Moving from U8 to U9

Please note: 2018/19 season u8s moving to the u9s for the 2019/20 season cannot take part in our main board training program until their preliminary and competition proficiency is complete. These can be done at registration time.

Information for parents

Nippers introduces children aged 5 to 13 to surf lifesaving.  The move from the u8 to u9 in nippers is a significant change, mainly because kids:
  • Have additional proficiency requirements - click here to view>>
  • Can start taking part in the surf swim and board 
Each nipper will react differently to this change - some will embrace it, others will be hesitant and need encouragement, and others will be very daunted by the idea. Most important to remember is, nippers is about surf life saving, fitness and fun - not just ocean swims and board races. Children may take time to gain the skills and confidence to take on these activities. Keep encouraging them.

U9 activities

U9 nippers take part in the following activities:
  • Surf and lifesaving education
  • Beach sprint and beach relay
  • Flags
  • Wade
  • Surf swim and surf team
  • Board and board relay

Getting ready for the u9s

Introductory board program
At the end of each season, Wanda nippers offers our registered u8 nippers an “Introduction to Board” program, where nippers are shown the basic skills and techniques for paddling nipper boards and surf swim.  A high number of water safety are needed to help with this program – so all parents with their Bronze must assist. Nippers can start training with the main board training group only once they have gained the proficiency at rego time.
The importance of swim training
Regular swimming is absolutely essential for nippers. Your child should be in regular learn to swim or squad programs throughout winter so they are prepared for u9 nippers.  Children who swim on a regular basis are much more likely to enjoy nippers than those who don’t. 
U9 and U10 nippers paddle a foam nipper board (“foamies”). Learning to paddle boards is not easy at the beginning. It is like learning to ride a bike!  Most children have a few crashes here and there, but will eventually succeed with practice.  It is exactly the same with paddling a board - keep practicing and it will happen.
Do I need to buy a board?  Many families choose to buy a nipper board. There are many brands to choose from – ask fellow club members or coaches for advice.  Wanda also has boards it can loan nippers for Sunday nippers, training and carnivals.

U9 proficiency requirements

Surf Life Saving Australia set out minimum proficiency requirements for all nippers. At Wanda, our proficiency requirements are a little higher, given the surf conditions at our beach. When your U9 nipper registers at the start of the season they will be asked to complete two proficiency tests:
1. Preliminary proficiency
  • Complete a 200m pool swim (freestyle) in under 6mins
  • Complete a 1.5 min float
2. Competition proficiency
  • Complete a minimum 150m ocean swim (untimed)
What happens if your child does or doesn’t complete proficiency?
Kids will achieve different levels of proficiency. Here are the scenarios, based on what your child can do:
1. Your child completed both the preliminary and competition proficiency
They can take part in
  • All Sunday nipper activities
  • All Championship days
  • Carnivals
  • All beach and water-based training offered by Wanda Nippers.
2. Your child did not meet the preliminary proficiency (pool swim and float)
Make sure your child is taking part in regular swimming squads. There will be other opportunities early in the season to try again. In the meantime, kids can take part in surf education and beach-based activities, but no water activities.
3. Your child met the preliminary proficiency (pool swim and float), but not the competition proficiency (ocean swim)
Firstly, don’t worry and don’t push the issue – it’s very common for an 8 year old to not want to take on an ocean swim! Keep your child involved in swimming lessons/squad. There will be opportunities throughout the season to try again. In the meantime, they can take part in:
  • The Water Confidence Program at Sunday nippers – designed to build confidence in the swim and board
  • Many Sunday nipper activities, including surf education, beach and wade
  • All beach-based training 
If they achieve their competition proficiency during the season, they can then join in Champo days carnivals; training; and Sunday nippers board/swim. 

Parent help in the u9s

U9s is an important year for parents to become more involved in nippers. Here are some of the ways how:
Water safety 
The ‘orange vest’ crew at nippers – ensure nippers are safe in the water. A strict ratio of water safety to nippers must be provided at all times. U9s need extra support and encouragement.The more water safety we have the better experience we can provide to nippers. Water safety is a job everyone can do – it’s definitely not just for “swimmers and/or the athletic types”. You’ll need to complete your bronze medallion to do water safety – courses are advertised via email. 
Officials are responsible for the conduct of surf sport events. Officiating roles include referees, starters, judges, recorders and marshals across all of the surf sports disciplines (flags, sprints, surf race, board etc). Parent officials at Wanda help run our Championship days, as well as officiate at carnivals your kids are participating in. You’ll need to complete a short training course – courses are advertised via email.
For more information on what’s involved and other volunteer roles, go to Volunteers

Other things about the u9s 

U8s have been introduced to surf sports carnivals and this continues into the u9s. Carnivals are always optional for nippers, where families decide which carnivals their nipper will attend. Details for up coming carnivals and how to enter are outlined on our Carnivals page (click here).  U9s can take part in:
  • Various club based carnivals
  • Bate Bay 4-Way
  • Sydney Branch Champs (Feb)
  • SLSNSW State Champs (late Feb/early March)
All U9s can take part in Wanda Nippers beach based training programs (fitness sessions, sprints, flags etc), check the latest Wanda Nipper News email for latest details on training.
When your child completes both the preliminary and competition proficiency, they can take part in Wanda Nippers board training program, usually offered 2-3 times per week. U9s are new to the board - attending board training will greatly benefit their skills and confidence. Like any sport, training is essential for improvement. At board training, nippers are usually broken into groups to cater for different abilities.
Finally…there are many changes in the U9s. But remember, nippers is about creating life savers of the future, not just ocean swims and board races. Give your child time to adapt and most of all, have fun. Look forward to seeing you at Wanda Nippers.

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