Most of you have been around long enough to know how the coaches decide who paddles on which boat. Since it's a new season, here's a reminder of the Red/Blue/White selection criteria, as well as a few bubble busters in case there are multiple paddlers who are equally qualified under the usual criteria.
How do the coaches determine who paddles on which boat? It's no black magic. The coaches make the decisions based on what we believe is best for Space Dragons as a whole, and we use the following set of criteria:
1. Practice Attendance - Quantity and Quality
Coming to practice makes you a better paddler. Only at practice do you get the opportunity to sit in a dragon boat and get coaching on your technique. You work on starts, finishes, pacing, timing, blending, paddling-specific conditioning. How do you become a more effective paddler? Paddle more! BUT, just showing up isn't enough. In order to become a better paddler, you need to take advantage of the time on the boat by staying focused and determined, and by seeing every single stroke as an opportunity to make our team better.
2. OC-2 Water Testing
The OC-2 time trials are the best way for both you and the coaches to measure your individual contribution in getting the dragon boat past the finish line. Even in a dragon boat race, each paddler pulls some dead weight (the weight of the boat, plus the caller and steersperson). Similarly, in an OC-2 each paddler pulls the boat weight plus Devant. Water testing isn't everything - it doesn't show how well your technique blends with the rest of the paddlers, and it doesn't show how good your timing is, both of which are essential to being a good dragon boat paddler. What it does show is your fitness level, strength and how effectively you connect with the water to propel a boat forward. New this year: if you cannot make it to either the primary or make-up test dates with an excuse cleared with the coaches, your previous test time from the same season can be used (2011 times are invalid for 2012 tournaments). Remember, people tend to get faster as the season goes on, so it's in your best interest to test before every tournament.
3. Land Drill / Core Workout Attendance - Quantity and Quality
Dragon boat races are an athletic competition, so physical fitness and strength play an important role in how quickly we cross the finish line. Participating in the land drills and core workouts designed by Coach Galen helps build that foundation. Again, just showing up isn't enough. You need to push yourself in order to make yourself (and the team) stronger. Bubble buster: bust your ass at the SDWW!
4. Coaches Discretion
There are many unquantifiable qualities that make a good dragon boat paddler, things like timing, experience, technique, focus and a team-oriented, positive attitude. These are some of the things that the coaches watch out for when we stand at the bow during practice. A boat of the twenty "strongest" paddlers is not our fastest crew if they can't work together and motivate each other.
As always, if you have any questions about the selection criteria, any of the decisions that are made or what you personally can do to make yourself a better paddler, don't hesitate to ask! We want each and every one of you to finish off this season with NO REGRETS!