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Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Surf Instructor?

By Daniel Alcock

It seems like a glamorous job, right? “Surf Instructor” just sounds exotic and a lot of fun. Having a trainee instructor over from the UK completing her practice hours with us at Surf Canaries Surf School, it gives the Canary News readers an insight into what it takes to become a surf instructor.

So in this article, we are focusing on Frankie's story, what she has had to do to get here and what the BSA require for her to be signed off as a fully fledged British Surfing Association surf coach…

Frankie Pioli is 18 years old from near Birmingham (not much surf there, right?! That we can explain later…) and is recently qualified by the BSA in her theoretical “Surf Coach Level I”.

What motivates Frankie is surfing. She just loves to surf and the job as surf instructor really appealed to her. On top of that, she is just setting out on a gap year between school and University so it is the ideal qualification to pick up if she wants to be in or around the water over the next few months.

…So you may pick me up on the point of being a surfer from Birmingham ! Living far from the coast is not ideal for a surfer. These surfers have to suffer for their art and drive miles to get a surf, often happy with any old waves that come their way! Frankie is definitely one of the latter and her upbringing far from the sea has made her an extremely passionate surfer and one that is keen to make up for lost time land-bound.

A good surfer with a natural style, Frankie completed her British Surfing Association (BSA) qualification in South Wales and went on to do her British Lifesaving Qualification (a week of gruelling tests in and out of the water to see if the student is physically and mentally apt to carry out beach rescue in any situation) in Devon.

Following these two essential parts of the course, the perspective BSA coaches must carry out their practice time at a registered BSA surf school and it is from here that we pick up the story at Surf Canaries Surf School on Gran Canaria, where Frankie applied to do her practice.

The check list for the hopeful instructor is long and detailed and holds very firm to the notion of safety and teaching technique. The instructor must be assessed on every aspect on giving classes, right from pre-class preparations before the students arrive at the school, through to the beach conditions' assessment and vital safety briefings.

What Does a Surf Instructor Need To Be?

In shape: There is no way you are getting through the British lifesaver's course if physically you don't make the cut in the water. You must be capable of withstanding the physical pace of life as a surf instructor; it is fast and furious as you are in the water all day every day… or moving boards… or on the roof of the van… not to mention surfing before and after work!

Reasonable surfing ability: There is a surfing standard assessment to get through the surf coaches course.

Safety minded: More than 85% of the course is structured around the safety of the student.

Cool head under pressure: In a rescue situation, a lifeguard must be calm and collected to carry out a well prepared rescue.

A person's person: At the end of the day, there is a lot of interaction with the client and it is very important that the instructor is personable and fun!

Passionate about surfing: Spending hours in the water pushing people into waves and tirelessly and patiently improving student's technique, the instructor must be truly passionate about surfing. The passion of the sport is transmitted through the instructor and if that spark is not there, it's just not going to work.

What makes a good instructor?

The trick of being an excellent instructor is blending an easy and fun style with a well tried and tested technique for ease of learning. Importantly, the instructor should be at the same time keeping everything “super safe”. An experienced and able instructor can do this without the student even noticing this aspect of the class, leaving them just to enjoy the experience and learn to their maximum capacity having maximum fun, and all in maximum safety.

Frankie has been an excellent practice student and a very popular instructor at Surf Canaries Surf School . She has finished her practice hours and is now a fully qualified BSA surf coach, ready to head off surfing around the world as one of these elite surf instructors!


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