Mental preparation for a rowing race
Preparing mentally for a race is just as important as preparing physically. One of the reasons why older and more experienced rowers beat their younger and sometime fitter counterparts, is due to having greater experience around timing and preparation.
If you lack this experience you can prepare yourself for races by doing the following things:
1. Have a race plan
The importance of having a race plan in order to keep yourself focused cannot be understated. It can prevent you from becoming distracted and caving under pressure. The New Zealand double at the 2012 London Olympics provides us with a great of example of executing a race plan. After the first 500 meters, this team was in sixth place, however, the crew regimentally stuck to their race plan and executed it perfectly which resulted in achieving first place. (Video at the bottom of this article)
2. Visualize what you are going to do
Go through the race in your head before you head to the start line. See yourself next to your opponents, pushing past them or attacking their position. Specific rates or calls at certain points of a race are also useful for keeping yourself focused.
3. Spend your time focusing on what YOU can control
You can control the following:
- Power output
- Your emotions
If you focus too much on what your opponents are doing, you will become distracted. This results in unwanted mistakes. However, some benefit can be obtained from being aware of your position in a race, because you can react accordingly to try to produce the result you want. Trust yourself and what you are capable of doing.
5. Don’t be afraid to lose
Many are afraid of losing. The underdogs in many sports are very likely to perform their best, as most of the time they are not worried about losing and the pressure of winning is not there. You can only learn from every loss and giving a race your best is what really matters. Fear of failure can be crippling.
6. It’s not over till its over!
This is really important to remember. If you are dead last and behind by 3 lengths it’s STILL possible to win! As long as you have not crossed the line – keep fighting! If you are in 6th place, attack the guy in 5th, if you’re in 5th, then go for 4th, and so on. A great example of this can be seen by the New Zealand double at the 2012 London Olympics who went from 4th to 1st in the last 500 meters! Outstanding result!