Online coaching

Online coaching

Paul Arden | Wednesday, 11 May 2022

I thought I would write a proper FP today, since I’ve been covering a fair bit – and also in a chaotic rush these past few weeks, with hosting Dirk and soon-to-arrive Mika and Satu. I would like to talk a little about my online flycasting coaching. This is not because I want any more students, because I don’t! With open Malaysian borders I’m busy again hosting trips and with this, the TV show and my current students, I simply don’t have time to accept any more students. Sorry about that; but I will accept more in the future I’m sure.

One of the reasons positions are so limited is because I encourage a lot of two-way communication in-between lessons using WhatsApp. It’s not uncommon for a question to come up while practising and so I ask my students to message them over when they appear. We also use videos between lessons; emailed or messaged and I’m also exploring the OnForm App. As you can imagine this all takes time but it makes a huge difference to everyone’s progress, as well as to my teaching and lesson plans. This communication loop is very important for both coaches and students. Sometimes as a coach you miss the mark, and with constant feedback you can correct this as well as tighten up your teaching for the future.

The Sexyloops Zoom coaching has been really quite fascinating. For one thing the vast majority of my students book a package of 12 lessons. Now if you are an instructor this will make your ears wiggle because if you are like me, you will rarely, if ever, have had such dedication before!

You can do a lot in 12 lessons. 12 lessons generally takes about 6 months and believe me when I tell you, that when a student books 12 lessons they are already working on their casting and they all… drumroll… practise! All my students practise a minimum of 3 times a week and most, if not all in fact, practise daily.

Given that scenario they cannot but help to make significant gains in their casting prowess. They just need direction and a coach’s eye over their technique with suggested changes to try as well as specific tailored drills to reinforce.

The great thing about giving courses like this, is that you can really build solid structure to their techniques. I say “techniques” because at the core of what I teach is Closed Stance Accuracy, Open Stance Distance and Stopless/170.

I also plan lessons devoted to loop plane/rod plane – as in all rod planes and all loop planes, independent of each other, Roll and Dynamic Roll casting, Spey casting, Presentation Casts, dealing with all wind directions, casting heavy flies and both Saltwater and Snakehead shots (the last is in case they visit me here sometime, which hopefully they all do!).

We cover Stop, Stopless and Pull-back quite early on, as well as line management and more advanced hauling techniques (generally instructors finish teaching the Double Haul when the basic haul is learned, but I think that there is so much more to Double Hauling than only the basics and it should involve at least one dedicated lesson). The Belgian Cast, inverted loops, mangrove shots and change of loop planes etc are all covered with the “all-planes” class. Right at the core for me however is this Closed/Open/170, which is “ground up” casting form that everything else hangs on.

Typically my first lesson (remember my students are experienced to begin with) is Closed Accuracy, Open Distance and Double Hauling. Typically when they book they can already throw 70-80’ with a few being 100’+ casters. They can all double haul to a point. Typically half are SW anglers and the other half are training for CCI or at least with that also in mind. (I don’t like only CCI or MCI training because it’s a narrower course structure but if this is the goal then we do it).

I’ve been doing this fully online for about 18 months now and it’s been fascinating; I have learned a huge amount myself. I also give one-off lessons to those who buy Sexyloops HT rods. Not everyone who purchase takes a lesson (despite being free and coming with the rod!). I really suggest that if you buy a HT rod then take a Zoom meet with me! I can definitely help improve your cast in some small way at the very least and besides, it is always nice to meet and chat about fishing!!

Something I’ve been doing for a very long time now for HT owners, is to go through instructor theory via email (is that another good reason to buy an Instructor rod? I believe it is!).

What has been working extremely well for me and my students is the parallel learning tracks that teaching two or indeed three techniques provide. Closed Stance Accuracy helps distance casting. No question. How, you ask? I believe it’s down to tracking and the blocked forearm power application on the backcast.  Taking a closed accuracy stroke, adding weight shift and torso twist creates the Open Stance distance technique. Most casters use far too wide a casting arc for the length of line carried, particularly on a backcast. Even with an 80’ carry the casting arc is relatively short and mostly down to a flip of the wrist.

The 170 is an interesting one. Apart from opening up quartering headwind shots for SW anglers, it can often teach very smooth effortless force application. Consequently these three core techniques are what makes up the core of my online teaching. I’ve been graduating to teaching the 170 to general students over the last 20 years (and not only the competitors) but now I make it part of every advanced students teaching. What is a backhand delivery if it’s not a 170 backcast?

It’s funny what you learn online, because having used this “three-lane casting highway” via online students I can clearly see that this is what I should be teaching in person too! But how to get people to book 12 "in-person" lessons is the dilemma!! I suspect that may be totally impossible unless he/she is your neighbour – and the chances of that, for me here in the jungle, are next to zero. It doesn’t matter however, because everyone is “my neighbour” on the Internet.

Incidentally something I have discovered more and more over the past year or so, is that no one understands the 170 from Board or online teaching descriptions. At some point I shall have to find the time to talk about different power applications between the respective casting techniques and how to use the body to it happen. That information is not currently available anywhere to my knowledge, not even on Sexyloops. For example experiencing shoulder pain with the 170 quite possibly means that it is not being done correctly. Morsie for example is using it to *reduce pressure* on his shoulder. So I know he is doing it correctly! If you can throw a Frisbee then you can 170. Of course it's possible that shoulder injuries prevent the 170, even executed solely as an elbow straightening movement.

Ok doke and with that I have to get the boat ready for Mika and Satu!! Day of boat organising, some fishing and a training swim (I’m loving swimming at the moment). Today’s POD is the 170 backcast position from which point everything begins. To start with, it’s far easier to learn off the horizontal plane. More on this and other thoughts on body use and power application on some future page!

Cheers, Paul