Carlos’s Tip #224: Mental Preparation for RACING in ROWING

The balance of racing by Scott Frandsen
Only 12 days to go until our first race in Slovenia. I’m currently on a flight over to Italy for our pre-worlds training camp – we will spend 7 days in Erba to adjust to the time difference and touch up on our race prep work before moving to Bled to race. I know that there have been days when it seemed like the months of training would never end but as I look back now, the last 7 months have flown by. I know that the same will be true for the next 11 months leading up to London and it is a good reminder to take advantage of, and enjoy, every day over the next year of my life. As a great friend once told me “it is easy to see that our best days are ones where our passion chases excellence.” It is easy to forget that and to get lost in the day-to-day routine – but these are the days that create memories; these are the days that validate who you are and what you do.
As we get into this last stage of preparation, the race emotions are flooding back… and it all feels much more comfortable or natural than it did leading into Lucerne. I think I underestimated the fact that it would take a while to kick back into that ease at race pace and poise in race settings. We weren’t rattled but I don’t think we had that unflappable confidence that it takes to win. I learned a lot about myself in Lucerne and with a relatively successful race under our belts, I think Dave and I are in a great position to get the result that we want in Bled.
So much of achieving that desired result at this level is mental. Each program spends the winter training the physical and technical aspects of rowing – all, most likely, believing that they are doing more, or more effective, work than their competition to give them that edge. After that, it is all about blocking out all of the unnecessary negative influences and mind games and getting yourself into a mindset where you are mentally primed and balanced to get the best possible performance out of yourself. It is a balance of excitement, determination, fear, hope, anxiety, and passion, and tipping that balance too far in either direction will lead to a sub-par performance. Through the years you come to know the point on that spectrum that enables you to perform at your best and all of the pre-race routines and rituals are essentially there to ensure that you get to that point. This point will most likely change over the course of a career. I can remember listening to very different music and stalking back and forth around the regatta site to artificially pump myself up into that state of aggression that I thought I needed to race. Now it is more of a determined, calm state of mind; a place where I know what I need to do and the steps that I need to take to do just that. A place where I’m confident and nothing fazes me, but where no energy is wasted on being overly amped up. That is the challenge for the next few weeks. If we can do that, I think we will have a successful regatta in Bled.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
-Steve Prefontaine

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