Interview with Sébastien Cans

Exclusive interview with the Head of the French FFSNW teams

For you, the Spotyride team met (virtually of course!) the current Head of the French Water Ski and Wakeboard teams, Mr Sébastien Cans.

Here’s an exclusive interview: Mission, Training, High Level and Championships are at the heart of this exchange.

Before becoming a Manager … A champion!

Hello Sébastien Cans, could you first introduce yourself in a few words?

Hello, I’m Sébastien Cans, 47 years old. I discovered water-skiing by chance, and then followed a classic path: club detection, league, national youth competitions. I then decided to move to the USA, imagining a career change as a trainer. In parallel with my 15 years with the French Open team (combined between 1994 and 2005), I took my first BEES1 diploma following an injury & a rethink. I really enjoyed the mental and physical preparation, and continued with the second degree during my competitive years, ending up as a sports teacher.

Today, I’ve been seconded from the Ministry of Sport to the FFSNW since 2004*, where I joined the 7-strong National Technical Department.

Basically oriented towards water skiing, I then did a bit of Wakeboarding as a hobby and my little brother Benjamin was a Wake Skate competitor. I’ve always been keen to check out what’s going on in Wakeboarding.

* Sébastien Cans ended his career in 2005 with a number of titles under his belt …

Sébastien Cans-Spotyride-2

National Technical Manager

What does your job as National Technical Advisor entail?

As I don’t work in a structure on a daily basis, my job is more akin to management, logistics and budget management than technique or training.

Since last year (last quarter), I’ve been in charge of all the high-level disciplines (water skiing, wakeboarding and cable wakeboarding). I’m responsible for managing groups with technicians, doctors and physiotherapists for international championships.

There are several national technical advisers. How do you divide up the work, and what are your individual missions?

There is a National Technical Department headed by Grégory SAINT-GENIES with 6 executives with different missions:

  • Development (club structures, subsidies & certification) for Marie-Christine OKEL
  • Training (federal and state diplomas) for Styve PERON
  • Development of the Federal Cable under construction in Paris (Choisy) for Franck CHOCUN
  • Christophe DUVERGER in charge of detection and trainer networks
  • Socio-professional support (athlete support, extracurricular activities & obligations related to their status) for Marianne OUDAR
  • Coordination of high-level disciplines for Sébastien CANS

French team training & courses

How do you go about training young people for the top level?

The first step is to identify young people. The results of previous years are used to determine who is likely to be eligible for the European Championships through to the World Open Championships. The level of the youngsters is quite impressive. They enter tricks of a fairly high level (in wakeboarding as in water-skiing).

There is no magic formula and, above all, there is a different approach for each sport:

  • Water-skiing is a standardized discipline: points for tricks, buoys for slalom, meters for jumps. Even if the configuration of the site has a slight influence, it’s minimal and the results are comparable. These are performance figures that can be tracked.
  • For Wake, it’s difficult to compare performance figures from one event to another. Even so, the world ranking (as in tennis) is based on a points system. Depending on the competitions they enter, athletes score points. The more the competition counts, the greater their chances of winning points. We need to take a step back from this system, as it’s not very egalitarian for young people (if parents can’t take them to structures far away with lots of points, and often, this can be detrimental to their ranking).

The next step is to define a project with the whole team. A sports policy based in part on the budget. The youngsters then train locally and take part in the French team’s training courses and “Performance Workshops” organized by the FFSNW. Each course or workshop has a specific objective: injury awareness, active recovery, technique, working on the rules with judges, rules of life and working with the Equipe de France.

How do you choose the venues for French team training camps and competitions?

Some sites perform better than others, depending on their configuration, typology and surf. We try to look at age and level categories to influence the choice. Each club has its own area of expertise. When it’s more high-level, certain facilities are required, such as slaloms for skiing, a ski jump or specific modules. For very high-level boats, this is a problem, given the cost.

For national courses, these are affiliated structures. In cable, we’re going to have to offer this kind of service if the structures are willing. They may have personal, commercial or other motivations. The most important thing is the message. For this fast-growing, dynamic discipline, there’s only High Level. We need to fight against a certain kind of individualism. It’s the strength of the whole community that will get things moving in the right direction.

There is also a certain expectation of quality on the part of sportsmen and women, which leads to choices being made. That’s my role. I’m the listener. I want to be a source of ideas within a framework and with support that takes into account the life project, so that I can approach competition results with greater serenity.


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