HOW THE #$@&%*! DO I HELP MY KID DROP THEIR 2K SCORE?!?

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.

“What happened?”

“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

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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.”

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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

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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.

Don’t say:

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.

Don’t say:

“Hakuna Matata…”

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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.

Don’t say:

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.

Don’t say:

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

Don’t Say:

“Who..What..Where..Why…When…How…?”

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.

Don’t Say:

“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.

Don’t Say:

“You should…”

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 Say:

“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.

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“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…”

DO Say:

“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.

Click below to set up your your initial Mindset and Mobility Session. Your athlete will go through an initial Functional Movement Screen and Assessment and will take the AthleteDISC profile to establish their mindset. Once you register on Regatta Central, allow 24 hours for processing and instructions.

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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 2am when you have two daughters…

For more information on Strength and Conditioning for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells, AthleteDISC, and the Process Communication Model® follow my blog or follow me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.

 

 

 

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“LOST” – THE C.R.A.S.H.-B. CONUNDRUM

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“THE C.R.A.S.H.-B. CONUNDRUM”

It happens every year.

Thousands of athletes travel to Boston, MA to rowing’s equivalent of the Super Bowl. Or maybe the Philadelphia “Wing Bowl”, because it truly is a spectacle.

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Photo Credit: greglesher.blogspot.com

Four of my athletes competed last week at the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S, and only one came out successful. I finally realized that this event has always mystified me. In the seven years that I actually competed at the event, I only really did well twice. In my first year, I didn’t know any better, and pulled a personal best time as a lightweight. In 2005, my final year, I just stuck to my race plan, and somehow “won” my heat in exciting fashion.

That’s it.

What is it about the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S?!?

I want to preface this blog by saying I absolutely love  the C.R.A.S.H.-B’s. It is a  great race and event.

However, when writers cover the event, their articles are about the athletes with inspirational stories, the rowing “celebrities” that happen to attend, and the world records that are broken. Meanwhile nothing is ever written about the thousands of other athletes that go there only to have their souls crushed by failure.

C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is a conundrum. It is the Bermuda Triangle of indoor rowing competitions. You never know how it is going to play out.

LOST

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“And it started out with such promise…”

When you first arrive, you literally forget how you arrived and why you are there.

Like the passengers of Oceanic 6 in the television series LOST  we  convince ourselves that we were brought to the Agganis Arena for a reason. In the end, we realize that even the writers had no idea how the story was going to end.

I have written about “2k Anxiety“, and the fact is that C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is too overwhelming.  Too stimulating. Too confusing.

High school athletes and parents always ask me for advice on whether it is worth going up to Boston. I look at them and simply say, “You should only go if you know you are going to pull a personal best, or you are going to win.”

Otherwise, just plan on being disappointed.

Even if you could go to Boston with the right mindset, there might be too many distractions there to overwhelm you.

“THE OTHERS”

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“Who ARE these people?”

Maybe it is just because the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is in a hockey arena.  The atmosphere is much different than a rowing venue. When you are sitting in the stands, it becomes very easy to be engrossed by everything.

Too many tastes, smells, sounds, and other peopleYou can spend your whole afternoon just people watching. The air is thick with drama, and very soon it is time for your event. Even if you are able to tune out everything, you still have to interact with other people.

“Hey bro, are you done using that erg. I need to warm up…”

Not enough ergs. And constantly bumping into other people as you wait in line at the restroom or concession stands. And all the other people want to talk to you…

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“Pay no attention to that carnage behind the curtain…”

“What a feeling,” as you wait in line in agony for your event behind a heavy curtain. Much like the final audition in “Flashdance”.

“The Dharma Initiative”

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“I’ll see you in another life, brother!”

Even if you arrive with a good plan, the plan may unravel. You can map out your whole routine right up until your event, however a single misstep will throw you off. C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S contains too many uncontrollable variables.

It is impossible to predict every scenario, and athletes that are creatures of habit will find themselves uncomfortable. Boston traffic, parking issues, and event delays are all out of the athletes’ control. Therefore the “organized” athlete will be out of their element.

“Your heat has been delayed for another 20 minutes…”

Desmond had to push the button every 108 minutes. Then he was distracted, and then plane came crashing down.

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Photo Credit: Row2k

Are you ready to adapt your plan? Are you able to anticipate the things you do not know know about yet?

Like no toilet paper? (That’s only a joke… 🙂 )

“THE MAN IN BLACK VS. JACOB”

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“I wanted them to know…the difference between right and wrong without me telling them. It’s all useless if I have to make them do anything.”

At the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S, athletes are taken out of their element. They are in a unfamiliar place watching athletes and coaches do things differently. Athletes from other programs and countries will prepare for the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S in a different way.

Observing these “bizarre” methods will challenge your core beliefs. Especially when the athlete next to you pulls a personal best time with a rowing style or warm-up method you are not familiar with.

“Why is he pulling the handle over his head?”

Whether you frown upon their rowing technique or wish your own rowing technique was better, you end up questioning yourself, your coach, and why you are even there…

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“I thought headphones weren’t allowed…”

The focus on your original mission has ended; you begin focusing everything that is wrong in the world.

Thank goodness the GOP Debate was a week later…

“THE SMOKE MONSTER”

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“Okay, that thing in the woods, maybe it’s a monster, maybe it’s a p***ed off giraffe, I don’t know. “

You would think that those that thrive on competition, would always do their best at the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S. In many cases they are the only ones that pull a personal best time.

With so much competition around, you begin picking out your targets. It is impossible to hold back your adrenaline because the arena oozes adrenaline.

“I am going to beat my time… I am definitely going to beat that CrossFit dude with no shirt on…”

“Oh WAIT, there’s GRAHAM BENTON!”

BOOM! You go out too fast.

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Photo Credit: Row2k and US Rowing

I would love the opportunity to pick the brain of Graham Benton or even the inspiring 95 year-old, Steve Richardson, who broke the World Record. How do they handle that pressure? Perhaps Mr. Richardson was just there to beat his previous time, and to beat all the other 95 year-olds.

And maybe he was just really p***ed that there wasn’t anyone else to race in his age group.

“MORAL OF THE STORY”

I don’t know…

In the 35 years of existence,  the  C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S has produced some amazing performances. Perhaps that is what makes the event the true World Indoor Rowing Championships, because athletes must rise above all the psychological hurdles – the overwhelming masses, the tempting distractions, the conflicting philosophies, and the unbelievable competition.

The tradition will continue to go on, even with the new threat of virtual regattas like the 2016 World Rowing Indoor Sprints and ROW’D Royalty.

Athletes will continue to compete at this rowing mecca to find their “heart” on this island…

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“What the hell was this?!?”

Or maybe  C.R.A.S.H.-B’S is just a purgatory where we all go to meet before we die…

 

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Oh shut up Jacob…

 

 

For more information on Strength and Conditioning for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells, AthleteDISC, and the Process Communication Model® follow my blog or like me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.

 

Stay Positive to Beat the Injury Blues – by Strength Coach Will

I am pleased this week to post a guest article from Will Ruth, also known as “Strength Coach Will.” Coach Ruth writes this week about keeping a positive “mindset”  when recovering from an injury. Enjoy!

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Photo Credit: Tohn Keagle

Stay Positive to Beat the Injury Blues

by “Strength Coach Will” Ruth

Injury risk is an inevitable part of life and competitive sport. The first step to developing a positive mindset is accepting this risk and destigmatizing injury should it occur. Getting injured is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but it is a risk that we all take as athletes and active people. In this article, I’ll explain how you can do everything you can to prevent injury and how to keep your cool should injury occur.

I do want to include a disclaimer here to say that sports are often a huge part of people’s lives, personal identity, and self-esteem, as well as a method for coping with stress, and it can be very difficult when an injury takes this away. If you or one of your athletes or teammates is struggling with depression-like symptoms, please refer to a mental health counselor or sport psychology counselor. The Applied Association of Sport Psychology is a great resource and maintains a list of certified consultants.

Control the “Controllables,” Discard What Remains

Maintaining physical readiness to train is at the forefront of every responsible athlete and coach’s mind. Even though we all accept a risk of injury training and competing in sport, injury prevention is a critical part of maintaining this readiness. Here are the core tenets of injury risk reduction that are 100% under your control:

1. Understand your sport, its injury risks, and safe training practices.

2. Learn how to prevent those injuries and then take action to do so.

3. Learn how to lift correctly to avoid compromising positions, then strength train to prevent imbalance injuries and teach correct motor patterns.

4. Stick to a regimen of warming up, cooling down, and stretching and mobility work to make sure your body is prepared for training and competition.

5. Hydrate and eat well to give your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to sustain hard training and achieve excellent performance.

6. Know your body and be honest with yourself. Know when to push and when to hold back in training to avoid sickness, injury, and over training.

While freak accidents do occur, the vast majority of sports injuries can be traced back to failure to adhere to those six tenets. Think of when you’ve been injured—were you consistently practicing all six at the time?

The next thing that can really derail an injured athlete’s mindset is the ensuing shock and surprise, often followed by disappointment and sometimes depression. This is where it really becomes critical to maintain a mindset of acceptance, positivity, and improvement to focus on the activities that you are able to do while recovering from injury.

Physical discomfort and inconvenience will always remain a part of injury, and what a positive approach seeks to eliminate is mental discomfort and frustration. The mental mindset to adopt is that your sport is now recovering from injury and getting back to rowing. Successful athletes who overcome injury apply the same determination, self-motivation, and drive to their rehab protocol as they did to sport training.

Remember, you’re only focusing on things you can control and positive action that you can take. Don’t get bogged down in the “can’t do’s,” such as, “I can’t row,” “I can’t lift,” “I can’t run.” Think about what you CAN do and apply yourself fully to that. Find ways to train around your injury. Can you use the stationary bike, run, or focus on one half (upper/lower) of your body with weights? Can you use this extra time to improve mobility and flexibility on a non-injured area? PT’s or athletic trainers will be able to provide specifics on what you can do to be as productive as possible during recovery.

You’re Still Part of the Team

An injured athlete is still an athlete and a teammate, so every effort should be made to keep them engaged with the sport and team. So long as it will not negatively impact their recovery, injured rowers can still attend practice and ride the launch, be there for their teammates during erg sessions, and stay involved in the team at social occasions. Often, athletes who are allowed to isolate themselves just fade away and find it hard to return to the team even when healthy. This is also where peers and team captains are relied upon to keep their teammates feeling engaged. A text or phone call of, “hey, we really miss you at practice, will we see you at _____?” can be very meaningful for an injured teammate struggling with motivation to return. Think about how you would you want your teammates to respond if you were the one injured.

Injured athletes are often worried about being in the way at practice. Here’s a list of some things rowers can help with while they’re recovering from an injury:

  • Checking gas and loading the launch
  • Holding a camera from the launch for filming
  • Holding the spotlight if it’s dark
  • Help out by writing down times during erg sessions
  • Is your team short on coxswains? I had snapping hip syndrome and could not row. I showed up for practice anyway. I was heavy for a coxswain, but when one of the coxswains didn’t show up to practice, I was able to jump in and allow that boat to get out on the water.
  • Collecting shoes, oars, and water bottles
  • Benefit from the instruction at practice. Look at your teammates and try to see what the coach sees and it will make you a better rower when you get back in the boat.
Have a Plan to Get Back on Board

One of the hardest things for eager athletes to avoid is rushing back from injury. After days or weeks away from practice, it’s hard to not want to scratch that itch right away. However, there needs to be a plan to return to training in progressive increments. Check out this graphic for an illustration of why this is—in the study, athletes who returned to do 100% of their normal training workload after only doing 40% of that workload during rehab had a 28% chance of re-injuring during their first week back from practice.

info Source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CB708wHXIAAmqrB.jpg

While an athlete with a week long sickness or slight muscular strain may be able to return relatively quickly, a fracture, broken bone, torn muscle, or serious illness will need a more gradual progression. A general rule of thumb is to start with 50% of your pre-injury volume and add 5-10% (meters or minutes) from there. For example, if you were doing five two-hour practices per week before your injury, start with five one-hour practices for the first week back. This requires the coach to not only monitor training minutes, but to have a plan to swap in another rower for your place. If an erg session was prescribed 3×18’, start with 3×9’ the first week back. Your goal is to leave each session feeling like you could have done more. This may be frustrating to some athletes, but it’s a much better path than re-injury.

One final step that can be difficult for many athletes is mentally moving on from the injury after returning to rowing. A key tip here is to focus on what you DO want to have happen, not all the possible negative outcomes. With great dedication to the rehab protocol, a gradual progression to return to practice, and a positive mindset upon return, athletes can go on to put the injury behind them and focus on performance.

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Infographic Credit: Strength Coach Will Ruth

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Photo Credit: Tohn Keagle – “Strength Coach” Will Ruth

Will Ruth (BS, NSCA-CSCS, USA-Weightlifting L1, US-Rowing L2) is the strength coach for the Western Washington University men’s club crew team and is the author of “Rowing Stronger: Strength Training to Maximize Rowing Performance,” the only comprehensive strength training manual just for rowers published by Rowperfect UK. Will posts new articles every Monday on his website, www.strengthcoachwill.com, where you can find more resources for physical and mental training for youth, collegiate, and masters rowers. A former rower, Will keeps his own competitive fire going with the sport of Strongman and also coaches high school lacrosse.

 

Thank you Coach Ruth! For more info on AthleteDISC, and the Process Communication Model® follow my blog or like me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.