DVD Review: Kayak Essentials

Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Kayak Essentials DVDA couple of weeks ago I wrote about a new kayak skills DVD just released called Kayak Essentials. I was very pleased to get a copy in the mail to review.

Kayak Essentials is produced by BCU coaches Nick Cunliffe, Matt Giblin and Lynsey Evans. They are all extremely well qualified instructors and it’s very evident that they did their homework with this project. The kayaking skills demonstrated throughout the DVD are good and the production for a training video is top rate.

Clocking in at roughly an hour and an half, Kayak Essentials focuses on the core skills for flatwater, whitewater and sea kayaking.

The one thing I noticed right off the start is that the video isn’t flashy at all. At first I was thinking, “Ugh oh, what have we got here?” but then I was pleasantly surprised that the lack of flash was made up for by the depth of knowledge in skills that the DVD presented. Every time a new skill is introduced they take the time to go through the stroke; carefully pointing out the key elements as well as common problems beginners usually have. Scattered throughout are extra challenges and simple coaching tips to remember when out paddling on your own.

I appreciated the extensive use of slow motion and graphics. The arrows and circles used throughout allowed me to clearly see what the narrator wanted me to focus in on. It was particularly helpful when they are demonstrating something technical and complex like the forward stroke or something subtle like edge angles in whitewater.

Beginners will like the fact that the narration is written at a level that they can easily watch and understand yet not dumbed down like so many other instructional videos on the market. The narrator is assuming that you are an adult and can understand words above a grade 3 level.

Intermediate paddlers will be pleased with the depth of knowledge covered as it often goes into intermediate or even early advanced territory. It’s one of those videos with so much material you will need to watch it several times to learn and absorb it all.

Kayak Essentials can also be a good resource for new and intermediate instructors. By watching the video, you can see how any major stroke is broken down and taught with a good progression. If you are a new instructor, pay close attention and to how they describe the complex skills (eg. forward stoke) and make note of the key points they emphasise. Steal their ideas, make them your own and you will a more effective instructor or coach.

Is Kayak Essentials God’s gift to students? No. As mentioned earlier, the DVD is about content and not flash. Think of it like a high school text book, the pacing is very deliberate and even but at some points a touch slow. I found myself jumping ahead when I got bored and coming back later when I had the mental energy to absorb more skills.

Here is a video sample of the forward stoke section:



You can order a copy of Kayak Essentials at www.kayakessentials.co.uk. Be aware that the DVD is only available in PAL format so North American customers will probably not be able to watch it on their home DVD unless it’s PAL compatible. It will however, probably play just fine on your computer DVD but make sure you do your research before ordering to avoid disappointment.

Final verdict? Get it. You will learn a ton.

Here is an awesome out-take clip:






David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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