It's almost the end of another year. Time to take stock & have a think back over all the time you spent on the water. How did it go? Did you get out as much as you wanted? Are you still stoked or starting to lose the faith a bit? If you're not still fired up & on the water in all weathers, maybe your approach is missing something...
Free-sports haven't really developed to the point where coaching is a regular part of the sport for most riders. Whilst you might get the odd props or pointers from other riders, you have to manage your own day to day coaching if you really want to get better. I'm going to take a quick look at what you can do to make the most of your time on the water. NB - Whilst this is written with kitesurfing in mind, 'cos thats what I do most, it applies to pretty much any free sport you can think of.
Firstly, give yourself some clearly defined targets to achieve. Your goals can be anything you want, but write them down precisely, so you know when you've nailed them. An example of a goal for an intermediate kitesurfer would be "Land a powered backloop with a grab on both tacks". This is ideal because it's super specific & you can either do it or you can't. Obviously your goals will be highly personal to you. If you're new to kiting, then something like "ride upwind & turn without sinking on both tacks" would be a great goal. Have a really good look at what you can do already & where you want to be & by when...
When setting initial goals you need to make them possible or you'll be disappointed. To ensure you'll keep progressing quickly, break a long term goal down into a series of short term goals. You concentrate on completing each short term goal properly & they build you towards your long term goal. I'll use my first example: A grab backloop on both tacks with the kite low. For someone who is up & kiting & doing their first jumps, that would be a fairly long term goal - you couldn't go out & do it straight away. You get there by breaking it down into a series of achievable short term goals. As you complete each short term goal it builds confidence, muscle memory & a stoke which makes you want to keep trying. The short term goals for this trick would be something like:
- Learn to jump on your bad tack
- A simple grab in a jump
- A kite high backloop
- Backloop on the other tack
- Backloop grabs
- More powered loops on both tacks.
Finally these bite size goals will have built towards your long term goal of a nice stylish looking grabbed backloop in whichever direction you want! Something you definitely couldn't do at the start of the process...
During the year things will no doubt change for you & your goals will have to shift to match. You might not be able to get to the water as often as you want & you might have to rethink your goals or how long it will take to complete them. Whatever happens, your goals must be kept realistic or you will lose sight of them. I like to keep a diary of my sessions, noting the kit I was using, the conditions & how I did. Recording your sessions is great, you can see your progression towards your long term goals & then tick them off & reward yourself when you complete them!
Your short term goals don't even have to be directly related to your long term goals. You might hit the gym, use an Indo Board or go running to stay fit for when you kite. You could set your alarm clock super early to check the wind & grab an extra session before work. You might buy some better gloves or a warmer wetsuit so you can keep practicing longer. You could go all out & set a goal of drinking a bit less the night before you sail ;) It all adds up to you having fun & getting the best out your time on the water.
I'll post some more in the future about specific methods to boost your rate of attaining short term goals, but in the mean time have fun & go get 'em :D