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Coach Casey. – What is it and Why get a Coach for SUP?

Coach Casey. evolved from what started as simply giving back to the local SUP Club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Sydney Paddle Surf Club (SPSC).  After years of SUP surf and race coaching to beginners, intermediates and advanced paddlers, I’ve just recently taken up the official role as head coach, writing a training program for the clubs Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday training sessions. These sessions are tailored towards the what the club members are working towards, SPSC Long and Short Course Race Series as well as a few bigger Aussie races such as King of the Cut and 12 Towers.

To be honest, I never intended on writing programs or coaching the local SUP crew. It all came about approximately three years ago when Adam Bridgewater, ‘Bridgey’, approached me and asked if I could help him get into the sport and learn the correct paddle technique. I’d been an accredited Kite Surf Coach for 4 years, and had been progressing through the SUP racing and surfing scene for 2 years, so I thought why not put my skills to good use.  We started just with Private Coaching Sessions and then because I was away at races and events throughout the year I began writing up sessions that I was using for my own personal training sessions, which has now developed in to Coach Casey. This includes on water SUP interval and technique sessions as well as swimming and gym workouts.

The basic principle for my training programs is to train smart, not hard and always keep sessions fun. On water interval sessions normally have a focus on endurance, speed or a mix of both depending on the time prior to a race or what clients feel they need to work on. I have also developed a few technique specific sessions, working on the basic paddle stroke principle catch, power and recovery, or race specific skills such as buoy turns, drafting or beach starts. 

When building towards specific races it’s important to train in conditions the same or similar to what you’d expect for the race. For example for Hawaiian ocean races such as Maui 2 Molokai or Molokai 2 Oahu it wouldn’t be too smart to just train in flatwater conditions. There’s a good chance there’ll be bumpy water out there so you’ve got to throw yourself into the bumpy and lumpy conditions to get your body ready for whatever the race could throw at you. In saying that it doesn’t mean you only train if the wind is good for downwinders. Even if the conditions are calm you need to get out in the flat ocean in case there is no wind for race day.

Finally, I have found a good line of communication is the key to a good coach and athlete relationship. Without it everything breaks down. Feedback on each session or the weeks worth of sessions allows me as coach to improve the next week for you. Monthly phone calls also allow goals to be updated and reassessed. These goals can be as simple as I want to be able to paddle to work or do a downwinder or as ambitious as getting a podium at Molokai 2 Oahu. To ensure I can give each athlete the appropriate time and energy I limit the number of athletes I take on. I want to give quality advice and not spread myself too thin.

So, to answer the question first asked… why get a coach for the sport of SUP? To tap into a coaches wealth of knowledge and experience. I also find a coach takes the stress out of knowing what it is you should be doing during training. Finally a coach allows you to continuously up skill, they hold you accountable as you build towards and peak for races and they keep paddling fresh and fun.

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