Drew Ginn, from N E White

April 19, 2007 |

 Current World and 2-time Olympic champion in rowing, Drew Ginn of Australia, maintains a personal blog that's full of useful material.

Drew writes on a broad variety of topics, but all have the constant theme of how he will retain his World and Olympic titles over the next two years. Drew writes viscerally, often discussing how he deals with nerves, boredom and flatspots in training, his competitors and his performance strategies. In today's preference for the manufactured athlete, Drew's blog is refreshingly real and authentic. Drew is also no stranger to writing about his psychology and the mental processes of "intention" behind his training and racing. His observations are of much value.

The posts provide a great deal of insight into the mind of a consistent top-level performer and the take-aways for market practitioners are obvious. I highlight a few insights from his recent posts:

1. Little changes, no matter how insignificant, can add up to big performance improvements - especially if you're already at an elite level

a. "As we are now coming into a period of racing I reflected recently on one of my favourite routines. The pre-race cleaning of my oar handle is something that I actually look forward to. About 60min before race time I enjoy taking a walk down to the boat pontoon with wire brush and oar. Feeling the energy of the event is intense and to be able to take some time to absorb the buzz while doing an almost therapeutic process of clean the handle.

Next week we go into competition again and I know that there will be a number of occasions when I am standing out on the pontoon, taking it all in and enjoying one of the subtle pleasures of preparation to perform."

2. After you have done all you can to prepare, enjoy the experience of performance

a. "It's the night before we start to race our National trials…. I will keep this short, but will say this; over the last two days since arriving in Sydney we have enjoyed the final stages of preparation. It is all fine tuning now and being able to play the waiting game is critical for success.

We have focused on how we step the blades out of the water during the last few session and what's interesting is to have those moments when the light bulb goes off. It's not anything earth shattering, simple things really that seem to bring it all together. The stability and match up through the drive and the flow around the turns has improved. So tonight we are spending our time kicking back watching some television. We're pretty relaxed about the racing that's coming up; at least right now we're relaxed. I am sure in the morning there will be a few moments of those building nervous"

3. Control your controllables

a. Drew has written much about how he and his pair partner have been striving to find the right boat, the right oars, the right training regimen so that they can go ahead and focus on getting the job done with minimum distraction. The correlations here are obvious. Know your style, know what equipment complements it, have your backups and test, test, test. Leave as little to chance as possible.

b. "Some thing I will mention now about some conversation we have had about testing and it revolves around the need to find equipment that suits the athletes rowing style. Our subjective view so far and probably of the years is that different styles of rowing would suit different boats. In saying that then this testing is more about find the equipment that best suits the style of rowing that we use and plan on improving.

In brief our style that we focus on is length and rhythm. I know many coaches and athlete also have this as their aim, but we all interpret thing differently and more important is what actually happens at speed. So to ensure we are translating our intent into action we have also been gathering video footage to compare and analyse also and currently we are happy with our consistent length and as for the rhythm we are working on how to improve it further. This is really about drive and recovery ratio and the flow and acceleration. The turns become so important in creating rhythm and are for us key areas that need improving I think."

c. "Everything in our training is designed to enable us to find ways to improve and the spark gained from finding new ways to improve is energising. Our abilities, our attitudes, our motivation, our team, our families, our work, our methods, our measures, our connection, our equipment and our belief have to expand and continue to develop. These things are essential and none can be ignored."

4. Know that you have a Mistress and embrace her every now and then.

a. In reference to the Olympics - "When I think of the situation I am in training every day and preparing for the moment in the future, I do it because I love the challenge. The blistered hands, sore back, the fatigue, aching muscles, the concentration, focus, passion, fear, frustration, love, gratitude and the connection are all part of the full experience and maybe, just maybe from the outside it could at times be considered crazy. Well then that is part of it to. In fact it's probably a great indicator that I am heading in the right direction because so many don't seem to want to step from within the crowd. To make a difference, to be better, to stand out does require resilience and persistence. The funny thing is at a very early age we all have these qualities. What changes as we grow from the 2-3 year old child into adulthood?"

5. Nerves are good, and no matter how good you get, you'll always have them.

a. I highly recommend the whole post.

These are just a few quick observations. Time spent reading Drew's blog will provide a wealth of material for improvement in markets and life. It's not every day you can learn directly from an Olympic Champion. 


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