mountain Film Festival in Hammersmith this September. I would never have dreamed I’d be part of this world this time last year – what a difference a year makes!

Interested in becoming a Stand Up Paddleboard Coach?

The SUP Sheltered Water Coach Award is designed for people whose core function is to coach paddlers on SUPs who want to gain/improve their paddleboarding skills. This will include coaching beginners new to the stand up paddleboarding, or paddlers looking to develop their skills in a sheltered water environment.

The SUP Sheltered Water Coach Award consists of a Core Coach Training, SUP Sheltered Water Coach training and the Coach Award eLearning. This is concluded by a SUP Sheltered Water Coach Assessment. Find out more and start your journey to become a Stand Up Paddleboard Coach today!


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