Lost Confidence After Lesson - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 10-12-2010   #1
 
Atlanta, Georgia
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 10
Lost Confidence After Lesson

This is pretty long winded and I sound like a freaking mental case, but if you are able to get through this I hope you can offer some thoughts, advice, etc.

After paddling for 3 months, I have developed some bad habits and felt that they would hinder my progress as I work toward my goal of class III-IV whitewater. Just this weekend my boyfriend and I received instruction from a well regarded kayak instructor to help overcome bad habits and to "relearn" some of the basics. The instructor was fabulous and the day was packed with information, mild scolding and encouragement. However, by the time we moved on from the flat water session to the river session, the weight of my knowledge and skill gap crashed upon me. I sat there in the eddy looking at benign class II shoals (at the most) and was gripped with a level of uncertainty I had never felt before. He sensed this and gently urged me onward as we paddled through some class II+ water for a couple of miles (he totally gave me a chance to bail so this was my choice). During this time, I never felt the elation of being on the water as I usually do. My apprehension never turned into delight even when I did manage to make it through some tougher areas. While I made it down one of the steeper drops, I was flipped by the wave train at the end, tried to roll twice and finally wet exited. I never flip in wave trains! I love wave trains! I turn into a woo hoo girl on wave trains and everyone within hearing distance knows that I freaking love wave trains! I made it through the rest of the run without capsizing as the instructor stayed very close by, but I was very unsteady and was pretty relieved to get off the river even though it meant hiking up a steep rocky hill and running half a mile to get to the car.

With another weekend of paddling coming up, I am experiencing an unsettling lack of confidence. I thought a session with an instructor was supposed to build my confidence. Instead I feel like I just flunked a test. Perhaps my ego that thought he would be impressed with some part of my abilities? Instead to me it feels like everything has to be rebuilt from the ground up. He told me I need to toughen up, but at the same time he told me I was trying too hard to be perfect. I'm quite confused! I know this is a head game and one that I've allowed to have me give up on things in the past. What can I tell myself to move on and accept that I can still have fun without being exceptional at something? Will it just take a few days for everything to sink in? Is this a female thing or do macho dudes also feel this? I bet they don't want to eat a tub of ice cream over it.

If you've made it this far, I thank you for reading. I appreciate any words you can offer to help me get back on track.

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Old 10-12-2010   #2
 
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
A lot of would-be kayakers (most I'm told), give it up because they can't get their roll.

I'll just get this question out of the way, have you seen EJ's Rolling and Bracing DVD?

I ask, because I think I would have possibly given up the sport if it weren't for that. I just started in July, and after that vid, had a pretty decent lake-roll. Prior to that, it was a losing battle, at least by my own standards, in taking the classes.

With the long summer days, I went to the lake, typically on my own, but not always, after work, and worked on my brace and roll. On the weekends, I'd hit the playparks, and hope that I'd nail a few rolls, but it took awhile. I tried to actually hit some whitewater at least once a week, and for the most part, I did.

Now, I can say I survived Foxton and Waterton (Class 3+ at this level, I think). I was the least experienced of the group, and flipped a lot, but nailed all my rolls, and didn't swim. Some of it was luck, but a lot of it was just the combat practice up to this point. Prior to this, I had near-swims, on Class 2-3 water. One where I attempted two rolls, and finally went for a third one and got it. At the time, I knew I would've gone for at least a fourth one, because I remembered to take breathes on my attempts.

Also, it took me about as long to get my combat brace, as it did my roll. I thought I could brace, but until I saw the aforementioned dvd, I didn't realize that I had no idea what a real brace is; despite taking the classes. Sure, you can kind of brace without touching your head to the water, but that's not nearly as effective as real one.

Anyway, it's not you. I think it's the instructor. I don't care how reputable he is. Most people who get typical, professional instruction, give up kayaking. It's just the way it is. The people who can teach you a roll for the first time, in under 15 minutes, will show you the problem isn't you.
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Old 10-12-2010   #3
 
Atlanta, Georgia
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 10
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Originally Posted by Kendrick View Post
A lot of would-be kayakers (most I'm told), give it up because they can't get their roll.

I'll just get this question out of the way, have you seen EJ's Rolling and Bracing DVD?

Anyway, it's not you. I think it's the instructor. I don't care how reputable he is. Most people who get typical, professional instruction, give up kayaking. It's just the way it is. The people who can teach you a roll for the first time, in under 15 minutes, will show you the problem isn't you.

I'm not as discouraged about not consistently getting my roll as just generally feeling that I suck at practically everything involved in kayaking! I only swam twice this summer (before the lesson) so I felt like I must've been doing something right even if my roll wasn't there. Lessons just made me see how incredibly wrong I was to think that maybe I wasn't a total failure at something.

As for the video, indeed I do have it and its certainly been helpful in the short time I've had it. You know those dive in movies? I want some pool to display that DVD while I practice rolling. My memory just isn't doing a great job of holding in that information by the time I get to roll practice. Ah, the joys of aging.

I really don't think it's the instructor. Not trying to be self centered here, but I know I'm a bit of a mess when it comes to criticism even the constructive kind. You should hear me after performance reviews at work! Hot mess! It's not an instructor's job to do a complete psychologically evaluation before training. And he certainly did take a different approach once he figured out what he was dealing with.
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Old 10-12-2010   #4
GoBro
 
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BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,493
I'm curious to know the specifics of the skills you were working on, that got you so distracted. It might help to know why you flipped or were intimidated.

These might help:

1. Stay loose. I tell myself to stay loose before any rapid I am challenging myself on. It's hard to teach, and sometimes the message gets lost while working on other technique issues. For instance, you caught an upstream edge because you were tight in the hips, but you will get the feedback to edge downstream. The river is more powerful than you by far and you are just along for the ride. So don't try to fight it.

2. Paddle with confidence even when you are scared. Before you paddle into a rapid tell yourself you own it. Paddle in like the best thing that has ever happened to the rapid is your arrival. When your mind is in the state, you sit tall like you should and you take big sexy strokes like you should. This greatly improves how you do in a rapid. The exact how to of shutting out the fear and anxiety and what ifs is the topic of many discussions. I just listened to this one the other day http://traffic.libsyn.com/inbetweens...ther_Final.mp3 . I have a very specific mental process that helps me, but it might not be the same for you. Heather's presentation does a better job of helping you find your own way to get to that mindset.

3. Many women find group dynamics in kayaking to be a stumbling block. There are many classes and camps setups to specifically deal with that. You may want to look into one if paddling with your boyfriend or having a male instructor makes you think less about kayaking and more about anything else.
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Old 10-12-2010   #5
 
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 44
It's all in your head. The apprehension will make you paddle like crap, which will make you more apprehensive. I remember going straight from learning to roll in a pond to a class IV run, for my first run. I did fine. I paddled a few more class III's and IV's without incident. Then I flipped in a IV, got beat down, lost my paddle, almost lost my brand new boat. Then I became very apprehensive/nervous to get on moving water, but still attempted several III's. I got my @$$ handed to me on all of them, multiple times. Lost 4 paddles in 3 weeks. I then went down some "boring" class II runs (they weren't boring, I just thought they would be), and for once worked on the basics, learned to roll in moving water, got my confidence back, and was back at class III's and IV's by the end of the season.

Just paddle what you are comfortable with. Flip upside down once in a while in slow current (if you're feeling comfortable doing so), and try to roll. Just have fun with it again.

I still get apprehensive once in a while before a run, even if it's a run I've done 100 times. If it's a dangerous run, I usually sit out that day, or decide to run something else, because if I have that feeling and still paddle that run, it seems like things often get ugly. The worst beatings I've ever taken occurred on days I felt some sort of apprehension or anxiety, and considered not boating that day.

These things come and go for most kayakers...if you stick with it, you will get over this round.
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Old 10-12-2010   #6
 
North Bend, Washington
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 476
While I have taken a kayak class years ago, my main thing is rafting. A couple of years ago on the 3rd day of guide training I was ready to give up. I kept hitting rocks- couldn't make the boat go where I wanted etc. I came home crying that night. The next weekend I was apprehensive. Took the green-est of green lines. About mid-way on that 4th day I looked around me and thought- screw it! I'm just gonna do what feels right for me- to hell with how should I hold the damn paddle. If it doesn't work- I'll figure out what does.

Guess what? It did the trick. I started to trust myself again. I came home the next day flyin high and excited to get back on the water.

I still have a lot to learn. I am aware of that. But I look at it now as a challenge as opposed to "I suck- I need to be as good as...." It really is a head game. Before hitting the river I listen to my loud obnoxious music and hit the put-in with the mind set Glenn (above) talks about. It works wonders! Make that river yours!
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Old 10-12-2010   #7
 
Arkansas during the off-season Nomadic during the summers! :), Arkansas & Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 950
Saying you NEVER flip on wave trains or anything for that matter is not a good mentality. I learned on a class 2+, 3- FP of the Poudre and worked my way up to the gnarrows at low water 4+ when a friend wanted to run FP. I thought I never flipped even when I didn't know how to roll and guess what...screwing around I flipped! Never say never! that's my .02
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Old 10-12-2010   #8
 
Atlanta, Georgia
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by gannon_w View Post
Saying you NEVER flip on wave trains or anything for that matter is not a good mentality. I learned on a class 2+, 3- FP of the Poudre and worked my way up to the gnarrows at low water 4+ when a friend wanted to run FP. I thought I never flipped even when I didn't know how to roll and guess what...screwing around I flipped! Never say never! that's my .02
So when you didn't flip, didn't you feel like you must have some innate skill or something? Like some awesome balance or spidey sense for squirrelly water? I didn't think I could never flip on wave trains. It's that I hadn't which gave me a little hope that even someone like me had some small amount of skill (I was that kid who always got picked last for kickball and was always the target in dodgeball). It didn't make me feel like I didn't need to learn how to roll, but it did allow me to keep getting out there on the water while I was still learning to roll (which is still a work in progress for me). That little hope that I was somehow good at even an element of something was what got me through the frustration of watching everyone around me nail their roll while I sat on the sidelines feeling so motion sick that even the sound of water lapping against the pool made me wanna throw up.
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Old 10-12-2010   #9
 
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Centennial, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 17
i would like to add 'patience' to the list. the more crap you try to focus on while in the moment the more frustrated you will become. there are about 1 billion and 1 variables in this sport. you will have good days and bad days and your confidence will be shook up. but you can always count on a great story at the end of the day. give yourself some time to develop your skills and have fun with it.
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Old 10-12-2010   #10
 
Prior Lake, Minnesota
Paddling Since: 1960
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 6
Eventually, it will click

It wasn't until I was watching my 6-mo old grandson teach himself how to sit up did I understand why I wasn't consistent in my roll. He laid on the floor and rolled his hips over and kept his head down and up he came effortlessly. "OMG. That's what they've been trying to tell me," I said and with that, eventually came a handroll which saved me a couple of times when the river monster swiped my paddle. However, I still slip back once and a while to braindead, but that's only when my brain zeros in on my paddle's position or something instead of turning off my cognition and just roll intuitively, mostly when changing over to a different boat. Lighten up. Have fun.
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