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Coaching Tactics

May 24, 2010

I really enjoy teaching paddlers and watching them improve individually.  In turn, they feel better about themselves and contribute to the success of the team.   A coach’s duties don’t stop by teaching a paddler how to move a boat.  A coach is also responsible for motivating the team for peak performance – this sometimes is harder than teaching raw technique as you have to account for each person’s personality.

Each paddler reacts differently to the things a coach says.  One paddler’s motivation is another’s reason to give up.  Case and point was this last weekend’s time trial.  Some have a desire to know every little thing they can do to improve technically, others don’t want to hear it.

Last weekend, I was tasked with steering the oc2 for a majority of the time trials we held.  Unfortunately, I can’t sit on the oc2 and eat bon-bons while steering the oc2 to the finish line.  Marshalling to the start line, I try to put the paddlers at ease and give the paddlers last second tips in hopes of bettering their time.  During the paddler’s piece, I need to figure out how to motivate the paddler and keep him/her going at peak levels.

What I say and do differs depending on the paddler.   Here are a few stories that stuck out in my mind from last weekend:

Paddler A begins his/her piece.  Unfortunately, the oc2’s seat begins to slide forward and back on its track.  Shortly after the start of the piece, Paddler A (who is very competitive) realizes that the seat is sliding and begins to verbally tell me about the problem.   Realizing what fuels Paddler A, I tell Paddler A that s/he can stop at any time and start over.  The choice was his/hers.   What did Paddler A do?  Paddler A ignored the inconvenience and put the throttle down powering down the course.

Later in the day, it was Paddler B’s turn.  Half way through the piece, Paddler B started telling me that s/he could no longer continue.  It was too hard.  Had I used the tactic I used with Paddler A, Paddler B would have stopped and I would have had to paddle Paddler B to the finish line.  Instead, I encouraged Paddler B telling him/her that Paddler B was not going to stop under any circumstances.  I told Paddler B I had the utmost confidence that Paddler B could finish the piece.  Guess what happened?  Paddler B finished the piece with a very respectable time.

Sometimes, it’s not about motivating or teaching, but enjoying the journey.  Here’s what happened later in the day:

Paddler C starts his/her piece and immediately notices the seat is sliding.  Paddler C is not ultra competitive but is very fit and serious nonetheless.  The seat begins sliding and the boat starts making a squeaking sound – almost like a farting sound.   To be frank, I didn’t notice it as I was focused on steering the boat straight down the course.   Rather than ignore the sound, Paddler C tells me with a chuckle (keep in mind this is during Paddler C’s piece), “That’s not me!” clearly referring to the fart-like sound.  I guess Paddler C thought that I thought s/he was repeatedly farting.   Being a sucker for fart jokes, all I could do was laugh.

The master steersman, coach and motivator Leon encouraging me down the course.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 26, 2010 3:36 pm

    You guys are doing an extra-ordinary job and I am pround to be a member of LARD.

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