So nervous for spring races! I’m so worried that we’ll start and I won’t keep straight, crash into another boat and not only ruin our race, but another boat’s. I know practice makes perfect but how do I take down the anxiety attack?
I actually feel similarly before most races. It’s not so much that I doubt myself but the adrenaline building from the time I launch all the way up to the start gives me the jitters. When we get locked on to the stake boat I usually take a second where I close my eyes, take a couple deep breaths, mentally run through my game plan, and tell myself that I know what I’m doing, my crew knows what they’re doing, and all we have to do is execute. As soon as the start marshal says “GO” everything gets channeled into the race. The adrenaline that gave me jitters before fuels me during the race – I literally think I run on nothing but pure adrenaline for those six minutes.
Related: Hi! Since the spring races all start boats at the same time, do you have any tips on steering straight? I can tell when I’m veering off my lane, but for some reason, I can’t/don’t know how to fix it! I remember you saying it’s all about the small adjustments, then straightening out, but I can’t seem to get it. [Ex today: all 3 boats lined up, me on the outside, I end up too far out away from the other 2]. Tips? Thanks!
You have to trust the face that you know what you’re doing, your coach trusts you, your crew trusts you, and you trust them. Assuming you’ve been having good practices and your crew is well-prepared, you’ve got nothing to worry about. You know how to steer. If you didn’t, your coach wouldn’t keep you with that boat – he’d put someone who know what they were doing in there.
If it’s something you’re not 100% confident about, practice your steering every time you go out. Have your coach watch you and give you feedback. Most likely you’ll have buoys when you race so you’ll have a guide on either side as you go down the course. When you get to the starting line, take a second to breathe, remind yourself of the plan, and get ready to go. When the starting marshal says “GO”, let your instincts take over. When the race is over you’ll wonder why you were ever anxious in the first place.