Siebel Coaches Train at United States Olympic and Paralympic Center


By Chris Childers

I have always really enjoyed teaching. Yes, teaching sailing in particular, but teaching generally is always something that I have gravitated towards. I started teaching sailing at 16, and I have stuck with it for so long now because it combines these two things that I love so much.

Last week, I got to spend time with a lot of people who feel the same way.

Our Siebel Select Coaching Camp took place from January 11-15, 2020 at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s (USOPC) Training Facility in Colorado Springs. Twenty representatives from 10 sailing centers and the US Sailing Siebel Team participated in the camp. We stayed in the same dorms that the athletes stay in when they train here and had meals at the same cafeteria.

Many of our participants said, “It was inspiring and motivating,” to participate in these activities at this special venue. “Taking us out of the context of sailing was beneficial for this specific training and its focus. The USOPC was buzzing with energy and inspiration. Unlike at a regular conference center or hotel, I felt deeply connected to the athletic facet of our sport. For me, it was incredibly inspiring to be literally on the same field of play as these athletes.”

We heard from experts outside of our sport, like Ken Martell of USA Hockey who introduced the American Youth Development Model and got us thinking about what kinds of activities and competitions are appropriate for various student age groups and skill levels. He encouraged us to think about designing practice and competitive activities in a way that fits with a student’s social, emotional, physical and mental development. Additionally, national coach development expert Nadine Dubina with the USOPC, related the science behind how we communicate with our athletes to think about their own movements for increased performance. Sailing center directors talked about how our programs are being implemented across the country.

Some of the sessions we participated in focused on helping us retain a “beginner’s mindset”. It had been a long time since anybody in that room had been a beginner, and it’s easy to forget what that feels like. Nadine showed us how different coaching styles affect how we learn a brand-new activity. We even got some court-time for a lesson in wheelchair basketball.

My favorite parts of the week were when we really zero-ed in on the teaching and learning mindset. Most of the attendees were program directors and coaches and we found out early, during an icebreaker exercise, that teaching was an important part of our passion for sport for each of us.

One great opportunity that the Siebel Sailors Program has is to help develop and standardize tools and resources for coach development across the sport.  Between attending Camps like these to hear from experts within and outside sailing, providing mentors and mentoring opportunities for younger coaches at a local level, and reducing barriers to coach education and certification, the Siebel Sailors Program is redefining the sailing school experience for the next generation!

Learn more about the Siebel Sailors Program.