A Wanderers Update

It’s been some time since I have made a real blog post. To provide a bit of a snap shot here’s a table below to show what my travel has been like. The role of Head Coach is something, which I love. The travel is a lot but I feel it’s important to be out in the various states with coaches and athletes.

Head Coach Travel Information
Days Away
Nights Away

Adding Value
There are times when I question the value of what I am doing though. I get to see the different program, the range of standards being achieved, and the learning being pursued. I do question my impact at times as I drop in to a location spend the time I have with the key coaches and athletes then leave.

It’s strange to have ideas but not really get to put many of them into action. This I reflect on as having come from being the athlete where each day involved energy and ideas into action. The feedback was always happening. The boat speed was the focus and when it went well the rewards were enjoyed. The funny thing is that since Dec 2012 I have travel, observed, asked questions, made comments, and thought a great deal about the sport in our Country. I wonder how we can improve and what needs to change, but still feel less effective than I would like.

This is a let go I sense as it’s not about me personally rowing a boat any more. I can’t just jump in and make something happen. I want to desperately though at times to help more than I feel I am. This has been the transition and one which if I am honest I find difficult at times. The travel is fine, time away from home I can handle but feeling less than effective or feeling like some much more can be done is hard. Saying all this might sound like things should change. Not some much as change as I am a believer in pushing for constant gains, improvements and ways to go faster.

Driven By Dissatisfaction
Being in a perpetual state of unrest brings a level of urgency to a situation. Constantly pushing and exploring means that I guess I have operated from a place of dissatisfaction. Problem now is there is often not much I can do about the changes or improvement. This makes is a challenge of shifting my mind set from competitor to supporter or guide or director or even more important a leader in a process with other leaders.

How can I help but miss being in the boat After so many years it’s new to be watching more and doing less. The actions of a head coach are different from the actions of an athlete which I am sure is obvious to say. I love what I am doing but its still feel less than normal. Rowing a boat became quite simply a joy but not with out much pain. As a head coach its about influencing, challenging at times developing the relationships to help our coaches and athlete become the best they can and the best in the World. Even as I write that I realize its probably not that different in principle but its certainly looks and feels different.

Learning From The Speed Boat
Its great to see many of our athletes and coaches getting on with preparing at the right levels. I notice our best people have clear intent and understanding about what they are doing and the meaning of the training seems more tangible. Boat speed can’t be cheated. Sure you can do shorter efforts to appear like things are better than they are, but really when it comes down to doing anything like 2k or more the boat speed becomes the best indicator of progress. Good speeds at rates like 20 / 28 / 34 are a good indicator of what I think of as a crew signature.  The trend line between low rates and high once realized becomes a great way to challenge for improvement and change. How boat speed is achieve is really interesting as the bow and stern tells a great story I think.  Interesting thing I have watched and reflected on greatly over the last few months is how athletes and boats move together or in an opposed fashion. Boats that flow look like the harmony is obvious and boat, which struggle for speed, appear to be in battle and yet these battle are subtle. That’s the art form of rowing to be able to find the flow of the movement and rhythm of the boat.

Mastery Is A Mindset
For many years I have felt a pull towards mastery rather than just a result or outcome. Recently as I said above sitting in speed boats watching and discussion our team of chargers I find I reflect a lot on the shift in mind set.  I see the same thing with many of our young athletes. The want and desire to just get into the team or to get the next result is noticeable. Funny thing is I actually look back on the early days and think how the heck did I make it through. Deep down I always wanted a greater connection and loved to explore. This happened in many areas. Exploring thought process, movement patterns, biases, relationships, failure and obvious exploring success. I really stuffed up more than I care to remember. Many mistake were made and the surprise is that I kept at it when many others gave up, left, changed their plans. I stayed the course, and in one sense it was just the course, which probably was unclear to others yet, I knew I was seeking a better way, greater understanding and learning. Mastery then is key I think as its takes the performance from simply doing and achieving or not to becoming more aware, intending, taking action, making mistakes and making it count, and reviews. Mastery dare I say it is a journey and never the destination. It’s the joy in striving for perfection, the working towards the best, to be the best and yet the result is not just best but a newer version or a reshaping of things. Strange how I can see all that striving was the best part and when I watch other not full enjoying the striving I find myself wondering how I can assist in the unearthing of the mind shift from result to mastery seeking. Sure I get the need to get the results and after having a few results fall my way its easier to state these words. What I realise is that some time ago just learning become the many motive.

Back To Basics
Finally here after some time of not writing in this blog and think something, which is critical to share, is how important it is to get back to basics. I watched only this week as two different crews trained in a more remote location. The rawness of the Huon River is something to experience. Watching the stretch of water and how these boats slide past km after km with such ease and yet with clearly a high level of demand. Its basic and raw, it in many ways brings athletes into a space of clear focus to manage their effort, their striving, and their capacity to concentrate and learning to deliver on a coach’s demand.

Well that’s my update and although its only really a slither of a snap shot it something that I hope make sense of the travel and the fun I am having as a Head Coach.


Unknown said…
I am struck by how much learning to row well is like learning to play a string instrument. just read this after having read an interview with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, "Yo-Yo Ma on Intonation, Practice, and the Role of Music in Our Lives," Strings, SEPTEMBER 17, 2015. The similarities in approach are noteworthy--the same inner drive for mastery rather than merely performance.

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