Canoe & Kayak Coaching Tips – Are We Over-Thinking?

As canoe & kayak paddlers I think we can be quite thoughtful creatures. Every time we go paddling we have to weigh up the options. Risk, ability, the challenge and fulfilment we will gain. We go through all the ifs, the buts and the maybes. The pros and the cons. We play it over in our head so many times it almost becomes a bigger deal than it was originally. So I ask you, as paddlers do we sometimes over think?

To coin a phrase from a well-known trainer company ‘Just Do It.”  Our routine of over reflection can sometimes simply overwhelm our senses. How many times have you sat at the top of a rapid weighing up the possibilities of it going wrong? Whether you feel up to it or whether it’s the day to give it a go? The problem with asking all these questions is that at some point we have to find the answer? How often do we put it off until next time? How often do we convince ourselves we are not up to the task? This little voice is there nagging away inside our heads until it brushes all logical thought out the window overwhelms us. Overriding any emotion or thought that’s quietly telling us that we can do something.

Over thinking causes a downwards spiral. There are too many variables in paddling to consider them all. It would take forever; this dynamism is usually what attracts us to the sport in the first place. The sheer randomness of things that can takes us by surprise creates excitement and therefore fun and reward.

The Right Questions

In order to avoid over-thinking and driving yourself mad with ‘can I?’ and ‘Cant I?’ questions. We must start off by asking ourselves the right questions. If you ask the wrong questions, after all, you will inevitably get the wrong answers.

Do I Have the Skills to Make This Happen?

This is pretty standard, and I’ve often heard paddlers say things like; “On a good day I can make it!” Well if that is so then let’s make it a good day! Or perhaps that voice is whispering to you ‘It’s a 50/50 chance.’

Is The Gamble Worth It?

If you find that you do have the skills to tackle something, if they are applied. Then the next step is to decide whether the gamble of giving it a go is worth it. This comes into the, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ category, and when people ask themselves this question they often think of physical injury, and yes, this is an important consideration. But the aspect that often gets over looked in those scenarios is the psychological effect. What I mean by that is the psychological effect of it going well, as well as the effect of it going badly. How will the outcome actually make you feel? If the thought of a swim makes you want to sell all your paddling kit, for an alternative lifestyle playing mini-golf at weekends. Then the risk is too high! Likewise is the risk of any physical injury.

The Difference Between Can I? And Will I?

The last question that we need to be clear about needs to be a direct one! The question ‘Can I?’ Can allow you to bluff an answer. Something like, ‘Yeah possibly’ or that ‘On a good day’ again. It allows that little, nagging rascal in your head to get the upper hand. The little doubt demon will take control.

Will I?

Will I do it? The answer is either yes, or no. There is no stepping around it, no sneaking the answer with an explanation. You have weighed up your ability with the environment around you. You have weighed up the risk both physical and psychological. By asking yourself, ‘will I do it?’ you will automatically answer whether ‘you can do it?’ too.

Get Rid of The Nonsense!

By keeping things clear-cut you can move on much quicker. Get rid of the clutter, the air of possibilities. If you wanted a hobby where you knew the outcome each time then building model aircraft, or worse, Ikea furniture, would be a good start. But even that isn’t a given from my experience.

You must understand that we do need some level of thought process and I do not wish to imply that we should just blast through challenging conditions. However if we don’t know then we must find out. Otherwise how else will we gauge where we are? To wrap this little episode up I will leave you with a nifty quote from a guy who I can’t quite remember, although I am sure he’s a clever chap. “If not now, then when? If not you, then who?” Have a think about it…or not!

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