Wyatt Is A Better Model Than I Am

Wyatt Is A Better Model Than I Am

Tuesday nights, ever since the time change when we got more daylight back in the evenings, have become kayak practice nights with the boys. We just head to the Deschutes here in Olympia, Washington between Pioneer Park and the Valley Golf Course. It is little more than moving water. The biggest waves might splash high enough to get the bow wet.

The boys have become quite interested in spinning. This is not tremendously surprising. Frequently I entertain myself by doing imaginary whitewater slalom upstream gates in the subtle eddies. Although I do some variations, typically this is just practicing the typical three stroke upstream, stern sweep into the eddy, pivot around vertical draw, and exit with a forward stroke. To entertain myself, many times I just go for the huge stern pivot with the bow far up into the air.

The boys' are not even wearing sprayskirts, yet. Still, they try as hard as they can to spin, lean back, and see if they can get the stern of their boats underwater. They are still so light, not much of the stern gets wet, but this does not dissuade them from trying valiantly.

This past weekend, I attended the first three days of an American Canoe Association Whitewater Kayak Instructor course. I coached whitewater slalom for over a decade, and some of the athletes I worked with even made it to the podium on the world stage. Still, I know my biggest weakness is teaching beginners. A big part of teaching, "never evers," is very slowly, very deliberately, demonstrating basic strokes.

The instructors recorded us demonstrating for video review. It was blatantly obvious I really need to work on my basic stroke demonstration. For the forward sweep, I was doing a forward sweep just like I was doing a three stroke upstream gate for whitewater slalom. It was way too fast and not very deliberate at all! On the drive home, I thought about this quite a bit, mostly visualizing the sequence much slower and much more deliberately.

Since the boys are interested in spinning, and I can use the practice teaching and demonstrating, I decided to see how receptive they were to learning the forward sweep this week. At the put-in, I may have spent five minutes teaching them the forward sweep. For the rest of the run, which only takes about an hour, even at our slow pace...Wyatt kept practicing the new skill he had just learned. I found this throughly entertaining, mostly because Wyatt was demonstrating the forward sweep far better than I had on Saturday!