degrees of practice
A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re sayin’.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I can’t explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.
3 hours of rolling with a fever is about enough. Mary took the photo after I wet exited, came up, and just clung to the boat. My eyes were burning from the bleachy pool, my Tylenol was no longer effective. I was exhausted and a bit dizzy. I was cooked and ready to go home. ( I should add a disclaimer here that exercise while ill or with a fever is BAD and carries certain serious risks. Again, don’t do what Donny Dont Does)
I’m probably a bit crazy about my practice routines. I really want to be “good” at this whole kayaking thing, but I know I’m not a natural. So I tell myself I can make up for it with “Butt in Boat” time. I’m pretty sure you can’t catch up with the best, but maybe you can at least keep yourself from looking foolish. In part I’m sure I carrying a bit of school sports leftovers. I hated sports as a kid. I sucked at it. At home we didn’t do that sort of thing. Besides there was a lot of fear that the “child” may get hurt. So, the only time I’d every picked up a bat or tossed a football or whatever was limited to those 2 week programs in gym class. So I was that kid who couldn’t thow the ball, couldn’t run fast enough, had no clue about the rules, and was the classic last picked bench warmer. Back then I just figured it was some genetic thing. But now I’m not so sure. I think I just didn’t have the same amount of practice as the other kids. School coaches should take more time with the kids who “can’t” play. See if they’re just not getting the practice time at home. Maybe they could play with some extra work. Not to say sports are of the utmost importance, but on the other hand no need having kids who want to take part thinking their just talentless idiots either. But that’s another subject.
Anyway, I just wanted to “pencil” out some loose thoughts about practice & learning. Of course these are my experiences and probably have no bearing on anyone else.
Just Showing Up
I would have to be in a hospital to miss practice, yet I’d cancel a day trip if I was feeling just “ick”. Practice is fun on a level, but it’s also about routine and it’s about growth. If I can focus, different condtions either enviromental or mental, are always good. A trip on the other hand is a vacation, pure pleasure. I don’t want to do that sick.
Even Suicide Takes Practice
Practice does not end for me until I’m dead tired. That is AS LONG AS I CAN PRACTICE CORRECTLY. If you can keep calling yourself back to your base, correct form, etc., you’re good. But if you’re just blowing everything because of sloppy hipsnaps, lazy sweeps or whatever, it’s time to quit. For 4 years now I’ve averaged probably 2 or 3 practice sessions a week, not counting just “paddling”. Yet as you can see I’m not all that good, which takes me back to paragraph 2!!!
Chase Moving Targets
I learned a long time ago that I get board quickly. Sure I do fixate when there is something new I want to learn, but even within that fixation I get board practicing the same thing over and over and over. . So as soon as I start feeling a bit too frustrated I know it’s time to switch to another target. That can be really refreshing and keep me practicing for another hour. Then I can go back again later to my first goal when I’ve grown tired of the second. Sometimes just that change of pace will produce a success.
Call Out Your Successes
At the end of the day now I always make a point about what I learned or improved in this session. The days I’m really frustrated are the ones where I know I learned or improved absolutely NOTHING!! Yeah, I know failure is the path to success, but I can’t help but hate the mucking along days. On the other hand I’ve found that “muck days” are often preludes to big win days. Sample note… Last night I got a “Proper” stick roll back. Somehow I had slipped into using a slap with the opposite hand. So I went back to angel rolling very slowly then after about 15 angels, I grabbed the sick and did a nice slow smooth stick roll with my inside arm nicely draped across the back of the boat. Then I repeated it about 10 times. Glad to have cleaned that up!
Ride A New Horse
I switch boats a lot. Most pool sessions are spent out of necessity with the little whitewater boat. But I try to use the Acuta as much as I can as well. Then I’ll take the explorer out to the lake and do it again. (You should have seen me trying to hand roll it last week. Ha!!). Getting too used to one boat seems like a bad idea to me. I probably picked this up from Alex. The more boats you practice in, the better you are in any one of them.
Do stupid Things
Ok, so I do want to learn things with names. . “This roll”, “that roll” or whatever. But I also want better balance and boat control. I don’t know how much I can emphasize how important I feel “play” is. Crawling all over your boat, falling in, flipping over, whatever. Last week Mary and I spent a good amount of time trying to do scrambles with our Pyrannah. We found out you can do it AND keep water out of the cockpit, but you have to do it just so. .
Paddle With People Better Than You
I’m not sure what is most important, what you can pick up OR how being the least talented in the group inspires you to work. Whatever it is, it helps. If I want to “be like Mike”, I want to play with Mike. It’s the only way. I’m not going to bug ‘em for help. I’m just going to watch and learn. I can still see how Lamar Hudgens would effortlessly pop his tail over and straighten the kayak as we worked our way though the triangle in Tybee. I’ve spent hours on that since then. I think I might just have it!!
I love to coach. Teaching is great for many reasons. But for my own selfish reason, it makes me think and re-think everything I think I know. I think. Explaining & demonstrating will make you better IF you don’t become dogmatic or routine. Every student, and every class has to be like your first. It’s not only students that need open minds to learn. Sometimes, the student will ask why you do something in a particular way. Sometimes, that’s a really good question.
Lastly, Take Advice From Everyone.
Last year I had this guy just abruptly tell me I held my paddle all wrong. My first urge was to show him my paddle control upside his head! I hate being talked down to. Well, In this case the guy had been in a kayak about one season and was just starting to assert himself. There’s a bit in the bible about not allowing someone new to the faith to lead a congregation. They tend to be over zealous in their new found faith. So I took time to explain to this guy why you don’t death grip a paddle and all was well. But on the other hand If I start thinking I know everything, I’m done learning.
Still feeling cruddy today, but I’ll probobly still go practice tonight. I can’t help it. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
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Added: Video – Rentry Roll II – re-enter, put on skirt, stick roll up. (sixth video from top)