• Coach Knickerbocker

Bend Your Blade: 3 New Year Wishes for Masters Women


Happy Holidays Rowing Readers! I hope you are enjoying this holiday season in whatever way works for you.


I also trust that, for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, you are in the depths of winter and "enjoying" winter training. If you are lucky enough to be living somewhere warm and sunny then for the sake of all that is holy get outside and row!


Regardless of where you choose to be rooting yourself on the planet a new year is headed your way and while I don't believe in resolutions, I do believe in having some intentions for the next trip round the sun. So while I contemplate those for myself I have some wishes for all the masters women out there that are traveling at the speed of light towards their next year of rowing.


Here goes.


Wish #1 - Be Reflective

Consider all the ways that you can become better at anything and one indispensable element towards that end is the act of reflection.

What do I mean by reflection exactly?


I mean taking time to look into something on a deeper level than a simple review. We all have that experience of coming off the water and reviewing in our mind's eye the row we had. We chat about it with boatmates, we determine if it was a good row or not, we superficially decide all the reasons why it was good or not, and then we go back to our day to day.


But to actually reflect on the row means taking into account a wide range of elements and not just the "good" or the "bad" of the row or the pieces. It means not just superficially jawing with teammates about how you couldn't get your blade of the water or how the coxswain took the turn too wide.



Reflection entails some of the following questions: What was my intention today? I have written previously about having an intention when you head out for a practice. You will get more out of the row if you indeed start out with some sort of intention. That could be a technical intention, a physical training intention, or a mindset intention.


So this question would start the reflection process. Did I follow through on that intention or was I distracted by something? If so what was the distraction and why? Take some time to really reflect on your experience. For me I find this helpful to do on a weekly basis. Looking at the week as a whole and digging in to what worked and what didn't. There's no right or wrong way to reflect but try to commit to doing it deeply and on a regular basis.


Reflection also gives one the opportunity to take stock in how far one has come. Noting everything you've accomplished and giving yourself a pat on the back is invaluable to the process of continuing along the path.


Wish #2 - Own your power

You are incredibly powerful women! Masters women are the definition of grit when it comes to their rowing and their day to day lives. I know because I have been a masters rower, a masters coach, and now I have masters women as clients. I see how much of yourselves you pour into this sport, as well as into your lives, and there is no question in my mind that you are capable of greatness beyond that which you already experience.


The thing that will sometimes hold you back is not taking ownership in all of the power you wield. In fact it seems to me that many masters women simply do not fully grasp how powerful they actually are. I'm not talking physically or even mentally here, but rather a power in self-confidence. A power in owning your personal space in the world. An approach to your life that is compassionate and at the same time resolute about the direction you are headed in. Having a take no prisoners approach to one's path. Not allowing ANYONE to determine your process but YOU. Own that power, because with ownership comes many benefits. Own your power to not let anyone but you determine how much greatness you can achieve in any facet of your life.


Wish #3 - Have FUN!

Row hard, row well, compete, and have fun. This is not just a tagline for me but an approach to life and the way that I work with all my clients.


The first three go like this:

Row hard: Really DO the thing. I don't care what it is, rowing, child rearing, relationship, career, or all four, but if you are going to do it, do it with intention and presence. Don't phone it in. Ever. So in rowing parlance this is Row Hard. Really put everything of yourself into the thing. Own it. Take responsibility for the process good or bad, own the success or failure, hold it up to the sky and praise it's existence, but whatever you decide to put your time, energy, emotional capital, and gut into, don't half ass it.


Row well: Work towards mastery of the thing. become a student of the thing. Feel connected to it in a way that transcends whatever it is into becoming something bigger than just you. Put your heart behind it and love it.

So much of the rowing we do is based in our technical approach so really hone your skills around your technical rowing. Spend the time necessary to master your technique. When it comes to something else besides rowing, master that "technique" as well. There is technique in everything we do. There's a technique to our work, our relationships, our self-development, therefore there is always more to learn and all kinds of ways to improve. Row well.


Compete: This is a big one because it can carry so much baggage for some. Of course competing on the water is a big part of this, but when I say compete, I mean with yourself. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Push yourself to develop in all areas that matter to you. Be relentless in your pursuit of the next level. Similarly to owning your power, competing means you are not willing to settle for simply being, but want to indelibly imprint your existence and actions on to this world.


And now for the FUN part!

YES! Life is supposed to be fun. Meaning above all else, and taking the three previous elements into consideration, don't take all of this too seriously. Imbend some of everything you are doing with fun and some degree of lightness. Nothing is so serious as to warrant a heaviness of approach. Learning how to balance out one's life requires a lightness.


Having fun means you are enjoying the process of rowing hard, rowing well, and competing. That you can see how everything you are working towards and committed to is working together to create your life well lived.


If you are not having fun, or things are not feeling so good, or you are finding that everything just feels overwhelming and nothing is going quite as you had hoped, then take a step back and ask yourself this one question: What would this look like in order for me to have more fun and feel lighter? Then proceed to move through the process of the steps needed to reach that lighter point.


High level mountain climbers know that in order to accomplish reaching a summit like Everest they have to go through a process of acclimatization. They climb up several thousand feet and then live at that base camp for a period of time. This is followed by several climbs up to the next elevation and back down to base camp in order to prepare their bodies for an oxygen depleted environment.


In so much of what we do we expect ourselves to just get there the first time out. While in actuality it may take returning to your base camp in order to ultimately reach the goal of summiting your Everest. There is no shame in this. I'm suggesting that if you start out with something being "fun" i.e. enjoyable, fulfilling, feels good to do it, but it then turns into something else, return to your base camp and acclimatize.


Again it's about balancing out the seriousness of pursuing greatness and self-development with the fun of discovery.


To recap my three wishes for you.

#1 - Be reflective

#2 - Own your power

#3 - Have FUN!


Here's to bending your blade this year and pushing past your perceived limitations.

I absolutely believe in you and what you are capable of.

Otherwise I wouldn't do what it is I do.


Happy New Year Masters Women!


Row hard, Row well, Compete, Have fun!

Coach Knickerbocker

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