Dear Opti parents and sailors,
I hope you all had a great Easter! I apologize in advance for my lengthy email… Please read when you have a chance so that we can work together in making this Opti season as successful as possible.
I have seen huge improvements from each and every sailor. They are all eager, ask questions, and want to better themselves on the water (and during workouts!). I would be more than happy to go through individually what was accomplished this fall/spring and what we should work on, but I wanted to share a few updates regarding our team’s goals.
- We will aim to gain a more positive sense of self. No more negative talk!! Julia and I have talked to the sailors about rephrasing our sentences in a more positive light. Although our minds are brilliant and amazing, they can be easily tricked. When we say to ourselves before a windy race, ‘don’t flip,’ the last thing our mind remembers is ‘ flip, flip, flip.’ When we change this to ‘keep the boat dry and hike hard,’ our mind remembers factors that are in our control, and this will ultimately push us to be and sail better. Also, there have been many research studies that have shown the psychological benefits of repeating a positive mantra, such as “I can do this!” In our classroom and on the water, I want the sailors to focus on being more positive about situations, each other, and themselves. They are all growing exponentially — physically, emotionally, and mentally, — and I want them to feel empowered to do and be better at the end of the season.
- Gain independence — One thing that I have noticed with our sailors is that they are really dependent on the coach and their parents. I understand that they are still young, but they are more mature than we give them credit for. I mean, they are out on the water sailing a boat by themselves! They are able to multi-task and think about their position on the race course, how to make their boat go fast, where their body should be, planning ahead for their approach to the mark, all the while, avoiding other boats! That’s amazing!! However, I want their independence to grow a bit more when they are on land. I want them to try to launch their boat themselves, try to get a knot out of their bowline by themselves, figure out why their sail is too high, get their dry suits on by themselves, and take ownership of themselves and their boats. I notice that before they even try to do something, they ask for my help. When I ask them if they have at least attempted to do xyz, they say no. Our new rule at practice is to first try, then try again, and if you still need help, I will be right there. I hope that they do not see me as the ‘mean/lazy coach,’ but the coach that believes that they can do anything. I truly believe that when people feel empowered by others habitually, they will start internalizing that feeling and will begin to empower themselves.
- Foster a better sense of teamwork. As I said earlier, our sailors are asking for help before they even try, but only from me! With that being said, there are tasks (such as flipping your boat or putting your boat on the rack) that requires at least two people. I want the kids to learn about teamwork! Instead of me running from the opti dock to the pad to the grassy area to help each sailor flip their boat, I want to see more camaraderie. I want to hear more “Can you help me flip my boat? I can help you roll your sail!” Again, it is not that I do not want to help the sailors flip their boats, but I think that teamwork helps foster a healthier sense of community. The environment switches from competitive to collaborative, allowing the sailors to feel like they can be themselves, ask questions, and learn from each other.
- Lastly, the people that you grow up sailing Optis against are the people that you’ll sail against in high school, and then again in college, and for the rest of your life! So, let’s try to foster friendships from a young age :)
I plan on going over these goals with the sailors on Wednesday and/or this weekend, so please let me know if you have any questions/concerns/comments regarding these thoughts before then.
With all of that being said, I absolutely LOVE to coach all of these sailors. I have seen huge strides made by each sailor, and most importantly, it seems like they are all still having fun!!