The Bumps: Just Like the Real Thing


Duncan Holland writes:
I have already written about the fact that I noticed the similarity between the analyses of our Bumps crew after the race and those of a high-performance team after a Championship Regatta. Recently, I realized that there is another analogy that interests me anyway!

Are there similarities between the Bumps and Championship Regattas?

The Bumps involves racing four times over the space of four days. Each day the crew starts in a potentially new position based on yesterday’s results, theirs and their competitors’. This has some similarity to a championship regatta such as the Worlds where crews are faced by four rounds. Where the analogy is interesting is on the mental side, the mental preparation and reaction.

Before the first day there are hopes of triumph, and fears of the unknown. Can we win Blades or a medal, are we competitive? After the first race, there are some data, hopes may be alive of a triumph, there may has to be some reassessment, some re-alignment of goals to make them realistic. After days two and three the process continues, good performances bring added pressure and expectation, a poor one the need to re-assess. If things go well for three rounds then before the final race there is a crescendo of hope and expectation.

As a case in point; our crew (Champion of the Thames M5)  came into the Bumps with high hopes and some trepidation. On day one we went out after our best ever training session and rowed poorly to a relatively easy bump. Afterward, we talked, realized we hadn’t executed the plan and promised each other to do better the next day. The next day we rowed much better, followed the script better, and got a good Bump, well earned by our standards.

Facing the truth

Now comes the interesting challenge; we can sniff a winning week, Blades are a possibility. We know we have to row as we did, we need to stay focused on the present, to stay in our own boat, to be patient. In fact, to execute all the sports psychology clichés that are familiar to us all.

This is where the analogy bites for me. I have spent a long time telling people to do these things, now I have to do them myself. I’ll let you know how we, and I, get on.


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dick Wallin

    It’s interesting to hear an elite sportsman – OK an ex-elite sportsman if you like – admitting how hard it is to do what you know is right, particularly when you’re tired (for me after about 20 strokes 🙂 )

    What I have found hardest in re-learning to row after a gap of thirty years – and when I only ever did it for a few months the first time round – is trying to remember all the various bits of technique at the same time. My mind/body combination is like a water filled balloon (you might say that’s just the body part!) and when I think of getting one thing right, the rest all go wrong – thinking of hand height, so squaring is up the creek and I draw into my waist washing out half the stroke, drawing in to the chest so my hand heights then go wrong unbalancing the boat and so on.

    The improvement in my rowing in the last month is in stopping all that thinking and starting to feel – rowing by analogy not technique. Feel the glide, feel the blade light in your hand in the recovery, feel the elbows on the armchair when you draw back.

    Feelings are so much easier to accomplish I presume because they are more sub-conscious… Is there any research into that?

    Hopefully Champs 5 will successfully execute the clichés tonight!


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