With the summer junior sailing season starting up next week, instructors, coaches, and directors from junior sailing programs around western Long Island Sound flocked to Larchmont Yacht Club on June 19 for the JSA of LIS' annual All-Instructor Symposium.
The day long training event featured a full slate of guest speakers and coaches who presented to instructors about topics ranging from rules to sports psychology. Over 200 instructors hoping to gain valuable knowledge for their summer sailing programs attended the event.
The day began with a keynote presentation by Jessica Mohler, the Coordinator of Sports Psychology Services at the US Naval Academy. Mohler spoke about how to be a good instructor and gave tips for understanding how young sailors think. A sailor herself, Mohler could speak from a unique perspective on how to work with each junior sailor’s personality to keep them engaged and having fun.
“I thought Ms. Mohler was really interesting,” recalled Sarah Hamm, head instructor at Pequot Yacht Club. “I liked learning about how there are different ways to coach.”
A popular session was one given by US Sailing Senior Judge John Mooney about rules and protests. While rules may often seem frustrating and uninteresting, Mooney thinks they can actually be fun, and offered some ways for instructors to make rules more enjoyable and relatable for young sailors.
“Mr. Mooney had a really nice presentation about how judges make decisions,” recounted Hamm, who thinks her sailors will greatly benefit from knowing that kind of information.
“I liked the rules session,” explained Connor Kasper, a first-year instructor at Darien Junior Sailing Team. “He really helped clarify some things I was fuzzy about.”
Another popular session was given by Alicia Martorella, Sailing Director at the WaterFront Center in Oyster Bay, NY, about Opti fun and games. Martorella, who has over 15 years of experience as a sailing instructor, urged instructors to put themselves in their sailors’ position when planning lessons and sailing activities.
“It’s hard for instructors or coaches of any sport to know what it’s like to not know how to do something,” explained Martorella to an audience of primarily beginner-Opti instructors. “Mix up demos, drills, activities, and games to keep it exciting for them”
The afternoon concluded with a presentation for all attendees about role models given by Eric Eisendrath from the Positive Coaching Alliance and a question and answer session with a panel consisting of the coaches who taught the smaller breakout sessions earlier that morning.
Eisendrath made many points about what makes a good coach, and what techniques have the most effective impact on kids. One of his main focuses was on coacing mentatlity, and he urged instructors to instill good values in their sailors by showing them the power of hard work and effort, rather than focusing solely on winning races.
Overall, instructors seemed to find the day both helpful and enjoyable.
“It was great how it was well organized,” Jack Schneider, a second year instructor at Belle Haven Yacht Club in Greenwich, CT, said on Wednesday after the workshop. “I think it got everyone hyped for the summer.”
For more photos from this event, please check out this album on our Facebook page, and while you're there, be sure to like the page if you haven't already to keep up to date on JSA news and events.