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Sharing the stoke of any sport is the goal of the educator. At Shellback, we think of ourselves as TICs, a phrase coined by our friend Todd Johnstone-Wright. We are Teachers, Instructors and Coaches.  We TEACH paddlesports by giving a set of INSTRUCTIONS and we COACH the student along by building on a connected series of actions. Each success sets the path for the next level of instruction.


Living the dream for us is having a student that wants to learn and is willing to develop their skills over a period of time, working on a progression that is right for them.  Long term development.

SUP is an easy sport to do but is quite challenging to master. True mastery of a sport can only come from long term skill development.

Phase I

The summer of 2016 we began teaching our niece Riely how to SUP.  She liked it and decided she wanted to learn more and set a goal of eventually becoming an ACA SUP instructor. This included 2 days of instruction mixed with some local lake touring. The third day was on-water coaching with a video shoot of her Level 1 skills. 

Level 1 Skills

The skills demonstrated in the video are what we consider Level 1.  These are basic maneuvering skills that include understanding simple physics of how the board and paddle work, and the bio-mechanics of how the body works.  SUP is easy enough that most people can try it, you just stand up and paddle, right?  It takes some balance and understanding paddle use, however to improve it requires gaining knowledge and learning skills.

Riely was taught SUP in a progression that developed knowledge and skills in an order that allowed her to improve quickly.  She had time to practice and get coached along the way.  This process builds on reinforcing the actions that are done correctly and improving those that need work.


In Phase I she learned to go forward, stop, reverse, turn, move sideways and to brace to keep from falling off of her board. Most importantly, she learned to move her feet as well as the concept of using her body to pull, push and pry the paddle. 


* Not shown in the video were skills she learned while falling off and getting back on the board.

Phase II

In January 2017 Riely came to visit for 2 weeks with the goal being to paddle as much as we could.  She hadn't had any practice since summer so we would be able to see how much she had retained. It was great feedback for our teaching scheme. Being winter it was windy and cold but we found the opportunity to paddle on 4 different occasions.


We reviewed Level 1 skills, added more strokes and maneuvers,  worked on rescues and recoveries and learned new footwork.  We had time for classroom work which covered many aspects of being an ACA instructor, practical navigation, compass and other SUP topics that an instructor needs to know. 

Riely has most of the skills, information and knowledge to become an ACA Level 1 instructor.  She is lacking practical application and experience. 

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