TEACHING KITESURFING TO KIDS
Teaching kitesurfing to kids is a topic older than the children we are talking about – obviously there are different approaches to this issue. It’s sure that it works differently than for adults and requires a separate methodology.
This text concerns our approach to the topic, developed on our own experience in training children. One thing is certain – children should take their first steps in a kiteschool. Kitesurfing is considered an extreme sport for a reason. Not everyone practices it extremely, but the equipment can generate a lot of strength, allows developing high speed and break into high flights.
Everything takes place in water, which can be deep, wavy, with currents. No matter if we are talking about a safe place, there are other dangers, such as the very shore and obstacles on it.
We really believe that experience in teaching, the ability to predict the consequences of mistakes and reacting before these consequences occur, the ability to choose the right methods for a particular student, the ability to choose the perfect equipment for a particular lesson and knowledge of the water area and wind conditions at this place – minimizes the risk of accidents.
And not only accidents that are really dangerous but also those that can permanently discourage the student from this sport. Of course, this also applies to adults, but especially to children. Hence the assumption that teaching kids kitesurfing means teaching in conditions controlled by the instructor.
There are various answers to the question when a child can start learning – 8/10/12 years old, at least 30 kg, mature (what does maturity mean in this context?).
We say: most of all – internal motivation. You don’t need to verify your kids motivation deeply before starting classes, the first lesson usually gives a clear answer on this issue.
But lack of strong motivation doesn’t mean that the child should go back to splashing in the swimming pool and forget about kitesurfing for the next few years.
Lessons with less motivated children, less focused, as well as younger and lighter are simply going more towards playing with kitesurfing.
It starts with a trainer kite. Getting a grip with it really speeds up learning to control the proper kite. It’s completely safe and resembles traditional kite flying. It’s possible to smuggle a little bit of wind theory at this stage. Then we show kitesurfing equipment and its set up.
The kid doesn’t have to be able to prepare a full set, but will know what parts it consists of, what they are called or how to attach the lines. Then we enter the water with a full-sized kite, which is constantly connected only to the instructor.
There are many ways to play with a kite, which at the same time gives the child a taste of sport, such as bodydrags on the instructor’s back or waterstarts on the board and short piggyback rides or rides on the board in front of the instructor (between the legs). The kid gets to experience the strength of the kite, the dynamics of the start, the feeling of sliding the water surface.
Its also kind of a presentation how the bar is held, how it works, how the kite is moving while starting and riding. All this time the kid gets information in an accessible way on how it all works. And is also just having a great time.
At this stage, children very often ask lots of questions. They already know the taste of this sport, they get the appetite for more. This is how the motivation for learning awakens in them.
If the child wants to continue and is able to stay determined and focused – it’s time for next steps (of course, in the case of older kids, about 12 years old and more, jumps on the back of the instructor can be skipped). After mastering the trainer kite, getting familiar with safety rules and seeing how the gear works in the water, it’s time to hook up to the kite.
At the same time, the instructor remains attached with the leash to the student. At this point we use a kite of a small size, so regardless of the mistake made, the kite can’t resist the weight of both the kid and the instructor.
In the conditions we have in our shallow bay, the instructor, despite being connected to the student, has the possibility to carry out all the exercises included in the adult course until the first board ride. And when the kid is ready for it, he or she is usually better prepared for it than most adults at the same time. This is due to a simple and well-known fact: children learn faster than adults. They have better movement memory, they eliminate mistakes faster. Kids are flexible, they have a sharp sense of balance and great reflex.
To sum up, if parents want to show their kids various disciplines, including sports, in which they can develop if they want, kitesurfing can be one of those disciplines. It’s just important that it happens under the guidance of a professional and that the lessons are adapted to this child (and not vice versa).
Before choosing a place / school, give notice that such a student is signing up for a course and make sure that the school has experience in teaching kids. It’s easy to verify on the spot whether the place is prepared for the youngest students (trainer kite, small kites – 5, 6 meters, small harnesses, wetsuits).
And may the wind be with them!