Apr. 26, 2009
Guest blog provided by Andrew Milner
For those who haven't read it, the book is a collection of thoughts of his that just seems to come bubbling up and have been written in some sense of order. I found that a lot of what was said really clicked with me in how I would like to approach Dragon Boat, so one day I sat down and decided to transcribe some of the quotes that stuck out to me so that I could use them in paddling and coaching.
Since the beginning of the season is the best time to really break down technique for the year, I've been thinking about what separates great paddlers from average ones, and one of the things I always determine is “coordination”. So for now I'll present some quotes from that section of the book that really strike a cord with me.
The outstanding characteristic of the expert athlete is his ease of movement, even during maximal effort”
This quote always stands out most in my mind, because of the simplicity of it. If you look at slow motion of Usain Bolt (kinda have to, he's too damn fast!) or any high level sprinter, you always see just how relaxed they look while putting down those insanely fast times. The same thing happens with really good paddlers, while there is no doubt they are going hard, you should notice how smooth and fluid each of their motions is. It is to this state that I always try to get an athlete to.
Before movements can take place, there must be a change in the muscular tension on both sides of the joint to be moved. Any excessive tension in the lengthening muscles acts as a brake and thereby slows and weakens the acting. Such antagonistic tension increases the energy cost of muscular work, resulting in early fatigue. Thus, the fatigue experienced in new activities is not just from using different muscles but is also due to the braking caused by improper coordination”
“The novice is characterized by his tenseness, wasted motion and extra effort”
We have all seen some just starting out in our sport, and almost to a person they fit with this quote. This is something that I can’t emphasize enough; to pull harder by tensing up all over isn't doing any good to your end result. You are just going to make yourself more tired than what you are getting out of it. By feeling loose, you allow yourself to apply all your energy to exerting force on the water.
The ease of movement is the ability to perform with minimal antagonistic tension”
Learning coordination is a matter of training the nervous systems, not training muscles” People talk about “muscle memory”, but you must remember, muscle doesn’t have memory, they are basically pistons, they move things in one way or the other with force. The mind is what gets you to the point of having that coordination and this must always be emphasized before and during a workout. Workout your mind as much as your body, every practice, to best achieve that smooth coordination that is indicative of the well tuned athlete.
Here is a final quote that sums up my thoughts on coordination: “Coordination is by all means one of THE most important considerations in the study of proficiency in sports and athletics. Coordination is the quality which enables the individual to integrate all the powers and capacities of his whole organism into the doing of an act”
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