Friday, March 20, 2009

Fear of Capsize

It seems that the most feared thing during the 1 Star course is the capsize drill.
Sometimes I feel that the only thing thats on the participant's mind is getting out of the kayak. I often see them dropping out of the kayak before it even turns upside down. Sometimes I see the capsized boat shaking violently from the violent kicking and trashing from a panicked participant.

I've had ideas of getting the participants to capsize and stay in the boat for as long as possible, but "as long as possible" could only mean 1 second to a panicked person.

For those who are really panicky I usually get them to hug the kayak, telling them to hug the kayak until they hear a loud thud from my banging on the hull. I then flip the kayak over, count to 5 before banging the hull.
There have been few successes with this method, but I've been using this as a last option.
Should I use this method from the start? A stepping stone leading up to an actual capsize?
Kinda feels like too much hand holding from the start though. Not really my style and it would take up quite a bit of time.


Wolfie said...

I'm actually surprised that they will wait for 5 counts before coming out of the boat!

Think about why the capsize drill is done; at 1 star level I think it is perfectly fine if the participants not stay under the water for the 3 counts!

What is important is the emphasis that they exit in the proper way, which many of them do not do so in their panic.

If you have the time and opportunity, introduce these kids to the water slowly first before putting them onto boats and doing the capsize drill straight.

Learn from swimming instructors - what do they do to introduce young kids to the water? Try things like asking them to cup water in their hands and breathe bubbles into it, immersing their heads in and doing the same, asking them to do backflips and forward flips underwater. Make it fun and the fear will disappear!

And that often means you have to (pretend to) be unconcerned with the course objectives. We're there to make them love paddling ultimately, if they love it eventually they will jump into it naturally.

Wanderlust said...

Hmm.. You make a good point there. Should be fine as long as they wet exit properly.
Must remind myself, this is only a introduction to the sport!

But its not always kids though... There have been adults who are afraid of water too. Dunno if blowing bubbles and stuff might seem too childish or condescending to them.
I can imagine them giving me weird looks when I tell them to blow bubbles or do backflips :)

Wolfie said...

Haha...I'm quite a cheerful person even when I teach in school, so it's easy for me to coax et them to do silly things. It's a personality thing in many ways...

Btw are you a L2 yet, or L2 trainee?

Wanderlust said...

Nah.. not even a L2 trainee.

Feel that I still dont have much experience to share. Would probably be short changing the participants.

I want to try more disciplines before I go for my L2.