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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“MIND GAMES: THEY’RE GETTING OLD”

 

It is more apparent that coaching styles and behaviors in the United States need an overhaul. This may not be necessary for the most successful and experienced coaches that have been around for a long time. It is necessary for the new coaches that are trying to make a name for themselves, and that are teaching the next generation of athletes.

The mindsets of younger athletes are different.

We can even add that the criticism of early “specialization” of younger athletes in any particular sport should also be leveled at the type of mindset  they are being bred to have.

Last Thursday night, the University of Oregon Ducks beat the Duke University Blue Devils during the Men’s NCAA tournament. Much of the media coverage was not about how Oregon was the better team. Instead the focus fell on the post-game altercation between Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Oregon player Dillon Brooks.

Teachable Moments

 Photo Credit: https://sports.vice.com/en_us

Photo Credit: https://sports.vice.com/en_us

Great coaches look for teachable moments. We look for ways to connect our experiences through sport to our daily lives. On Thursday night, Coach Krzyzewski approached Dillon Brooks to deliver a teachable moment, and it probably wasn’t the right time and place.

There was another teachable moment. Duke player, Grayson Allen, was the player that Dillon Brooks scored the now infamous three-pointer over, and Allen refused to shake hands with Brooks at the end of the game.

It really doesn’t matter what side of the situation you happen to fall on. There are lessons to be learned by all sides:

  1. Do not be a “sore loser.”
  2. Do not be a “bad winner,” and run up the score.
  3. Do not coach another coach’s athlete.

“Life Lessons” are Lost

Coach Krzyzewski has already apologized for number #3 because he realized that it was not his place to offer advice to Dillon Brooks at that moment.

I do not blame Coach Krzyzewski for trying to teach Dillon Brooks a valuable lesson. He is a legendary coach, and wants every athlete that he works with to become successful. Unfortunately, he was upset that his team lost, and he wanted to give advice to Brooks about keeping a  level head before Oregon  went on to play Oklahoma.

I would like to offer Coach Krzyzewski and coaches in all sports a piece of advice:

Stop confusing the athletes.

As coaches, we are responsible for the behaviors of the athletes that are on the field, court, river, etc.  It is becoming more and more difficult for athletes to pull real “life lessons” out of their sport because coaches have trained the athletes to focus only on the sport.

In the single moment that Dillon Brooks shot that three-pointer, he was doing his job. He was uncovered, the shot clock was down to “2”, and therefore his job was to shoot the ball. He wasn’t focusing on the score of the game. He was focusing on executing the play.

In the single moment that the game ended, Grayson Allen wasn’t focusing on his respect for Oregon and the game they played. He was focusing on the fact that his season was over, and was trying to re-shift his focus back to being just a student.

I am pretty sure that in the preparation for the game with Oregon, there was not any focus on how to behave if Duke happened to lose. There weren’t any set plays  in which Allen had to practice shaking hands because he was never allowed to be in that “losing” mindset in the first place.

The Sport is the Focus

The sport itself has become the focus.

When younger athletes first play sports on their own, they learn what their strengths are, learn how to be good teammates, and learn to overcome failure. They experience this in the backyard and playground games where the score does does not matter. They have the freedom to fail without being specialized or trained to be in the correct mindset.

As soon as the sport becomes more organized the expectations for the athletes begin to change.  Coaches focus so much on athletes experiencing success that the  pressure at the high school level and collegiate level makes it impossible to extract any takeaways that apply to an athlete’s real life.  It’s a pipe dream that is ready to burst.

What lessons are coaches trying to teach with sports?

I am not sure that coaches even know.

A few weekends ago, one of my athletes won their first race in over a year. She was ecstatic. Apparently, her coach didn’t believe she should enjoy the moment for that long:

“…well, you could have been faster.”

Another athlete received an email from their coach. It indicated that the team needed to look inside themselves:

“…you have to decide how bad you want it.”

At the collegiate level, I was an assistant coach being reprimanded by my head coach after complimenting our team’s first victory:

“…it’s NOT great…they should have won by more.”

Please keep in mind, this is high school and collegiate rowing. I cannot imagine the pressure and stress that goes with playing in the NCAA Tournament. Or even the Super Bowl, as I wrote about Cam Newton a few weeks ago.

Moral of the Story

No More Mind Games

Photo Credit: NCAA and www.sacbee.com

Photo Credit: NCAA and http://www.sacbee.com

Who is the adult here?

I have personally watched coaches destroy  athletes by “bursting their bubble.” It has opened my eyes to how I need to take a step back in parenting my own children.

Protecting your child from disappointment by either training them not to fail or making them feel good about everything is only making them question which behaviors  are “right” or  “wrong.”

They begin to doubt themselves.

It is one thing to ask an athlete to fully immerse themselves into the sport. It is another to ask them to focus on the morals outside of the sport.

Wake up coaches; the “mind games” are getting old.

We attempt to impart the wisdom of our own athletic struggles onto younger athletes, but they have no frame of reference. We cannot get them to understand and appreciate what they are experiencing because we never allow them to. Instead we try try use old clichés and stories.

We are not martyrs.

Allowing athletes to experience both satisfaction and disappointment builds the confidence to face more difficult obstacles during their athletic career. At that point, they will go to you for help, and that is the point you really can coach them. Meanwhile:

“Winning is the most important thing…It doesn’t matter if you win or lose…”

“Do it for your teammates…Be better than your teammates…”

“Miles make champions…Train smarter not harder…”

“Don’t be a sore loser…Don’t be a bad winner…”

Photo Credit: www.hngn.com

Photo Credit: http://www.hngn.com

 

 

 

 

 

Ugh, my head is spinning…

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“CHOOSE YOUR COXSWAIN…”


I wanted to be coxswain.

Unfortunately, I was too tall and heavy. As a rower I gave it my all, but I was still fascinated with my coxswains’ ability to motivate us into performing our best.  This power is one of the reasons I always preferred sitting in the bow, and why I enjoy coaching now.

In horse racing, much of the focus is put on the horse and their abilities. Yet, it is the jockey that gets the horse across the finish line. One miscalculation and the horse may go out too fast or too slow. Very rare do you have a horse like Secretariat or American Pharaoh that wills itself to win the Triple Crown. In NASCAR, all the focus is put on the driver. Much is written about their personality and their ability to maneuver around other vehicles at 200 mph.

Why should rowing be any different?

The coxswain is the driver. They need to manage the different personalities, behaviors, and talents of athletes who may or may not be on the same page. They must constantly be ready to follow and adapt their coach’s instructions. They are the ears, the eyes, and the nose (if they happen to be downwind) of the team.

Yet they get no love…

CHOOSE YOUR COXSWAIN

Just for fun, I want to share the six different types of coxswains you may have on your team. Coxing is not just about knowledge. Practice calls, drills,  and race recordings  are all important, but they can be memorized. A coxswain’s strength is their unique ability to connect and communicate this knowledge to the athletes. Each coxswain below motivates their teammates in different ways.

In December, I wrote about the Process Communication Model® and “which erg screen you would choose”. The coxswains below are the six “pure” personality types. Each of us utilize all of these six personality types, but to a different degree.

Even though I chose genders for each character, the characteristics of each coxswain is gender neutral. They are universal.

Riley Rebel – “Whose boat is this?”

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Artist Credit: EijiSaeki on DevianArt

Riley. When you read her name, you were not sure if it was a guy’s or gal’s name. It doesn’t matter; when she shows up, she is in charge. Riley does not cox the way other coxswains do. That is what makes her awesome. Stroke rates, erg times, and drills are not important, because she thinks outside the box.

Strengths:

Riley does not challenge your thinking process, but she will find more creative ways to get a boat moving as opposed to the way you approach it. She will use more exciting words like “NICEEEE!”, “WAAAY-Nuff”, and “ROCKIN’.” She sings in the boat, raps on cue, and is quick with an inappropriate joke to keep boat laughing. Riley makes rowing fun.

Needs to work on:

Riley needs to get with the program. She may struggle focusing on the daily grind.  You may believe she is not serious because she does not hang out with the team all the time. She has her own crowd to hang with. However, Riley may provide the dynamic and balance you need to win. When working with Riley, keep interactions fun and interesting. Lead with humor if possible and she will stick around and get on the same page.

Otherwise, your best coxswain will prefer to stay the 3rd boat because they are more fun and laid back.

Theodore Thinker “We are at 32 spm, and in exactly 5 strokes, we’ll shift to 34 spm.”

Artist Credit: Naths 2008

Theodore or “Ted” to his close friends is super organized and well prepared. He carries everything to practice in his backpack –tool kit, athletic tape, Dora’s Map and his cox box is always charged. Ted carries around a large notebook or iPad.

Strengths:

Ted remembers everything.  He knows the erg times of every athlete on the team as well as other teams.  He knows the race course like the back of his hand, and knows how the wind speed and direction affects the boat.  He scribbles constantly in his notebook, which he will fill up in a week. If asked if there is a correlation between shin length, stroke rate, and protein intake, Ted will show up on Monday with a report complete with a TPS report cover sheet.

 Needs to work on:

Sometimes Ted is so caught up in the numbers and drills that he may hesitate.  Even though the training and race plan is solid, he needs to trust his instincts more and just let go. He needs the confidence to go with his gut. Ted is more prepared than anyone else. Make sure to highlight that strength, before asking him to take a risk. He will be more likely to respond.

Otherwise, your best coxswain will fail to call the sprint earlier, because it was not part of the original plan.

Peyton Persister – “Well Coach always says…”

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Photo Credit: Photonest

Peyton loves coxing. She prides herself on her ability to “inspire” talent out of all the athletes. Like Ted, she will have an array of tools at her disposal to get you technically sound, however she is more focused on doing things the right way. Her way.  Rowing has rules, and Peyton knows them all. She is passionate about her job, and she is extremely loyal to the coach and her athletes.

Strengths:

Peyton does practice right. She will know the best way to get you warmed up and prepared physically and mentally to race. She gives great advice on how to approach an erg test. When times are stressful, Peyton will know the correct way to get everyone focused. She will be at every practice, even when she is sick, and may even train with the team because she wants to know what the athletes go through.

Needs to work on:

Peyton can be a coach’s pet or a coach’s nightmare.  No goofing off on Peyton’s watch. If you are talking in the boat, then she will call you out.  She will report to the coach anything you should not be doing. It is great that she can be right 99% of the time, but if she disagrees with the coach or athletes it may affect her performance. Help her understand that her views and opinions are valued, and it okay to agree to disagree. As long as she can share her input, she will stay loyal to you and the team.

Otherwise your best coxswain will “take her talents to South Beach.”

Isabella Imaginer  – “Let’s be calm…”

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Artist Credit: Miss_Dior on Favim

Rowing is an intense sport, so when Isabella arrives on the team, many may believe she won’t last. She is very quiet, and doesn’t get very excited. Yet, her calming presence makes her one of the steadiest performers. Isabella could be the difference maker when the boat is clicking.

Strengths:

“OHHMMmmm..” Isabella is a great listener, and she will be able to absorb many of the athletes’ woes. She gives excellent feedback to the coach how the boat is moving through the water. She will hypnotize you into focusing on the run of the boat instead of erg scores and the drama on the team.

Needs to work on:

Isabella can be too calm. You may need to snap her back to attention. Give clear and concise directions, or you will overwhelm her. Boat drama may cause her to shy away, and you may question her team loyalty. In reality, she needs time to recharge and process to find a solution that makes sense.  Pick and choose the right moments to talk to her about your rowing. Ask a pointed question and you will get a profound answer. Isabella may be the “missing piece” you need at the end of a stressful season.

Otherwise your best coxswain will vanish, and you will never know that she was gone.

Preston Promoter“You mad bro?”

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Preston is a bro. He is the A-team. At least that is where he believes he belongs. Watch out because the V8+ is his boat. He is one of the most competitive athletes on the team, and makes up for his small stature with his big and commanding voice. To be honest, Preston can be a total %#&!?, but that is how he rolls…

Strengths:

“Why would you want Preston in your boat?” The answer is simple. He gets it done. He is aggressive, and is constantly scheming up ways to win. He is the coxswain that you need with 250 meters to go. Is there a race plan? Scrap it. It’s all about the battle. The chess match is on, and he has stalked and scoped out all the other coxswains and athletes before your race. If there was a publicly televised weigh-in for coxswains, Preston would fight all the other coxswains and the officials.

Needs to work on:

Slow down bro. We need you to focus. Every practice is not a race, and sometimes we need you start paying attention to details. When Preston is bored he may find ways to make things competitive or stir up trouble on the team. It is not that he is manipulative; it is just that he wants a challenge. Give him one. “Preston, practice this drill, and I want your boat to master it by the end of practice”. Let him work his charm. He can be the best, and you just need to direct him there.

Otherwise, your best coxswain may find a way to get you out of the boat.

Hunter Harmonizer“We can do this…”

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Artist Credit: ChillyFranco on DevianArt

Hunter is the ultimate cheerleader. He lives for the team, and he will remind everyone why they row. He is the peace maker, and he will check in with each athlete before practice and competition to make sure they are ready. He is the pulse of the team, and knows what everyone is doing before and after practice.

Strengths:

Hunter is the pulse of the boat, and will be sure to tell the coach if anything is wrong. He gets fired up when an athlete performs, and will be exhausted after every erg test because he pours his heart out with them with every personal best and every failure. He trains with the team to stay in good shape and keep his weight down. Hunter wants to know what all the athletes are going through, because he constantly walks around in the shoes of everyone else.

 Needs to work on:

Hunter may be so concerned with pleasing everyone he may forget what his real job is and his role. In the last 500 meters he may hesitate to act. Hunter credits the athletes for every victory, and blames himself for every loss. Remind Hunter why he is important to the team. Praise him for his compassion for his teammates and his passion for the sport.

Otherwise your best coxswain will take his heart and his sleeve to look for a better “team” to motivate.

Moral of the Story

I believe the coxswain is one the most important “athletes” and “coaches” on the team. When the boat shoves off the dock, we are putting the keys to our Ferrari in the hands of this Cameron.

Know your coxswains. Develop them.

Athletes may be strong, but they need a leader to lead them and a “captain” to guide them. Winning the race is not as sweet as tossing your captain in the water following your victory.

Remember, you are the only crew that has earned that honor.

 

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 Thank you coxswains…

On April 2nd, 2016 I hosted “COACHDISC” for coxswains and coaches. This was a different kind of seminar, because we focused more on HOW coxswains say things, rather than WHAT coxswains say! For more information about upcoming seminars, or to register, click on EVENTS.

You don’t have to wait. Find out which coxswain you are! Get your profile now at Regatta Central. Allow 24 hours for processing!

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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.