AccesSportAmerica offers "learn by doing" programs. That is, we like to limit verbal instruction and demonstration to be as brief, but effective as possible and get on the water within minutes of athlete's arrival. We've developed protocols and systems of hands-on, or nearby, support in which we can demonstrate and assist for quicker and highly effective teaching. For safety and for effectiveness, we usually establish a one-to-one ratio of trainer and athlete.
As example, with our 4 person Hawaiian Outrigger canoes we will often first seat athletes. Then, in the space of 3 minutes we might demonstrate proper grips, one aspect of proper paddling, and push off from shore. On the water, we build an understanding of seat assignments, how and when to switch paddling from one side to the other, and safety issues. We also talk of the Hawaiian culture and the uniqueness of being a team in one of these wonderful boats. We generally work on one of six protocols in an Outrigger session - straight arms, paddling in sync as a crew, "stir the soup" or quiet paddling, shortening strokes, power, and endurance. The sessions begin with light warm up paddling. Next we might go to a drill like 8 stroke races in which the crew with fewest out of sync strokes wins. We usually conclude with a race against other boats which ends with good sporting by telling the others they were terrific, whether in victory or defeat. Aloha spirit is always encouraged.
Windsurfing is more individualized instruction. We start with very stable boards. We've invented several styles from tandem catamarans with seats or standers to wide single boards. We teach windsurfing more by feel and intuition than by too much verbal instruction. The commands are simple from 'tilt the sail forward or back' to 'close the door or open the door'. The motion of the sail is aided often by a trainer on the athlete's board who can hold the mast. Later trainers sail or stand-up paddle next to athletes and help similarly to hold up their sail, keep them balanced, or to direct their board and actions. No one goes for a "ride". Everyone has to have input and be a part of the sail. Depending on the athlete's comfort we'll go for long or short sails. Even a 10 minute sail will go a long way in giving an athlete confidence.
Our teaching on land often allows for greater athlete to trainer ratio. In our Conditioning & Sports program with Soccer, for example- we use games to engage our athletes doing oblique crunches or finishing song phrases before coming up from a squat. Then we work on aerobic conditioning using options like obstacle courses or other movement drills, often with soccer balls. The point is to safely elevate the heart rate of our athletes for a few minutes. Even if the athlete is in a power chair we might emphasize something like raising their legs and arms or rocking while moving in the chair. Next we teach a soccer skill - for example, trapping the ball, learning to pass with the inside of the foot or a scissors move. This is the last half hour of class; the focus eventually is to use the skill in a game in the last 10-15 minutes. Again, the drills are fun and driven by team competition. The drills can be relay races, juggling contests or even soccer bowling (kicking balls off cones). The final game is small sided so everyone gets a chance for many touches on the ball. Each session ends with a cheer.
Our athletes, their families, teachers, the community-at-large, and our partners and collaborators are learning that each athlete can do more than ever thought possible as accomplishments on the water or land carry over into everyday lives.