Observing The Skill Level of Canoeists and Kayakers
One challenge faced by canoe and kayak coaches is guaging the level to which a skill has been aquired by a student. The abililty to do this is particularly important when undertaking a personal skills assessment of students, as students are usually required to show a ‘skilled’ or ‘skillful’ performance.
But what does a ‘skillful’ performance look like? The model of skill aquisition below is being developed by Loel Collins at the University of Central Lancashire and it divides performance into five levels – from ‘awareness’ of a skill through to ‘skillful. It also suggests some observable behaviours a coach would expect to see a student demonstrate at each level. These are divided into ‘cognitive’, ‘biomechanical’ and ‘physiological’ behaviours. By observing the student and noticing the behaviours a coach might use this model to determine the skill level the student has reached.
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|The coach/paddler has been introduced to the components of a particular skill and they understand it.
Their performance is defined by interpretation of rules/routines supplied by the trainer. The coach/paddler uses these to quantify the performance.
Consistency of intended outcome is poor.
The coach/paddler literally only has an awareness of the skill being learned.
“ I understand what you are suggesting and can see its relevance, but not applied it yet”
An understanding of the skill is demonstrated by the coach/paddlers ability to identify examples of the skill when observing another performance.
In general the student is unaware of their surroundings or other influences that may affect their performance,
Actions will be exaggerated, possibly even opposite to what is desired.
The performance will be so faltering that fatigue will set in during activity. Muscle soreness and tiredness will be experienced.
|The coach/paddler is starting to put the components of the skill or theory to use through a process of reflective practice. With support such as assistance from the trainer, crib cards, or feedback the individual can use elements of the skill.
The template for the performance is still established by the trainer but the coach/paddler is literally and figuratively getting a feel for it.
“I am playing with this to see how it works”
The coach/paddler is able to describe what they are doing. In addition they are beginning to be aware of the influences around them that will affect performance.
Fine details of performance may be poorly timed or structured. However the macro structure is appropriate. The coach/paddler will mostly be using too much/little effort, but it will sometimes be appropriate. The skill/manoeuvre may look rushed or erratic.
The performance will be tiring and stiff, this will influence the length of session possible.
|The coach/paddler now uses the skill in their general coaching/paddling, but it is not varied for the given students or situation
The limitations are becoming apparent and the performer starts to experiment with concepts rather than rules.
The performance is generally consistent, the intended outcome is achieved more than half the time.
“If I plan well ahead I can use it and if not then I know why”
The coach paddler is now able to use the technique as part of his/her regular activity. There is no need for assistance with the macro structure. The dynamic nature and varied environments that coach/paddlers operate in and the application of the rules means that the cognitive activity is still high.
The effort and position (e.g. edge trim angle) will now be appropriate more often than not. The skill manoeuvre will look reasonably smooth but the speed/endurance is still being affected by inconsistency.
The muscle is now more in tune with the movements creating a smoother more fluent movement pattern. Sessions can be longer and fine muscle control is possible.
The coach/paddler is starting to be able to describe their activity. The muscles are sufficiently relaxed to allow proprioceptive awareness to develop.
|The coach/paddler is associating particular past situations with specific modifications to the components of the skill. This can only be achieved through a process of reflective practice.
Rules have been replaced with principles and will have even been simplified or grouped to help comprehension. Rules often become confined to key safety issues rather than performance matters.
The performance is consistent. The intended outcome is achieved most of the time.
“ I can use the technique when given the opportunity to plan ahead and am able to anticipate common/frequent problems.”
The paddler has a clear understanding of the component parts and their relationship with each other. There is a realization that there are too many variables to apply simple rules. In order to reduce cognitive activity the coach/paddler is starting to draw on previous experience in order to react rather than consider.
The individual now has a more consistent performance and a range of techniques for most situations. New environments often require a couple of attempts prior to success.
The effort and position will now be correct most of the time. The paddler will be paying attention to ways of making the skill more efficient.
The performance will be with minimal effort reducing long-term fatigue.
Muscles are used to the actions and movements.
|The coach/paddler is able to perform the skill with autonomy and creativity. As the need arises the individual can modify their actions to suit a wide range of situations. The coach/paddler has sufficient understanding and experience to understand the relationship between movements/theories.
The coach/paddler is operating without consciously referring to rules or principles. They will appear to make decisions and refine movements instinctively.
The performance is very consistent. The intended outcome is almost always achieved.
“ I can trust it when the going gets tough, I can use this skill off the cuff alongside other theories and models”
The coach paddler has a very clear understanding of all the components of the skill or theory and will only be paying conscious attention to fine motor movements. The coach/paddler will be intuitively responding to the changing influences around them. The individual will be constantly strategically planning and applying tactics to address the changing influences at a micro level.
The skill can be performed in a range of different environmental locations with the same level of consistency.
The paddler can adapt and justify the skill.
The effort and position will almost always be appropriate. The paddler will be constantly refining to achieve maximum output with minimum input.
The performance will be achieved with minimal effort and without long term fatigue. Through training the muscles will be used to the actions and movements.