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  • Writer's pictureCoach Knickerbocker

Silencum Incarnata

After a number of years of engaging in a sport, or a profession, or a hobby, it's important to shake things up a bit and practice out of the ordinary actions in order to freshen things up and open up novel ways of understanding or experiencing your particular sport or hobby or...pick the thing.

The options for doing this are never ending.

You could decide to mentor or teach someone about this thing you engage in. Maybe it's someone who is just starting out. Or it could also be someone who has just as much experience as you, but is open to expanding their knowledge by understanding your approach, your philosophy of the thing, or your perspective.

You could also flip that coin and seek out a practitioner of your thing who YOU want to engage with in order to experience another aspect of your thing. This doesn't need to be some well known or a highly revered coach or practitioner. It could possibly be someone on your team or in your field that you respect for their approach to the thing.

In fact I would suggest that it doesn't matter who the Who is that you do this with. It doesn't need to be someone well known or well heeled in order to be someone worth learning from.

Everyone has something to teach you.


Another way to open up your thing would be to approach it in an extremely different way than you are used to doing and see what feelings, awarenesses, experiences that conjures up.

An example would be that if you are a consistent sweep rower who has never sculled or only sculled briefly, try regular sculling sessions, or even committing to sculling for a full season to see how it informs not just your rowing, which it will surely do, but how it informs your APPROACH to your rowing. I'm really talking about a way of practicing the thing, and by "practice" I mean engaging in a deeper experience of it.

Or, approach the everyday grind of practices with an out of the box approach.

Row silent.

Have you ever?

I bet you haven't.

I bet you've never gone through a whole practice, from showing up to leaving, without saying a word.

So what exactly am I talking about?

The next time you find yourself headed to a practice or some time on the water with your team decide to make the commitment to not talk the whole time.

Either tell people ahead of time that this particular day you will not be engaging in ANY conversation, or bring a 3x5 card with you and when someone tries to strike up a conversation show them the card.

"Today is my silent row day."

How is this different than simply not talking in the boat?

Well, first of all it's for a whole practice. It requires great discipline to not speak, not express, not command, not engage verbally during a practice. It also means that you're hopefully, taking in the environment in a different way, which lends itself to a different perspective.

Second, it will draw your attention to how much chatter is going on in your head. This in turn can offer you the opportunity to turn down the volume on that chatter and practice The Now moment of presence during the practice and in the boat.

At the least this will challenge you.

At the most you will gain an expanded perspective of just being in that moment with a thing that maybe needs a little freshening up for you.


Consider it a meditation of sorts.

An observation of oneself in the midst of an activity that in and of itself has a lot of bustling going on, right?

You show up, you get the oars down, you warm up, maybe you're filling launches with coach's gear, you review what the practice is going to be, get the lineups, get the boats, and on, and on it goes.

There's a lot going on. By not speaking you are removing one more thing that can be part of the commotion of a rowing practice. Thereby allowing yourself to be the observer of yourself.

I have done this.

It was extremely enlightening to approach something I had been doing for a long time, that I thought I knew very well, only to find that, once silent, another world opened up for me with this thing. For me it was like waking up from sleep, opening my eyes and finding myself in a new place.

So consider shaking things up and refreshing the approach you take to your thing.

Try a reboot.

Unplug and plug back in, in whatever way makes sense for you, and you may find a whole other dimension to something you thought you knew so well.

Sliencum Incarnata.

Row hard, Row well Compete, Have fun!

Coach Knickerbocker

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