Podcast Episode 4: Mental Training

By Jim on Monday, May 3, 2010

The mind plays an extraordinary role in performance; in this Podcast Episode I interview Andrea Furst from Mental Notes Consulting. Andrea, and her team, teach individuals and teams to use their mind to it's maximum ability in order to meet full athletic potential. Andrea is also a consultant to the Australian Institute of Sport and advises athletes on all matters to do with mental health and peak performance.

Andrea believes that your mental approach to performance in life, sport or work dictates your habits, character and thus destiny. Working on developing your thoughts and actions can be both liberating and enormously beneficial to your performance and your success.

I often tell my squad that  'people who work in offices go 'training', people who compete in races  go to 'race practice'. Every time you go onto the water you should achieve something that will make you race better the next time.

Andrea mentions specific technique training and separation of technique drills and race practice.  Whilst there is a time and place for specific drills and skills training I believe that you need to be very careful to always remember that you are practicing for a race.  If you drop your form in practice you will drop it in a race. 

Sure you have set days to work on particular aspects of your technique.  We often do set drills and technique training.  The important thing though is to make sure that technique work is also done as part of every session and every moment of every session.

For example, think of those times when you warm up and warm down or at the end of a big effort when you go slower or wind down.  Often paddlers will relax and begin to 'duck feet' (paddle out wide) of just plod along and drop all style and technique.  That is practicing to fail.  You should  do all the the little things right all the time.  You can certainly use less power on the blade as you slow down, but don't practice poor technique as you slow down.

Another point that needs to be emphasised is that when you start an effort you should train yourself to think that you are hearing the gun from the starter. The more you visualise this the less nervous you will be when a race comes round.

Never forget to work on the little things that make you nervous in a race. Do you need a faster start? Do you need to maintain technique in the middle stages? Do you need a bigger finish? The more you practice your race scenarios the better prepared you will be the next time you race.