It’s July 1st.
Your son or daughter loves rowing.
When they came home after their first “crew” practice, they were excited. You were so proud. You remembered that “crew” was the sport that the Winklevoss twins did in the Social Network.
Ivy education here we come.
Four year later, your athlete has their first phone call with a collegiate coach because they want to row in college. As your athlete takes the phone call upstairs, you and your spouse try to focus on something else as you wait in anticipation.
20 minutes later your athlete comes downstairs with either their head down or crying.
“The coach says I need to drop my 2k score…”
There is no app. There are no Cliff Notes. There is no tutor. It is not something you can buy at the store or have dropped by a drone via Amazon. You can’t negotiate with the coach, the Athletic Director, or even the rowing machine itself. You have flashbacks to your glory days of “three-a-day” football practices, early AM swim practices, running “suicides”, baseball or softball double-headers, soccer tournaments, or line drills in hockey. Dreadful moments that you hoped your athlete would not have to go through with rowing. What do you say?
“Um, just do your best…??”
Cue the familiar eye roll, exaggerated sigh, fountain of tears, and even the custom exaggerated statement:
“You don’t get it!”
What the hell is right…
‘TIS THE SEASON
If you have been a rowing (not crew) parent for a few years now, you have already been through this script. When your athlete comes home frustrated and upset from rowing practice you know that 2k season has begun.
2k season causes chaos in the household.
You make a wonderful dinner, and it is ruined because your athlete won’t eat (needs to make weight/or just can’t eat). You spend the entire evening getting stressed about it because your athlete won’t stop talking or moping about it. And they have to talk about everyone else on the team as well.
This 2k test determines where your athlete ranks on their current team, and will be scrutinized by some collegiate coach or national team coach you have never met or spoken to. Coaches dangle an unreachable “carrot” that your athlete wants to reach, reminding you of the carnival game where you try to land the quarters on the glass plate. It might not even matter what your athlete pulls for their 2k score, because coaches tend to be like “Superdelegates.”
If you truly want to help your athlete, and not cause 2k Anxiety, then realize they already understand the task they have before them. It is your perception of the situation that gets you into trouble because it is based solely on what you know.
If you were never an athlete, it will be difficult for you to relate to their physical and mental stress. If you were an athlete, then you have some experience with pregame “jitters”, but it’s not exactly the same in rowing.
If you were a rower, you will probably give the worst advice…
THINGS YOU DON’T SAY
Below are things you don’t say to your athlete before a 2k test. You mean well, but what works for you may not work for them.
“Why don’t you just pull as hard as you can?
My father said this to me back in 2003, “Why don’t you just pull a 2k everyday, and try to beat your time each time?” Makes sense Dad, why didn’t I think of this? Setting a simple, lofty goal does not work, especially if you aren’t providing a plan to get them there. You also need proof that it would work. The thought of a personal best is overwhelming. Even if your athlete likes to be challenged (see 2k anxiety) you have immediately added more adrenaline to an already tough situation.
Ugh. Telling your athlete not to worry about a 2k test, is telling them their goal is not important. Their goal could be to pull a personal best, and now you are telling them not to worry about it. Now they are hesitant to push forward and achieve it, and your nonchalance is only reinforcing that. For those athletes who have a solid goal in mind you must acknowledge this goal. Otherwise, you are telling them that they don’t have a chance, and they will try to spite you by going out too fast or too hard, just to prove you wrong.
“You can do it! If you believe in yourself and you try your hardest…”
STOP. It is okay to try to connect to your athlete emotionally, but the 2k test is a painful experience. If you believe that your athlete will be able to remember your advice to “believe in themselves” with 1200 meters to go, then don’t be around when they curse your name at that moment. There is nothing inspirational about a 2k test. The harder your athlete pulls the more it hurts, the slower your athlete pulls, the more it hurts.
“Just do it…”
Easier said than done. If you truly want to be inspiring, then you should actually get on a rowing machine and pull a 2k test. Just make sure you don’t eat anything beforehand. You believe you are being tough for your athlete, but they don’t need you to be tough for them. If you don’t acknowledge their emotional roller coaster, then they won’t acknowledge yours the next time you give them a hard time about them missing curfew or not their doing homework. Sport clichés worked in the 1980’s and 1990’s…that was over 20 years ago…
Asking your athlete a list of questions is going to create two outcomes. Either you will overwhelm or overstimulate them. In your quest for information, your athlete will become a deer in headlights, and will question their preparation and even their plan of attack. If you feed their adrenaline by checking in with more questions they will be inconsistent and unpredictable in their training for the 2k test. Remember who is causing all this turmoil with a million questions – you. This isn’t about you.
“Why don’t you just do a 2k tomorrow?”
“A time to laugh… and a time to weep. A time to mourn… and there is a time to dance.” Thank you Kevin Bacon. There is a time dance, and there is a time to do a 2k test. That is what a training plan is for. If your athlete is following a training plan, then it is important not to encourage them to stray from it. Training programs are designed to help athletes peak at the right time. Therefore, if they take a random 2k test, then they are more likely to fail. You wouldn’t appreciate your athlete asking you everyday when you were going to do your taxes or start drafting your will.
See “Just Do It” above. Avoid telling your athlete how they should do anything. Unless you happened to be an elite rowing coach or Olympian, you are going to lose your credibility immediately. “Should” is a powerful word, and should be used in situations of expertise. If you know little about rowing your athlete will not listen to you. They will either ignore you or do the opposite. Literally, a better way would be to say “Do you think you should…?” It allows the athlete to feel they have control, and you are not just telling them what to do.
“Don’t forget that you have to…”
Don’t distract your athlete from their mission. Right now the number #1 mission is to drop their 2k score. If you remind them of other things that they need to be doing (schoolwork, chores, standardized tests, etc) then you are taking their athlete “hat” away and forcing them to put on their student “hat” or son or daughter “hat”.
Moral of the story
It’s July 1st.
“How the hell do I help my kid drop their 2K score?:
I don’t know…
Just kidding. I do know.
“The coach says I need to drop my 2k score…”
“What do you hope to accomplish?”
“I am hoping to pull a person best.”
“I believe that is a good goal. You certainly have trained hard enough for it, and you should feel confident in yourself.”
Providing positive reinforcement without telling them what they should do, and how they should do it will open the door for them to have a discussion, and maybe ask for some more advice.
And you’ll have something to give them.
First, have the right training program designed to have the correct balance of training components – aerobic, anaerobic, mobility, stability, strength, and power – which are all important to the sport of rowing. The Functional Movement Screen is the first step in revealing which of these components your athlete is missing, and establishing a baseline.
Second, understand what kind of athlete your son or daughter is. You need to know their strengths, and what truly motivates them. The AthleteDISC profile is an excellent tool and resource for your athlete to improve their mindset in training, racing, and performing well on a 2k test.
It’s July 1st.
You can start today. It doesn’t matter if your athlete is from the United States or is an international athlete. It is worth it. Technology is amazing. It allows us all to connect quickly and safely with the click of a button.
Your athlete will go through an initial Functional Movement Screen and Assessment and will take the AthleteDISC profile to establish their mindset.
Remember there is nothing wrong with wanting to help your athlete be successful. We brought our children into society to make it a better place, and are responsible in guiding them through life. We certainly did our best in trying to change the world, but our children are much stronger and smarter than we are. We can only watch in amazement at all they accomplish. Every once in awhile, we manage to say the right things, so remember…
If they somehow walk away satisfied with your advice…
These are the hilarious jokes you think of at 2 am when you have two daughters…
For more information on Athletic Profiling, Individual Team and FMS Screening, Strength and Conditioning, Training Programs, Seminars, and Rowing Analysis – contact me!