Thursday, August 20, 2009
Midwest Freestyle Clinics
Last year started the tradition of having freestyle clinics the two days prior to the competition. Colin Kemp and John McConville taught some great clinics last year that were so popular Wausau added a third instructor, Brian Tupper, to accommodate the increase of students. Last year my instructor was Colin. I paddle often with John so I was secretly hoping to have the "unknown factor" of the new guy, Brian. I got my wish. Brian has all kinds of mad skills and a very calm personality that enables a paddler to relax and work on skills. Patience being one of the most important traits for a whitewater teacher, Brian had it all. In my class I watched the students visibly improve within the first day and a vast improvement over two days. I would rate Brian as a top notch instructor and I was fortunate to have him. If these three instructors return again next year I believe that Wausau is going to be known for the Freestyle clinics also. Plus the addition of Bear Paw doing the intro to whitewater course I can easily see an influx of many new paddlers to the sport. With these types of instructors I can see so much growth across all levels of paddling ability. It's interesting to see the different needs of different levels of kayaking. I believe it gets to a point that for a very experienced student the technical ability of the instructor is just an afterthought where as what is needed for an experienced kayaker is a coach that can motivate the mind. Someone that knows how to break past that barrier in a paddlers mind to push them to believe the next step is possible. Even with teaching beginners mind control/fear control is important. Bottom line is instilling confidence in your student. That said I can confidently say the beginners that took the classes were confident enough to throw down at the competition. Next year it is going to be even bigger. My only regret is that I wish they would have the classes on Wednesday and Thursday and have Friday as a rest/practice day. Just my two cents. Hint, hint.