With the world in lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the transition towards digital, organisations had to adjust their business models and start investing in digital-first strategies. From the world’s most iconic SUP races such as MOLOKAI TO OAHU becoming a global virtual event with a welcoming motto “Anyone. Anywhere. Anything Goes” to a Zoom-powered, SUP-specific training – The SUP industry went online too.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) also responded to these challenges by developing and introducing new guidelines for the online delivery of the ISA Education Courses for surf and SUP instructors, judges and enthusiasts around the globe.

These guidelines allowed for ISA Coaching and Instructing Courses to be delivered with a blended approach of both virtual instruction and an extended timeframe for the practical requirements for certification.

Following a successful delivery of the virtual ISA Surf Level 1 and ISA Flat Water SUP Courses in the UK and with a significant interest from the international SUP community, ISA Course Presenter Andy Joyce, ran the ISA Flat Water Level 1 SUP Instructor Course this past weekend for a group of Polish and English SUP riders where four participants were from Poland alone.

“It’s been an extremely challenging year. I ran my first virtual course with only four-day notice! There was so much hard work developing online resource quickly with concern that it might have been a temporary measure,” said Andy Joyce, SUP and surf Coach, Surfing England Adaptive Team Manager and ISA Course Presenter. “In the eight months since we have adapted and overcome the obstacles in delivery, we’ve found that the demand for online ISA courses is still incredibly strong. I feel so stoked that there are so many positives in this online delivery! We can reach a global audience more easily and cost effectively than before, while still providing a high-quality service. Lastly, the courses help connect the isolated community and a focal point for us all to meet new people. So important in these times!”

Andy Joyce, SUP and surf Coach, Surfing England Adaptive Team Manager and ISA Course Presenter

“Attending the ISA Flat Water Instructor Course seems like a natural progression when you want to take people on the water and show them what a great sport stand-up paddleboarding is. For me the course is a step towards an essential and globally recognised qualification consolidating my SUP knowledge and skills,” said Gosia Szłapczyńska, Founder of a lifestyle SUP blog SUPerka. “Taking part in the course delivered by Andy Joyce has demonstrated new ways and techniques of conducting SUP lessons. I did not feel limited by the online format. Everything was clearly presented, explained and discussed in a lovely group of people who share the same passion for the sport.”

Gosia Szłapczyńska / SUPerka

“My main focus is SUP racing. I really enjoy competing and I combine it with coaching and beginner SUP lessons. I would like to progress and develop my skills to do it professionally, in an informed, safe manner. I found all of that at the ISA SUP Instructor Course,” said Faustyna Andrzejak, Team Rider for JP Australia Poland and Founder of SUP66. “My impressions? I was stunned that despite all my previous experience I have gained so much hands-on knowledge and new information about paddleboarding! I can’t thank enough the Coach, Andy Joyce and Anna Nadolna, Andy’s former student and now a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor, who supported us with translations!”

Faustyna Andrzejak / JP Australia Poland / SUP66

“In Poland, the sport of stand-up paddleboarding is just kicking off. I would like to show that it’s a real SPORT ACTIVITY, rather than just an alternative to kayaks, pedalos or pool inflatables. For me SUP is a lifestyle thing I want to share with others, so taking part in the ISA Flat Water Course was the next move for me,” said Dominka Głąb, Co-Founder of a sports and recreation brand, Banana. “Passion is an awesome mechanism that makes us constantly improve our skills and thanks to completing the theoretical part of the course I can move up a gear! The course provided me with a lot of valuable tips and practical information. I’m very happy and I know my future SUP students will be too!”

Dominka Głąb / Banana

“I have learnt some new ways to motivate and inspire my future students,” said Paweł Mucha, Founder of a SUP lifestyle blog, SUPer Mucha. “I found the presenter super knowledgeable and approachable and had a great support from the group. I didn’t find the language barrier too difficult as the sessions were delivered in a clear and user-friendly way. Safety and environmental aspects I found at the course are the ones I truly relate to and it’s what motivates me in the sport of SUP.”

Paweł Mucha / SUPer Mucha

“The New Normal, the way we work and learn will be hybrid,” said Ania Nadolna, ISA certified SUP Instructor and Founder of SUPer Whale who has volunteered to support the Polish group with some interpreting. “I was lucky to complete both ISA courses for Flat Water and Open Water at Andy’s academy in Bournemouth but the way forward is digital-first with a hybrid approach. It’s great to see that these courses can be delivered virtually and for me it was a seamless experience. It was also awesome to connect with and support passionate Polish paddlers and pretty much trailblazers of the ISA SUP qualification in Poland.”

“These are unprecedented times, so we are exploring creative and innovative solutions to keep our community active and engaged,” said the ISA President Fernando Aguerre in the April 2020 announcement. Echoing his words and building on the experience of the Polish group, digital capabilities adapted for a training context not only strengthen the sense of a global SUP community but have the potential to further democratise the sport of stand-up paddleboarding.

To find out more about the upcoming ISA Courses, please contact Andy Joyce at andy@surfsteps.co.uk or visit www.andyjoyce.info