The Langley School Kayaking Academy was launched in September 2015 to provide the framework, encouragement and expertise for kayak athletes to excel in both sprint and marathon flat water racing.
The ambition is to enable each athlete to realise their potential as kayakers, whilst ensuring they also have the opportunity to excel in their academic studies. The Academy is open to all senior school athletes from years six to thirteen, though numbers are deliberately kept low so there are the resources to dedicate plenty of individual coaching time to each athlete.
The Academy’s training programme focuses on coaching technical paddle stroke accuracy at low stroke rates, learning to apply power at low stroke rates, symmetrical movement patterns, strong core muscles, strengthened neural pathways, and a periodised training plan for developing aerobic and anaerobic systems. Alongside this there is teaching on nutrition, tactics, race planning, breathing patterns and psychological preparation as well as many other topics.
It is an exciting atmosphere in which to train and there is the sense that the Academy is at the leading edge of something very special.
The Academy’s Philosophy
The Academy’s philosophy is to develop complete athletes with multiple skills and an ability to adapt. The training schedule emphasises correct movement patterns both on and off the water through multiple core gym sessions to develop core strength. We also incorporate cross training throughout the year through regular gym sessions, cycling, swimming, running, Bikram yoga, bouldering at the climbing wall and learning some basic gymnastic moves on the rings and parallel bars. However, the goal of achieving consistently faster kayak times on the water is always the primary focus and all cross training or gym sessions are shaped to achieve this.
The training plan is periodised over a year to ensure athletes maximise their potential and each training block has a different focus. Athletes may have different goals and training is adjusted to allow for this, or it may be adjusted if an athlete has specific needs or gaps in their development that need to be individually addressed.
The paddling sessions vary in number, focus and content depending on the time of year and the goals for that training block. They include K1, K2 and K4 skills, technical sprint sessions, race planning sessions, sessions targeting anaerobic development and strength development with bungees, as well as others with much more of an aerobic development emphasis.
Academy athletes are filmed multiple times on the water throughout the year from a launch or drone (for example at the technical training camp in Portugal, at regattas, as well as on the Large Broad in Norwich) and so are regularly able to watch and review their own paddling technique and performance with the coaches.
The Academy works in partnership with Norwich Canoe Club and this affiliation enables athletes to train and take part in one of the most successful clubs in the country. Norwich Canoe Club is always looking at ways to move forward and strives to be a centre of excellence and the Academy is extremely fortunate and grateful for this partnership.
The club is twenty minutes away from the school and has the use of an uninterrupted river, as well as two lakes, so is ideal for both sprint and marathon training.
VO2 Max testing
Tim has overseen 5 years of VO2 max testing with a wide variety of flat water kayakers at different times of the year. The test is on a Kayak Pro Ergo and is run in accordance with a power output protocol established in Australia. His spreadsheet of results provides useful comparisons for Academy athletes as they can assess their aerobic and anaerobic results in comparison with athletes who have gone on to be selected for major competitions.
Maximum Power Tests
The Academy also keeps a record of the maximum wattage output of athletes on the ergo which is a very useful guide to future potential and current development.
Nutrition and BMR Testing
A snack box is provided each day with extra food to eat between meals. Athletes also have the opportunity to undergo Basal Metabolic Rate testing, which in conjunction with a food diary and their training programme, allows a calculation to be made as to whether their calorific intake is enough to maximise their training. Nutritional education is part of the day to day life of the Academy.
Races and Events
The Academy provides transport to many events and in some cases accommodation. At the Nottingham Sprint Regattas, the Academy hires the Elms bungalow by the regatta course allowing athletes to shower and change easily between races if the weather is bad and relax in the warm. Food is provided all day.
Transport is generally organised for all of the following events too:
- All six regional Haslers (Athletes choose whether to race for their home club or NCC)
- All national sprint regattas at NWSC (Athletes choose whether to race for their home club or NCC)
- All Marathon National Championships (Athletes choose whether to race for their home club or NCC)
- All athlete assessment races (Athletes choose whether to race for their home club or NCC)
- Both athlete profiling days
- SRS or ENTS training weekends
- Waterside Series if it doesn’t clash with other training commitments (Athletes race for Langley School)
- Frank Luzmore K2 if it doesn’t clash with other training commitments (Athletes race for Langley School)
- National Schools Kayak Championships (Athletes race for Langley School)
The Academy organises a technical paddling training camp at the Nelo Training base in Porto Antigo, Portugal during the Autumn half term. This week of training focuses on technical development and also includes bungee sessions that fit with the Autumn block of strength training. Nelo provide all the kayaks and are hugely accommodating in ensuring the Academy have the opportunity to develop K1, K2 and K4 skills at the camp. The accommodation is by the water in the superb Porto Antigo hotel.
Langley School Kayaking Academy athletes (Tim Dowden and James How) are current National Schools Sprint and Marathon Champions.
If you are interested in finding out more about this hugely exciting and innovating project, please contact Academy Coach Tim Scott at the school on 01508 520210 or email email@example.com
The Academy wishes to thank the following for their help and support in its development: Norwich Canoe Club, British Canoeing, Nelo, Ivan Lawler, Trevor Kirkham, the Duffield’s and Jonathan Thursby.
The Coaching Team
Tim Scott, (UKCC British Canoeing Level 3 Racing Coach) oversees the training program for all Academy athletes and is supported by the Langley Strength and Conditioning team, the on-site School Physio and the Resident Graduate for the Kayaking Academy, Jess Northcote, who provides the link between the Academy and the School. Jess is in charge of the day-to-day organisation and logistics for the Academy, the food, the Academy’s account and budget, and is also the main correspondence for parents, teachers and external personnel. She drives and accompanies the kayakers to all training sessions and competitions and is on site for any personal, academic, sporting or pastoral issues.
Tim also coaches at Norwich Canoe Club and is part of the clubs Senior Coaching Team as well as being the British Canoeing Sprint Based Coach at the club, so this provides a link for both the club and school. Tim has been coaching for many years coaching and has been fortunate to spend many sessions alongside national coaches training Olympians and this has given him an opportunity to understand their technical perspective. This leaves him extremely well placed to pass their coaching philosophy along the British Canoeing Talent Pathway to the athletes he trains.
There are also other specialist support staff who are part of the Academy team such as Jennifer Moss, the Bikram yoga teacher.