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UKCC Level 3 coaching award

UKCC Level 3 coaching award

glenmore-lodge-logo-smallBy Dave Rossetter – Head of Paddlesport Coaching at Glenmore Lodge

I started off all the series of coaching articles looking at the coaching awards and the progression through them. I have spent the rest of them mainly looking at coaching ideas and principles. These have been technical and tactical options for various aspects of paddling. They have also covered aspects of how to improve – improve as a coach and as a paddler. Covering topics such as practice, communities and planning they have focused on what coaches can use to aid them in their delivery and work with paddlers.

In this article I want to pause on that and take a more in depth look at the UKCC Level 3 award. Each of the areas in the previous articles is part of the tools on hand for a Level 3.


What British Canoeing states
A BCU (UKCC) Level 3 Coach is a discipline specialist coach who is able to plan, implement, and analyse long-term development programmes. This is an appropriate level of coach for a person to be in charge of paddlesport activities in a club/centre or as a working professional. As they are likely to be working with participants for up to a year. From Level 3 onwards, coaches will specialise in one or more of the disciplines or environments.

The BCU Level 3 Certificate in Paddlesport Coaching Award is relevant to potential coaches from all paddlesport disciplines including coaches who might work with competitive and non-competitive paddlers. The award develops the foundation coaching skills taught at Level 2 that will underpin future coaching behaviours and practice.


  • The BCU Level 3 coach can operate in a moderate water environment in the discipline specific area of their assessment.
  • The BCU Level 3 coach can train and assess paddlers for the BCU 1-3 Star and Paddlepower (where meeting specific requirements).

Process The pathway is highlighted in the model (figure 1 overleaf). It is a modular approach with a few points where you come together for the more formal training. The whole process can take up to four years to complete from the core training through the final assessment. However, many coaches complete much quicker.


The two training courses – ‘Core’ and ‘Discipline’ specific – are an opportunity to get together with like-minded coaches and get set up for the next steps on the process. The supplementary programme is self-managed. It does need to be complete before going onto the discipline specific training however; it can be done at any time leading up to that. It is designed for you to pick up the physiological and / or psychological aspects of coaching paddlesport. Technical/Tactical aspects (for recreational based disciplines) is picked up through the Moderate Water Endorsement award.


Pathway and content model
Level 3 prerequisites

Home nation registration

Level 3 core training

  • Introduction to BC Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport.
  • Analyse participants’ current and potential performance, needs and aspirations.
  • ‘How’ to coach – an in depth look at and use of the level 3 coaching behaviours.
  • Individualised coaching strategies.
  • Plan a long-term programme according to agreed goals.
  • Manage a safe and effective coaching environment.
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of a coaching programme.

Level 3 supplementary programme

  • Optimising Fitness and Performance 1.
  • Optimising Fitness and Performance 2.
  • Coaching the Mind for Paddlesport.
  • BC Moderate Water Endorsement (BC Level 3 Coach).

Home nation registration

Level 3 discipline specific training
Applied discipline specific delivery and mentoring looking at the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the coaching process in the context of the chosen discipline environment.

The full TTPP components are explored in this two-day course.

Level 3 candidate assessment portfolio
Candidates complete and gather evidence for the assessment tasks.

Candidates are working with their long-term students for 8-12 months working through agreed annual plans.

Level 3 final assessment day
Three final assessment tasks assessed during a practical assessment day.

Level 3 Certification


Core training
This three-day course sets the whole process up. It takes the core competencies from the UKCC Level 2 and develops / builds on them. The course takes place generally on sheltered/inclusive water where all disciplines are catered for. The generic nature of coaching is covered where sharing ideas and knowledge adds to the coach’s behaviours. The main focus areas:

  • Observation and analysis leading to building profiles.
  • Skills for developing ours and others coaching.
  • Longer term coaching behaviours.
  • Annual planning and building programmes.
  • Strategic coaching decisions.
  • Strategies for individualisation.

These six core areas focus the on the generic nature of coaching. The tutors will structure the course to allow maximum participation using a mixture of on-water and classroom sessions. Discipline specific training This two-day course is where the components of the core and supplementary programmes are put together in the specific environment. Coaches are supported by the tutors looking at ‘what’ to coach using the ‘how’ to coach behaviours.

This is a crucial part of the process. The tutors are there to support the coaches with their coaching and provide mentoring leading to the coach developing an action plan going forward.

Between this training and the final assessment the coach will be working through their portfolio and completing assessment tasks along the way.

Development phase/building portfolios
The real training takes place in this stage. Building the portfolio around the coaching of long-term students is where the coach learns the trade. Putting into practice and developing the sophistication in our coaching is what this part helps us with. By identifying a small team of paddlers to coach the candidate will be able to build, with them, a plan for their development. This profiling and identification of their ‘needs’ along with their wants allows the coach to target their coaching towards meeting these goals. It is also an opportunity for the coach to create and establish their coaching identity. Building on who they are as coach and what is critical for them in their coaching they will target their development against their weaker areas.

The portfolio process provides opportunity for the coach to reflect on their coaching and the process that they are going through. This reflection will be via a few varying methods.

Time spent reflecting on the coaching sessions with development team
Taking time after coaching to reflect on the session is a brilliant way to analyse our own performance. There are a few questions that we can ask ourselves to help:

  • Did I meet the goals that we set out to do?
  • If so why – what did I do that meant that we succeeded?
  • What did my paddlers do to aid in this?
  • If we didn’t achieve the goal what happened?
  • What do I need to change for next time?

Time spent reflecting on the whole process of the annual plan
The whole level 3 process is about longer-term coaching. It take time to develop an annual plan for/with the paddlers so it is only right that we evaluate this process. As above we should be asking ourselves critical questions about our performance. Identifying when we made decisions to keep the plan on track allows us to learn from this and hopefully avoid making similar mistakes. Also identifying the points along the way that surprised us, we did well with and what worked means that we can more strategic again in the future.


Mentoring of other coaches
Being able to have discussions with other coaches ensures that the verbalising of our thoughts deepens our understanding. This helps us with our knowledge and challenges our technical/tactical understanding as well as helping identify and recognise the ‘how’ of coaching.

Being strategic is a vital part of the Level 3 coaching behaviours so therefore being able to discuss with another coach what happened and different ways to progress aids with the strategic decision-making process.

Being mentored
Having a trusted mentor help us understand what we did and what we could have done challenges us as a coach. This challenge allows us to be sure of ourselves as a coach which gives us confidence in what we are doing and why we are doing it the way are. However, it also forces us to recognise if there are other ways of coaching. All of this means that we are constantly improving ourselves to help develop our paddlers. This shouldn’t stop at Level 3!

Hopefully this gives a flavour of what to expect on the Level 3 process and answers some questions. Depending on your coaching role then this award could be for you. Anyone who coaches over a longer period of time with paddlers should see this as an award that is very achievable and ensure that you add to your tool box of ‘how’ to coach to meet your students needs and wants. Happy paddling/coaching

dave rossetter coachingDave Rossetter
Dave is Head of Paddlesports at Glenmore Lodge – Scotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre. He has been involved in the development of the new awards and provides expert advice throughout the industry on all things to do with coaching, safety, leadership and personal paddling. He is passionate about all things paddling and specialises in white water kayak and open canoe where he will most often be found.

About thepaddlerezine (654 Articles)
Editor of The Paddler magazine and Publisher of Stand Up Paddle Mag UK.

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