It is often said that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. This has been especially true in sports, where athletes constantly strive for improvement and success - even if that means making changes based on what happened before or last time around!
The recent races at Henley Royal Regatta were tightly contested, with many winners taking victory by tiny margins; an indication perhaps that we are witnessing some shifts?
Some athletes refuse to learn from their past and instead continue the same processes, expecting things to turn out differently next time. This thinking is extremely limiting, which makes it one of the biggest obstacles to succeeding in sports- how can you improve if your mindset isn't willing to admit when something went wrong?
This process prevents them from making necessary changes because they are unwilling or unable (perhaps both) to accept that maybe there was a mistake made themselves in different parts of the season.
Mistakes aren't bad or wrong; you need to recognise, accept and then choose what you'll do.
What is the biggest mistake?
Performances are generally looked at in isolation, especially if it's the season's pinnacle.
Athletes that had their best race will look like there is nothing more they could have done. Equally, there's a lot of strategic chat about what technical pushes they should have done here or there or technical changes to be made. Whilst these are valuable, another few essential elements can heavily reinforce them.
Your Henley performance wasn't just the six or seven minutes racing down the track; it's what you've done from the start of the season. The race result is a byproduct of your preparation.
Some questions that will give you a greater insight are.
How have I looked after myself well over the season?
Where did I not look after myself (outside of the boat)?
How did I utilise the coach well?
Where did I not use the coach for fear of what they'd think?
Where was I ahead of my recovery and academics?
Where was I cramming academics and damaging my recovery?
Where did we build our team dynamics?
Where did we split and divide our team?
Working with a large number of athletes, from the Olympic to student-athletes, you tend to see a lot of common themes. As a result, they continue repeating the same mistakes over and over again, which only leads to further disappointment and frustration, unless challenged. To achieve success in sports, you must learn from your past.
These aspects are often overlooked; however, if you're winning or losing races by a few inches or feet, it could be the 1-2% you need.
words by Junior Rowing News
photo by Roesie Percy