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Supported by Trinity House

Either oar

Continue learning and developing your paddle sports skills with the next step in your journey.

You will need

  • Paddle sports equipment

Before you begin

  • These instructions have been adapted from the British Canoeing Paddle Awards, which should be referred to for any further details.
  • Getting ready. Safety is a top priority in all water activities and helping the group to understand what safety equipment they’ll need and what clothes to wear can help calm any nerves and encourage people to think more about safety.
    • Clothing. Think about the types of clothing that’ll be suitable for the weather conditions. For example, lightweight fabrics, wind and waterproofs, and items that protect the wearer from the sun. Is everyone OK with their clothes getting wet or dirty? Are there any items of clothing that’d be more suitable than others? Are shoes and clothing secure enough that they won’t come off in the water? The right clothing is important to keep everyone warm and comfortable. If people are cold and uncomfortable, they won’t have a good time.
    • Equipment. Understanding our equipment can help us to learn how to use it and make decisions for ourselves about what we need. Learning how to check equipment is a great skill too, as we can look for any damage or signs of wear and tear. Spotting these things early helps us keep our gear up to scratch. Before heading out on the water, speak with the person running this activity about what’ll be provided and what everyone will need to bring along. If people purchase their own equipment, make sure you discuss how to care for it, so that it’s protected from saltwater, the sun and incorrect storage.
    • Venue. Learning how to choose a great venue can be the difference between a great day on the water and a mediocre one. Taking an active part in researching and choosing the venue can help everyone to understand what goes into planning paddle sport sessions.
    • Getting on the water. This isn’t as simple as carrying a boat to the bank and hopping in. We need to think about keeping ourselves and the environment safe as we go.
    • Safety. Choose the best way to move the boat. Do you need one person carrying or four? Where does the boat need to go? Are there any obstacles to watch out for?
    • Access. Make sure you have permission to access the water. There are a variety of licences that may be required for your use of some bodies of water. Guidance is available in Canal and river licences.
    • Environment. It’s important not to damage or destroy the environment as we launch, to make sure it’s sustained for others for years to come. We also need to think about the weather and the flow of the water. Will the wind or current push the boats away or is there a better place to launch?
  • Remember, to achieve the Paddle Sports Stage 2, everyone needs to:
    • Lift, carry and launch a boat.
    • Paddle forward in a straight line.
    • Show they can steer around a course.
    • Show they can stop the boat safely.
    • Show they can exit the boat onto the shore safely.
    • Capsize, swim to the shore and empty the boat of water.
  • On the water. There’s a few more things to think about, beside further developing skills.
    • Paddling. Continue to explore new and different ways of paddling and controlling the craft. Can I move the boat with fewer strokes or less effort? How can I do this? Can I steer and stop easily? How does my body position affect the boat, its direction and performance?
    • Safety and rescue. Everyone must take an active role in keeping everyone, including themselves, safe. Am I close enough to the bank or other group members? Do I have all of the correct safety equipment and do I know how to use it?
    • Other users. There can be lots of other types of craft, people and wildlife to keep an eye out for. Can I safely move out of the way of other craft? How do I avoid disturbing wildlife? What are the rules for steering clear of other users?


As you improve your paddlesport skills and spend more time on the water, it’s time to start making your own decisions. Reflecting on what you’ve learnt and achieved is also important to keep improving. What went well and what could’ve been better about the session? What did everyone get the hang of, and what still needs some more work? What might be best to focus on next time?

Peer-to-peer coaching and reflection is a great combination to help everyone learn and get the feedback they need from people you trust. Watching what others do and how they do it can help to improve your own skills and see different ways to do things, while helping others in their journeys too.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.

Heavy and awkward objects

Don’t lift or move heavy or awkward items without help. Break them down into smaller parts if possible.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Near water

Manage groups carefully when near water. The guidance on activities near water will help you to keep your group safe.