Coaching opens up a new world for Paul Calvert

Paul Calvert and son Tom

Paul Calvert ARA level 2 coach (and proud of it!) talks about the new world that has opened up to him as a rowing coach:

‘When the captain of York City Rowing Club suggested I should attend the ARA level 2 coaching course I was knocked for six. My association with the club had been short and I had no experience of coaching. A few months earlier, much to my surprise, the club’s junior coordinator had asked me if  would like to assist him with novice juniors and so began a wonderful association with a wonderful group of people.

The course was held at St Peter’s School in York over four Saturdays, conducted very professionally but with a friendly and comfortable format by Gail Foster. Emphasis is placed on communication, safety and being aware of an individual’s needs and limitations, "being participant focussed". Technical abilities in coaching, though useful are not a prerequisite for good coaching. Some of the training is classroom based, laid out in a manner that makes it easy to take on board and revisit, questions and answers, role play and an element of fun keep the interest and focus.

Outside the classroom we covered boathouse skills and risk assessment, the safe and proper procedure for getting a boat on the river (common sense you may think but when seen from a different angle it becomes an essential knowledge along with awareness of ones surroundings), the correct use of an ergo and the things to look for.  Shoulder, hip, knee and hand positions are a history of someone’s life and can show where there are areas that need to be worked on or limitations to adhere to – this is something I have put into very good practice with my own crew.

Then we have the capsize and swim test; we were fortunate that on the day it seemed that half of York City RC were there, including GB members. It was fun and informative, it also gave our group the first chance to put into practice what we had learnt. Being now able to talk through with apprehensive people exactly what would happen and putting them at ease is what ARA coaching is about.  Soliciting feedback, listening to ideas and using praise to progress turns a training session from a duty to interactive learning and fun.

My coaching is based on the round table approach, no hierarchy just a group of people working together to achieve an individual or group need, with one exception, safety, which has recently been put to the test. Flipping a quad is not easy but it happened. My crew listened and acted on my word, we secured the crew and the boat in a text book way. 

This course has opened up a whole new world for me, I have a group of people that I enjoy and respect and they respect me and the time I give to them, I enjoy ever single minute of it and feel I have a whole other purpose to my life. We are looking forward to many competitions and some trophies for our endeavours this year. I am continually learning and ask the advice of far more experienced coaches on a regular basis. 

I will never forget the day of my assessment by Rory Semple and subsequent accreditation as an ARA coach, there were so many people there to congratulate me and so many thanks I gave to those that supported me. At our next training session I was greeted with "Morning coach", they dont use it all the time but it is a good reminder of what I have achieved and the team spirit we share. 

To summarise, I would recommend this course to all with an interest in the needs and requirements of individuals and crews within your club, my recommendation extends to those coaches with many years experience and merits to their name. Take a look at coaching from a different angle, it’s such an enjoyable and informative experience. Good coaching is about very basic but essential qualities:

  1. showing concern for standards
  2. being a participant focussed coach
  3. continually developing as a coach
  4. enjoying what you are doing.

The fourth one as important as the rest, Any one can do it, you don’t even have to be a rower. My son was the reason I was on the tow path and watching proceedings when I was asked to coach, he is an excellent sculler. Me. I’ve never rowed in my life!!!’