The importance of GOALS.

By Jim on Monday, December 19, 2011

The importance of goals …

The first thing that you should do when setting out on your paddling adventure is come up with some achievable goals.

When I was very young my dad said two things to me that I will never forget. The first was “If you ever win an Australian surf GOLD medal they put your photo up on the wall for life” and the second thing was “if you train very hard you can go to the Olympics.”

A lot for a young boy at the age of 12 to take in, just an off the cuff comment from my dad I guess. Then 10 years later I won an Australian Surf Gold medal, then the next year I competed in an Olympic final.

These are what are called long term goals.

I first started paddling at age 14, just floating around in the flat not knowing what I wanted to do. Then at 17 I took up surf ski paddling full on, training harder then I could imagine. In that year I came second to Clint Robinson, the Olympic K1 1000m champion. So a paddling career was now the chosen path for where my life would head.

The first thing I needed to do was set some goals, real ones, not dreams like when I was a kid, short term, medium, long term and ultimate goals.

Short term
My short term goal was to win my local races over all distances in the off-season anything from 5 to 15km. These races were on every weekend so I could always have something to focus on throughout my weeks training. Never with a short-term goal would you freshen up or rest.

Medium term
This is a specific goal that my training program would focus around, it was a race that would be say three months out from my racing season. Say a major surf carnival or kayak regatta. This race should hold a lot of importance to your season but by no means should it be the be all and end all of your season. A race that you have always wanted to do well in and one that everyone talks about.

Long term
This is a funny one in terms of how long should this long-term goal be! I used to like it to be adjustable, for me it could have been making the Australian kayak team and when I did that I would then add in winning medals in Europe.
This is the goal your whole training program for the year should centre around.

Ultimate goal
This is the goal that you should aim as high as possible and allow lots of time to achieve it. Have this in the back of your mind 24/7. Your life is about watching this race as you build up to it, the thing you dream about at night. The one that brings you the most joy if you achieve it.
For me it was competing in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. This goal was six years in the making, the day they called my name out to represent Australia is a day I will never forget. The day I would do all the training again, the cold, wet and hot days when I was just exhausted made this goal so rewarding.

These were my goals, yours can be the same or different. Mine were never to easy nor were they unachievable, they just required plain old hard work. Hard work that I loved doing and would do all over again.

With all these goals it is easy to get caught up in your dreams of what you want to be. But at the end of the day with any goals you have to be consistent and work hard.


It is about sticking to your program and believing in that program.
Take the two examples of consecutive Olympic champions 1992 and 1996.
one Clint Robinson comes from the Sunshine Coast Queensland in Australia. An environment with hot, warm paddling conditions all year round.

Knut Holman from Norway trains in a country that freezes over for nearly six months of the year. What are the common traits??? They both believed in their programs and both trained very hard.

Training programs and lessons on how to paddle are the answer. You need good technique and good structure in your training to know where you are headed. To find about more about these programs and structures check out and - these will help get you on your way.

What I did when I had my structure in place was to go and find people to train with, good people for the hard sessions and company for the long slow recovery paddles. I believe training in groups is the way to go; you can feed off each other and at the same time enjoy having a laugh at training.

The thing I have found of late with people learning to paddle no matter what form of paddling is they tend to make it to complicated. Paddling is a simple sport and has three parts to the stroke that will help you get you to your desired spot.

A. The catch part of the stroke is so important this is the area that sets your whole stroke up. This is the part you should feel the most in your trunk. Your trunk should be used heavily in this part of the stroke.

B. Accelerating the stroke. This is the middle part of the stroke that has the most room to alter; if you were paddling in the flat the acceleration part would be slightly longer then in the surf. In the surf you are catching swells so the boat will be moving already, so if you keep the blade in the water to long you will slow the boat down.

C. The exit, this should be the cleanest part of the stroke. If it’s not the cleanest you will bucket water up at the back of the stroke and cause injury to the shoulder plus lift the tail in the air, causing you to paddle like a dolphin. Nose up tail down.

So the best advice you can be given is to keep it simple and be true with your goals and most importantly of all enjoy it.

Yours in Paddling,