Consistency is an important part of sport in general, not just for kayaking and not just for freestyle. It doesn’t matter if you manage to do something perfectly unless you can do it again (or someone filmed it so that you can pretend you can do it again). In this post I’ll describe how I’ve worked to overcome poor competition performance, how I’ve become more consistent and how you can too.

The video I posted below took me roughly 20 attempts, of those 20 I failed catastrophically around 5 times (mostly by falling on my face trying to off-side lunar orbit). I managed to complete the full routine with varying degrees of success 4 times which gives me a 20% success rate; sometimes my cartwheels were clean, sometimes my loops were a bit more snappy, sometimes I actually scored my split-wheel, but my last attempt was the best overall…

This brings me back to the title. I had a 20% success rate. So the question now becomes how do I bring that percentage up? I’ve struggled a lot with consistency not just with kayaking but with running as well, my performance has had a tendency to yo-yo quite a bit, especially during competition. These are the 3 things that have helped me to combat this…

  • Firstly, break down what it is you want to do and make sure your goal is realistic. In my case I know the freestyle sequence I want to complete, but similiarly you could break down individual movements within a single trick. I know that individually I can do every trick in that sequence so my goal is realistic. I’ll practise every single trick in the sequence twice to make sure the movement is fresh in my mind, then I’ll begin to combine moves so that they’re bunched into groups – it’s easier to figure movements out if you keep them simple. If I was running a 5k, I might set a time I want to beat, I would find out how fast I needed to run each kilometer and I’d check to see if that time is achievable. I’d then focus on beating that time for each kilometer, breaking up the distance into more manageable chunks.
  • Next, visualise your goal. Pause for a moment and imagine exactly what it is you want to do. When I run a 5k or I hop on a feature when kayaking I think about what I want to achieve beforehand. If you already know what you want to do then it’s much easier to actually do it. If you just start surfing around and try to do random tricks then you’ll find it’s harder to complete all of them, whereas if you’ve practised what you want to do individually and you can see the sequence in your head it’ll be much easier to complete. Similiarly when running the 5k, if I just set off as fast as possible I’d burn out quite quickly, or I could go out too slowly and never make the distance up – you need to know what you’re aiming for first.
  • Finally, enjoy yourself! I think part of the reason I wasn’t performing as well under competition when running or kayaking is that I was tense, I wanted to do well and it made me do worse. I figured this out in Canada – we had a small cometition for fun in the last week of our stay and I performed better than I ever had done before. Why? I wasn’t taking it too seriously. I wasn’t playing it safe. I was giving it everything I had and was pushing myself without worrying about my final position – I was just having fun. You should try it some time…

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