Coaches Corner – Race Day Planning

Ahead of the forthcoming Blue Lake 1 regatta, CRNZ coach and former Olympic K1 1000m champion Tim Brabants offers his words of wisdom on race day planning.

As the next season of racing is just around the corner starting with Blue Lake 1, it is worth spending some time reflecting on race day planning and preparation.

It is a good time to review with your paddlers what works well for them and how they can make improvements. Some of the younger athletes have had workshop opportunities on race day preparation from a both physical and mental perspective.

Help your athletes talk through their plans for racing. This should cover preparation that begins the night before with organising clothing, nutrition, equipment, transport and timings. Discuss warm up routines, race plans and visualisation.

These strategies can be practiced in the training environment to build familiar routines which can be applied on race day and minimise anxiety. This a complex area that can’t be covered in detail through this short “coaches corner” discussion, of course.

It is not just athletes that need to think about their preparation for race day.

I’ve seen many coaches flapping around on race day, running here and there and appearing completely worn out by the end of the day. This reflects on your athletes.

Yes, coaches do feel considerable stress and anxiety when they see their athletes push away from the bank to go and race. As a coach, you should also prepare thoroughly for race day.

Clothing, transport, nutrition and timings are equally important. Athletes appreciate the calmness and control that a coach can bring to an otherwise stressful environment.

Imagine the beautiful swans swimming with grace, calmness and control. Under the surface their feet are busy working away behind the scenes, propelling them on a course with ease.

I know a very well respected international kayak coach who was fast asleep in a deck chair under a tree whilst his K2 won their first World Cup medal. I asked him how he could be so relaxed? His reply “we prepared for this before, I knew what they could do”!