Competition is fun! That is one element, the primary reason for enjoying our chosen sport. Unfortunately it is also discouraging, inspiring, sometimes negative, not always fair and full of all kinds of surprises. Being placed under pressure either motivates or discourages you to lose momentum, faith, focus and motivation. You have personal abilities that are internal you can apply, it is a choice, choose well.

Let’s, take a look at building an in depth focus that absorbs the details, the one element you may be overlooking that will help you pull your talent and knowledge together to increase your potential.

What makes a wave form, shape and characteristic that you can understand well enough to use that energy to your advantage? Do you know how to read water so that you can match your watercraft to the changing directions and water dynamics? How does a river move over obstacles, an ocean wave form, a ground swell move into shallow waters? Do you understand the weather related elements that contribute to water movement? How will your vessel behave in those elements?

I pay attention to the sounds of the ocean, the direction of the wind, the What I do when I go to work in big wave locations is to purchase a nautical chart so I can study the underwater geomorphic terrain. Waves and created by wind, the shallower water gets, the more turbulence that can be expected during storms, wind, current or a combination of contributing factors. Where can you gain advantage by using the water conditions as an advantage to your skills and boat knowledge?

Underwater Terrain (Water depth and movement)
• Rocks
• Concrete or Rock Jetties (walls-refraction, rip currents)
• Unknown submerged objects that can be snags
• Reef, shoals
• Sand
• Inshore Holes

Wave/Water Energy
• Swell direction and speed
• Wave Intervals
• Wave Height
• Currents and directional flow, shoals, sandbars
• Tidal considerations and timeframes
• Floating debris in large or small clumps
• Wind velocity and direction, sustained winds
• Sandstorms with offshore winds
• Safety Zones, course layout

Some of these conditions can help you to determine how best to preplan your strategy and safety zones, and the type of equipment/apparel that will best suit the conditions.

You can begin to put a timeframe together for your heat:

1. Observing increasing or decreasing wave/swell/wind changes (tidal/current) and your time of competition, water and weather conditions, sun direction and intensity

2. The length of any potential ride and how many maneuvers/turns can/will be achieved. Count the number of buoys, rights and lefts, buoy distances and course design. What will your lap times be?

3. By timing the wave sets and the probable amount of waves you may be riding with, you can come up with a timeframe of optimal opportunity that works with your realistic abilities

Know your Equipment!

Truly to be successful the more knowledge you have the more you can use that knowledge to your optimal ability. Understand the inherent design characteristics of your race boat. You should be able to decipher its fingerprint signature and match that to the wave/water energy and directional changes of course design you are going to be working with.

You can also define some competitive differences for developing strategy with your ability vs. a competitor’s boat/athletic skill. Understand the set up of your boat, the pump, engine and hull design.

You must keep in mind 3 key elements:

1. Trim (body position/movement, boat components, boat contact with water surface)

2. Throttle Control (easy on and off the throttle, helm control, body position

3. Read the Water/Weather (changes phases while underway)

Think in your mind the change phases that the boat goes through these 4 different movements.

From there we will incorporate TRIM into the equation, there are 3 types of trim:

Body position and movement, bolt on products for the craft

• ACCELERATION-standing position, other racing boat activity, shifting weight

• PLANING SPEED-movement, throttle control, read water/weather

• DECELERATION-bottom turns into buoys, pulling out of turns, boat wake shift, safe use

• TURNS-evasive maneuvers, track line, safe speeds, trim, helm control

Think in your mind the changing phases that the boat goes through these 4 different movements.

From there we will incorporate TRIM into the equation; there are once again 2 forms of definitive trim:

1. Body position and movement (how many person(s) on track and location)

2. Boat positioning and changing phases against water surface

You have to match your body height and weight to the inertia and speed you will be working with, and your balance points.

Maintain positive balance points between the following:

1. Head
2. Chest
3. Pelvis
4. Knees
5. Ankles

Note: Keep in mind that throttle and helm control are both separate movements! Put your arms out in front of you, turn your head, but do not turn your shoulders, pull your throttle finger, but do not turn your shoulders or your head, all need to be selected movements.

You have to match your body height and weight to the inertia and speed you will be working with.

Understanding the pitch of your hull; the underside contact that pivots and glides as you guide the craft into the wave/water energy are your strongest key points besides physical condition and ability.

The greatest ability of any of the world’s top athletes is how easy their activity appears! They are not fighting the forces of action, they are synergized with all movements and their center of balance is working in unison with all the elements and forces. In our situation we have throttle control to place in this equation. We must stay IN STEP with the forward movement!

1. Speed-Mile per hour, angle and duration
2. Leverage-How you use your body to your advantage
3. Trim-Boat or Body
4. Flexibility-Stretching is strength and coordination
5. Acceleration/deceleration-How this contributes to centrifugal force
6. Reading the Water-watching the changing conditions and how it applies to your trim, response and balance points
7. Forces of Action-Hydrology, energy, movement, speed, impact, do not put a force against a force, something will have to ‘give’.
8. Contact-Remember, first is the water, second is the boat, third is your body, with throttle control. Observe your foot placement and quick movements in conjunction with balance of hips, shoulders and head/visual. Your body follows where your head moves.

The Secrets of the Worlds Greatest Athletes: They are RELAXED

They achieved this by practice, practice, practice. Evaluating in a positive critique what their ego needs, body, and equipment contributions were to succeed and overcome obstacles. Parts of your ego are necessary for competition, sometimes old parts of your ego must ‘die’ and new aspects must be borne or utilized. But this does not include arrogance!

What is the best training? Is to ride, and practice! Attitude is very crucial, but on that is professionally lined and executed. Make personal evaluations of your strengths and weaknesses. You can improve on both; there is ample opportunity for growth and corrections. You are only as good as your last training or your last win. Use your personal negotiating skills, think, think beyond ways you are comfortable with, ask questions.


Mental preparation is just as important as physical. Mentally imagine prior to your competition day a winning run, in your practice or warm up session, put on your game thinking and start here, visualize what you want. Run through the program, own it, claim it before you experience it.

Physical Conditioning
Stay in tune with your body.

• Hypothermia-thermal layer according to water/air temperatures and wind velocity for chill
• Hyperthermia-stay hydrated
• Stretch, know your bodies weak points and strong points!
• Observe dietary considerations-caffeine is a stimulate, avoid
• Rest and relaxation-de brief, do not stress, let go of things you cannot control
• Avoid Detractors-Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, wasted life time and energy
• BREATHE PROPERLY! Practice breathing techniques, pay attention to body tension

Know your goals and the goals of the judges/officials. What are they looking for? What is the criteria and the rules you must abide by? Develop a competitive strategy to focus on exactly those needs. Remember, competition is not fair, in fact it is exactly the opposite, it is frustrating. It will do you no good to focus on behavior/maneuvers that will not be scored on the scale, know when to go and what to do. You can look at your chosen sport as that of an fun athlete, dedicated professional or an hobbyist. To achieve the pinnacle of either will require the internal ability to define what that means. Mediocrity is not acceptable. Track your own progress and keep a log book, make adjustments in areas you know you can improve upon. Video your races and analyze.

Remember, life is not fair, in fact it is exactly the opposite, it is frustrating, a work in process. It will do you no good to focus on maneuvers that will not be capable of safe/competent completion, ‘know when to go and what to do when you get there, know your ending of the competition!’

Keep Thinking Keep Moving.
Don’t stop moving!
Every second is a foot or several feet, or meters of lost or gained terrain. You must always have your EXIT planned before your ENTRANCE.

This means from buoy to buoy you must be prepared, not reactive. If you fail to develop this skill you will trap yourself, your equipment in a situation that cannot be solved without losses. To win you must dominate other boats and operators skill abilities in the track design and water/weather conditions!

This is one of your most important skills, and it comes from your personal thought process and decision making skills. This will reveal how far ahead you are pre-planning and what you are not focusing on.

YOU MUST MULTI-TASK at all times!

This is done with forward movement , you only have SECONDS AND FEET!

You must learn how to develop intuitive and physical skills.

BALANCE: The posture of your thought process related to your body language and behavior

To achieve the pinnacle of successful competition, negotiations or real world difficulties combining the physical and mental elements will require the internal ability to define what that means. Learn to develop a program with yourself and team mates in advance, not at race day!

1. BALANCE-Physical and Spiritual, block external negatives that can influence your emotions

2. STRENGTH-Use only on as-needed basis, strength, release, relax, conserve

3. DESIRE-How to achieve your chosen target, you must ‘want’ to do this

4. AWARENESS-Observe and define everything, above, below and inside, use peripheral vision which takes more thought to calculate, fixed vision is more direct, you travel at speed, your thoughts need to be complimenting your movements at speed through conscious choices and executions of those movements, be alert, anticipate

5. FEEL-Intuition, gut feeling, angelic whisperings, experience, senses used as insight and inspiration

6. POSTURE-Your body language, this will reveal your harmony and balance

7. ELIMINATION-Reduce unnecessary body energy waste and positioning

8. RELAX-Practice this with your body and chosen movements at will, reduce tension in your body, reduce strain and resistance

9. ENERGY-Stamina and saving this to produce the proper amount of adrenaline, do not waste this energy but learn to conserve it

10. ECONOMY-Do not waste thoughts, do not give yourself away to others, contain your thoughts and your movements to your own advantage

11. CONTACT-Board contact to surface of water, body contact to surface of board, all must work in a source of synergy

12. MOMENTUM-Use to your advantage, keep moving forward, use timing to your advantage, watch your reaction time, your posture and placement. Your mind must move quickly with the changing elements and conditions to adjust body movements and board positioning.

13. PSYCHOLOGY-Strength of mind choices translated into body execution and decipher all chosen criteria at that precise moment, and moving into the next in one fluid organized union. Concentration is vital.

14. POWER-This comes from your ‘centered’ being, you can use this to your advantage once you understand how to pull all of these described elements into one united energy. This can be easily observed when a person does not know how to use power to their advantage in a positive fashion. They become quick to anger, frustration and action, they lose control. Power must be managed

“The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
Yet, the strong man must go”
Robert Browning-Prospice

Lesson Plan:
Write down the 14 Key building blocks of your Racing Mindset and define what those mean to you and how you apply them or do not apply them well enough. Next time you practice or race, begin to develop a psychological mindset that works for you. Practice this and evaluate your progress over the next year. Only you can change your focus. DO NOT BE MEDIOCRE!

Written by: Shawn Alladio-K38 Water Safety, IJSBA Water Safety Director 2006 World Finals

Hosted by: Kawasaki Motors Corporation, IJSBA, AWA H2O Responders, Liquid Militia