Dan Hallam, UKSA’s chief watersports instructor, talks us through the skills required to become truly inspirational within this booming industry.
What do you need to become one of the best watersports instructors around? Certainly, it is not just the qualifications that will set you apart from the rest. Qualifying as a watersports instructor enables you to gain only half of the skills required to be an effective teacher. While these skills are important, it is your soft skills that are essential.
It is how you pass your knowledge on to others, how you develop strategies to manage groups where you have students with different levels of ability, and how you develop extension activities for those students that master the skills early in the session, so they do not become disengaged while the others catch up.
You must recognise that no two people are the same, that every pupil will approach learning in a different way and with a different learning style. There are traditionally believed to be three main learning styles: auditory (hearing), visual (seeing) and practical (doing). When we need to get a student to learn a new skill, we will often use a variety of these styles - we tell the students how to do it, then show them and then get them to try it for themselves. But what then? Just because you have used all three styles doesn’t mean everyone will have gained the skill. It is your role as an instructor to differentiate your sessions to ensure that all of your students achieve. It is this ability to develop different ways of explaining and demonstrating that will ensure success as an instructor.
Employers in the industry want multi-disciplined instructors who have the skills to work with a range of customers and the ability to teach sessions with enthusiasm, determination and passion.
Kayaking, dinghy sailing and windsurfing are considered the core instructor qualifications to have in your watersports portfolio. It is also important that these are industry recognised Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and British Canoe Union (BCU) qualifications.
A career in watersports is ideal for those that learn best in a practical environment, have good verbal communication skills and get on well with others. Employers also look for people with a passion for their watersports, who use their initiative and work well in a team.
Training to become a watersports instructor is a great alternative to university. As an instructor you can build a long-term career in the industry, as you gain more experience and qualifications you can move up to senior instructor right through to centre manager. It is becoming easier to have a year-round career as a watersports instructor, with centres now open in a wide range of new watersports destinations including India, China, and the Middle East.
Anna Timpson, oversea recruitment co-ordinator for Neilson Holidays, added:
“The UKSA interns that Neilson take on not only offer a multi-qualified Instructor which is incredibly useful out in resort but also instructors with really practical and relevant experience. All the candidates also seem to have very strong interpersonal skills and show real character which makes all the difference."
So how can you get started? UKSA, our youth education and maritime training academy based in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, offers a variety of watersport instructor career courses, giving you the opportunity to develop both the hard and soft skills required to be a highly desirable employee.
For example, the Watersports Instructor Training Plus programme teaches you the core instructor qualifications here and in sunny Egypt, but you also get the chance to spend an extra eight weeks developing advanced coaching and instructional techniques with UKSA’s experienced senior instructors. You will also upgrade your qualification portfolio by gaining extra RYA instructor endorsements including multi-hull, keelboat and performance sailing.
An alternative is our Intern programme, which following successful completion of the WIT Plus course, guarantees employment with either Neilson, Mark Warner or UKSA.
Everyone on career courses with UKSA benefits from personal mentoring and industry guidance sessions as part of the programme. These sessions, delivered by staff experienced in the industry, are designed to make you a well-rounded potential employee. UKSA has links with some of the biggest employers in the watersports industry around the world, and these companies, along with over 50 other watersports employers, advertise vacancies on the UKSA jobsite each year. This site can only be accessed by UKSA graduates, placing you in the perfect position to gain your dream job.
A number of UKSA’s watersports instructors have also extended their career by making the move into the yachting industry, by completing STCW Basic Training or higher level courses at the waterfront site. These instructors now work on some of the largest superyachts in the world.
Start your new career today and get in contact with UKSA, like them on Facebook here or give them a call on +44 (0) 1983 294941.