We are currently en route to Patagonia, Argentina where this year’s R4 Rafting World Championships are taking place. We’re excited to go paddle the river first time and show what we have worked so hard for. Having start line confidence is something that is crucial before you compete, so I’ve put together five key points that are essential in race preparations.
Straight after the worlds in Japan, we had a meeting with the entire team and coaches, recognising the amazing work we did but also being clear about the improvements we could make to take that into the training plan and team set-up for the next season. After the Euros in July, we repeated this in preparation for the worlds.
Creating our own training plan based on what we know works best. We felt confident that with our experience and with some input from others, we could make our own physical training plan and technical plan for the training weekends. Working as individuals on our paddling fitness during the week and coming together as a team during the weekends where we asked specific coaches to work with us. We had a clear understanding of what we wanted to work on for each weekend so would ask different coaches that were best suited to help us deliver those goals. Rather than a coach steering the session content, we set a session outcome to ensure it would fit the yearly plan. Not thinking that we know all the answers but training and learning on our terms has contributed to the confidence that we have done the best preparation possible for our team.
3. Process goals and having confidence in them
Most people know about the different type of goals and the importance of setting these, but it’s important to build confidence in these goals or processes. Sticking to the process goals on competitions and not being tempted by the outcome goals is important so you build trust that the process goals will take you there eventually. A line you are confident in versus that quicker line your competition seems to take, feeling physically fit on the start line versus training on the river as much as you can. These are just two examples of choices we have to make each time as a team and we are now able to pick our best option because we recognised that whenever we picked the options relating to our process goals, we got the outcome we needed or hoped for. This comes with race experience but can be added to training sessions too.
4. Respecting individuals
We have learnt about each other by training and racing together and asking ourselves what our behaviour looks like when being out of our comfort zone. Without making us feel it’s each other’s responsibility to make someone else feel good it is important to know how individuals can make themselves feel good so we can respect their needs (space, a good rant, sleep, food). Where it doesn’t affect training, racing or anyone else, we ensure we give people what they need by good planning (personal time) and being reactive to the situation (no point doing a session when we are all hungry).
5. Planning and preparation
Feeling prepared has been the most mentioned phrase when reviewing the Euros this year. Japan’s review, the race times of the pre-event in Argentina and the type of river in Argentina all fed into this year’s training plan to prepare us for racing. We feel we are physically and technically ready for what is coming. On top of that we have put the time in getting to know the area before heading out by looking at the river, race base, area of the accommodation and facilities available so when we arrive we can hit the ground running. We know the processes we need to test and get clarity on before racing starts so we can plan the perfect race day.
In a sport where the best of the world only meet once a year, I think it’s important to stick to the above and have confidence in your plan and your team. We don’t know how much the other teams have trained, how good they are if they will beat us or not. It shouldn’t be about that, it should be about sitting on that start line and feeling that you have done everything you can to perform well in your race.
I am excited to show the world what we have worked on the last year with this amazing group of women and any result we get is icing on the cake!