Coaching is an exciting career pathway. Whether you enjoy working from an on-water office, teaching kids new skills or leading in a highly motivated environment, there are a wide array of opportunities in coaching. Coaching summer programs at a club is a natural first step for many paddlers. Sharing first-hand knowledge of the sport to teach enthusiastic newcomers can be a rewarding way to help others experience the joys of paddling. After getting your feet wet by assisting on a part-time or volunteer basis, it can also be a great way earn a regular pay cheque while having some fun doing it.
With mentorship, experience and formal coach training you can work your way up from coaching at your first local competitions to working year-round with a group to prepare them for provincial and national championships. Some coaches take an interest in the competitive stream while others prefer to immerse themselves in the community stream. Sink your heart into managing a specific program like CanoeKids, PaddleALL or Masters. Oversee and mentor other coaches, and even end up running the show as head coach of a club. As your athletes reach the National level and crack a few teams, there are many opportunities to further your coaching career by integrating with National Development Team and Junior Team projects.
Just like in competition, staying at the head of the pack means continually advancing your coaching skills through professional development and learning from experts. Through hard work and experience you can progress to higher levels and choose coaching as a full-time career. As a National Team Coach you work with World-calibre athletes and travel the world to represent Canada. Some of the top high performance coaches become leading experts in particular areas and do consulting, give presentations or further academic research.
The Coaching Association of Canada is a key partner of Canoe Kayak Canada in developing excellence through coaching. By delivering National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) approved courses, Canoe Kayak Canada ensures coaches have the necessary skills and training to progress with confidence to the highest levels and deliver the best quality coaching to athletes throughout the entire pathway. Click the tabs to view coaching courses for the disciplines of Sprint, Whitewater and Marathon. Find courses offered in your community by viewing the Calendar or contacting your Provincial Paddling Association.
Become a Sprint Coach
New coaches can start into either the community stream or competitive stream. Switching between the community and competitive stream is easy in the early stages. Competition coaches can continue on to complete the Competition Development and High Performance as they advance in their careers and begin to work with higher level athletes.
Sprint Coach Pathway
Where do I fit?
The Community Stream prepares coaches to deliver programs for CanoeKids, PaddleALL and Dragon Boat. You don’t need a lot of paddling experience to enter into this stream – just an enthusiastic attitude and willingness to learn. The community stream is an ideal spot for a 16 year-old to start coaching or for a volunteer already helping with programs to acquire formal coach training. Find courses offered in your community by viewing the Calendar or contacting your Provincial or Territorial Paddling Association.
Get certified to deliver the CanoeKids program and introduce kids between the ages of 9 and 11 to canoeing and kayaking. Teach technique and fundamental skills the CanoeKids way. From identifying the different parts of the boat to teaching balance drills and basic strokes, the program provides a comprehensive introduction to a sport with an emphasis on fun and safety. CanoeKids coaches will learn a variety of fun introductory activities and be able to properly detect and correct basic technique. In learning to deliver the CanoeKids program you will acquire the skills necessary to introduce someone to the sport at any age.
This course will equip leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully start a PaddleALL program at their club. Leaders will come away from this training with the tools they need to offer programming for persons with physical or intellectual disabilities. This course covers considerations for working with various athletes abilities, recruitment and safety.
This course will help coaches initiate dragon boat programming at their club to facilitate a strong multisport environment. Coaches will learn to effectively introduce new paddlers to the sport and teach basic dragon boat skills to kids and adults. The course will focus on building a successful dragon boat program that will fit within the club’s foundational program offerings.
Pleasure Craft Operator Card
Entry-Level Competitive Coach (ELCC)
The Entry-Level Competitive Coach is the first step to coaching in the competitive stream. Find courses offered in your community by viewing the Calendar or contacting your Provincial or Territorial Paddling Association. Multisport courses can be found through your Provincial or Territorial Coaching Association.
Pleasure Craft Operator Card
To learn to operate a motorboat safely, coaches must obtain their Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Card. The exam can be taken online or through an approved course. This is not part of the ELCC process but a practical component to becoming a coach.
After completing Competition-Introduction Multisport Part A and B along with the ELCC core training, coaches are considered “trained.” While trained coaches have acquired the necessary knowledge, certified coaches have demonstrated their competence through an evaluation. To become certified, coaches must contact their provincial paddling associations to schedule an evaluation. Before the evaluation the coach must submit a practice plan and emergency action plan. The coach also needs to complete the online Making Ethical Decisions evaluation. At the scheduled evaluation the coach and evaluator will meet before and conduct a debrief after. The evaluator will observe the coach running a practice and evaluate certain criteria. The evaluation will take approximately 2-3 hours in total. When the coach passes, the evaluator will sign off and paperwork will be submitted to the Provincial Paddling Association, then to Canoe Kayak Canada and finally to the Coaching Association of Canada.
Competition Development Coach
The Competition-Development context aligns with CKC’s Long Term Athlete Development pathway in the Late Train-to-Train and Train to Compete stages of athlete development. This stream is geared towards coaches who are working year-round at a club and aspire to be a head coach or provincial team coach. This certification is needed to coach at the Canada Games. Retiring high performance athletes with an interest in coaching also fit into this context. Coaches must either be ELCC Certified or a former National Team athlete.
Competition Development Part 1
This course takes several of the concepts introduced in ELCC training to the next level. Coaches will learn methods for analyzing performance and further their knowledge of canoe and kayak technique through biomechanical principles. They will build further on the concepts of practice planning to understand the fundamentals of building a yearly training plan. Leadership philosophies and the idea of creating an effective training environment will be central to this course. National Team Coaches, Integrated Support Team members and staff bring a wide variety of perspectives to the course. Coaches will identify a mentor to work with throughout their competition development training. They will also complete 5 multisport modules including developing athletic abilities, managing conflict, coaching and leading effectively, leading drug free sport, and psychology of performance. Format: 3 day course with additional multisport modules and mentoring activites to be completed independently. Prerequisite: ELCC Certified or former National Team athlete, Developing Athletic Abilities
Competition Development Part 2
Coaches will look at performance planning and analysis as it relates to developing race tactics and evaluating a training plan. Leadership skills will be advanced with an emphasis on managing conflict and making ethical decisions. The concepts of recovery, injury prevention, tapering and peaking will be explored. Coaches will also look at athlete monitoring and strategies for crew boat selection. National Team Coaches and Integrated Support Team members are incorporated into the second part of competition development and coaches will continue to learn from their mentors. Format: 3 day course with additional multisport modules to be completed independently Prerequisite: Competition Development Part 1 and all multisport workshops
High Performance Coach
High Performance Coaches focus on training athletes to achieve excellence at the highest levels of competition. This stream is designed for coaches working with Provincial and National Team athletes, and those who coach at international competitions including World Championships or the Olympic Games. Education programs for High Performance Coaches are a combination of formal in-class learning as well as other individual learning opportunities based on coaches interests, needs and learning styles.
Advanced Coaching Diploma
The Diploma consists of four core themes; Coaching Leadership, Coaching Effectiveness, Performance Planning, and Training and Competition Readiness. Each theme requires coaches to complete a series of modules comprised of several 3 hour units of in-classroom sessions, seminars, workshops or labs. Coaches enrolled in the Diploma program will work with a designated master and/or mentor coach who will support them in their completion of program requirements. The diploma is completed through Canadian Sport Institutes and all assignments are integrated with Canoe Kayak Canada.
Accelerated Coaching Education (ACE)
This program will include an individually tailored curriculum in which the coach will work with mentors to develop specific objectives for advancing their education through an individual learning plan. An example of part of that learning plan could include travelling to World Championships or Olympic Games to perform race analysis, working with coach mentors and to observing coaching at the most elite level. There is a strong emphasis on individual learning from leading coaches and academics in this program.
Become a Whitewater Coach or Instructor
There are four streams for becoming a whitewater coach or instructor depending on your interests. The community sport stream is focused on teaching the basics of paddling in a pool. The instruction stream is geared toward those who want to teach whitewater paddling on the river. In the leadership and swiftwater stream, instructors will develop their leadership and safety skills to effectively guide groups on river trips. The competitive stream is for those who want to coach slalom, freestyle, wildwater or canoe polo at the competitive level.
Whitewater Leadership Development Model
Whitewater ELCC Coach Pathway
Slalom Competition Development Coach Pathway
The Pool Kayak Instructor course is an ideal entry point for new instructors. You do not need to have a background in paddling to take this course and it is well suited to lifeguards who would like to learn to teach introductory paddling skills to kids in a pool setting. Learn to teach the basics to new paddlers including propulsion, basic strokes and wet-exits from the kayak. With this course you will be qualified to offer recreational community programming and instruct courses like Pools In Schools. Format: The Pool Kayak Instructor program can be offered as a combined program with the Lake Kayak Instructor 1 level. The Pool Kayak Instructor program can also be offered on its own to certify Pool Kayak Instructors. The Pool Kayak Instructor program is a 1 day course. Prerequisites: None. Must be 16 years of age to achieve “trained” status.
Pool Kayak Instructor
The instruction stream is for those who want to teach whitewater paddling for recreational purposes. Instructors in this stream could end up working for a wilderness company to take newcomers out on the river to introduce them to the sport, or work with more experienced paddlers to help them gain confidence and master challenging whitewater. Learning to teach whitewater paddling on the river starts with flatwater skills and gradually progresses up to more challenging whitewater.
This stream is for those who would like to gain the instruction and leadership and safety skills needed to take a group on a river trip. The initial courses will help a leader assist as part of a leadership team while more advanced courses will enable a leader to plan and guide trips on bigger whitewater in remote areas.
Lake Kayak Instructor
Lake Instructor candidates will learn to teach skills including rolling, edging and basic strokes to new paddlers to prepare them for whitewater. Instructors will learn to properly demonstrate intermediate flatwater skills and to detect and correct errors. This course includes a Making Ethical Decisions component to helps instructors identify the legal, ethical, and moral implications within the instructional environment. Format: The Lake Kayak Instructor program is normally offered as a combined program with the Pool Kayak Instructor. However, the Lake Kayak Instructor 1 program can be offered on its own to certify Lake Instructors. The Pool Kayak Instructor program is offered as a 1 day course. The Lake Kayak Instructor 1 program is a 2 day program. Co-requisites: Pool Kayak Instructor. Must be 16 years of age to be certified.
River Kayak Instructor 2 - Leader 2
Learn the skills needed to introduce intermediate paddlers to class 1-2 whitewater. This includes identifying basic river features and teaching novice-level whitewater skills. River Kayak Instructor 2 - Leader 2 is an NCCP Certified Course and will prepare you to teach clinics, courses or work at a kayak school. Format: The River Kayak Instructor 2 program is normally offered as a combined program with Leader 2. However, the Leader 2 program can be offered on its own to certify river leaders. Each program is offered as a 2.5 day course (including evaluation), but are offered together as a 4-day course (including evaluation). Prerequisites: Lake Kayak Instructor. Must be 16 years of age to achieve “trained” status and 18 years of age to be certified.
Whitewater Kayak Instructor 3 - Leader 3
With this course, you will gain the knowledge needed to work with more experienced whitewater paddlers. You will be able to teach intermediate and advanced river skills to help participants gain confidence and skill on class 3 whitewater. Format: The Whitewater Kayak Instructor 3 program is normally offered as a combined program with Leader 3. However, the Leader 3 program can be offered on its own to certify river leaders. Each program is offered as a 2 day course (including evaluation), but are offered together as a 3-day course (including evaluation). Prerequisites: River Kayak Instructor 2; Must be 16 years of age to achieve “trained” status and 18 years of age to be certified. CKC Swift Water Rescue training is strongly recommended.
This safety course will teach you about river hazards, swift water rescue techniques, how to manage a group, coordinate logistics and develop rescue plans. This is a Canoe Kayak Canada course. Format: Two-day course on class 2 whitewater with practical and classroom components interspersed. Prerequisites: Any whitewater skills.
This stream is for those who aspire to become a competitive club, provincial or national team coach in slalom, freestyle, wildwater or canoe polo. In this stream coaches have the potential to work with elite athletes aspiring to reach the highest levels of competition.
Whitewater ELCC Coach
This course is the first step to becoming a competitive whitewater coach and introduces the basic elements of all four whitewater disciplines. Learn the fundamentals of slalom gate setup, basic rules of canoe polo, lines of wildwater and surfing techniques for freestyle. You’ll understand how to teach basic paddling skills on flatwater and progress them to whitewater. Basic safety skills and methods for improving technique are covered in this course. Format: This course is in development. Format to be determined. Prerequisites: None.
Slalom Competition Development Coach
At this stage, coaches specialize in one particular form of whitewater paddling. Through specific competition development courses, coaches learn to effectively teach the strategy behind the sport. In the case of slalom this includes techniques for analyzing and navigating down the course in the fastest time. In canoe polo coaches will learn to teach teamwork skills and specific plays. Development Coaches are qualified to coach at the club and provincial levels. Format: This course is in development. Format to be determined. Prerequisites: Introduction to Competition is recommended.
High Performance Coach
High Performance Coaches focus on training athletes to achieve excellence at the highest levels of competition. This level of certification is for National Team Coaches who may coach at competitions including World Championships or the Olympic Games. Certification programs for High Performance Coaching are sport and coach specific and may include a mentoring program with an internationally-renowned coach or pursuing an Advanced Coaching Diploma.
Become a Marathon Coach
The first step in the marathon coaching stream is the Entry-Level Competition Coach. Courses can be found through the your Provincial and Territorial Paddling Association.
Entry-Level Competitive Coach
Competition-Introduction Multisport Workshops
Marathon – ELCC Core Training
The core training Entry-Level Coaching Course includes the practical and theoretical components of coaching marathon paddling. Coaches will learn how to effectively plan practices focused on building endurance according to various energy systems and utilizing the creeks, rivers and lakes to their fullest capacity. Coaches will explore the concepts of training, preparation, race tactics and strategies, reading water and paddling safety. The course includes an overview of technique for traditional marathon canoe paddling and will also touch upon technical components of kayaking if there is interest from individual participants.
Format: 12-16 hour course
Marathon – ELCC Module
ELCC modules are add-on courses for coaches who have already completed ELCC core training in another area including sprint small boats, war canoe and dragon boat. The marathon module is a shorter modified course which would include the marathon specific coach training without repeating the theory learned in core training. Format: 5-6 hour practical course. This course is in development.
Making Ethical Decisions
Pleasure Craft Operator Card
After completing the Competition-Introduction Multisport Workshops along with the ELCC core training, coaches are considered “trained.” While trained coaches have acquired the necessary knowledge, certified coaches have demonstrated their competence through an evaluation. To become certified, coaches must contact their provincial paddling associations to schedule an evaluation. Before the evaluation the coach must submit a practice plan and emergency action plan. The coach also needs to complete the online Making Ethical Decisions evaluation. At the scheduled evaluation the coach and evaluator will meet before and conduct a debrief after. The evaluator will observe the coach running a practice and evaluate certain criteria. The evaluation will take approximately 2-3 hours in total. When the coach passes, the evaluator will sign off and paperwork will be submitted to the Provincial Paddling Association, then to Canoe Kayak Canada and finally to the Coaching Association of Canada.