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Jan 5, 2013

Space Dragons 2013! Part 4: Red/Blue/White Selection Criteria

The 2013 Red/Blue/White Selection Criteria will be the same as that of 2012 (for the most part).  While it may not be a perfect formula, we are limited by the tools we have.

It is likely that this same criteria will be used to determine who will race Mixed at the Club Crew Qualifiers in Oakland in August.  However, as mentioned in Part 2, our goal is to also race in the Open and Womens divisions, which means we'll be out there in full force, and the 2nd Mixed crew will have the chance to tik sum rass in the festival races.  "Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

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.  Bubble buster: demonstrate what you've learned in practice in SEAT RACES!  We are still figuring out the logistics for doing these effectively, but we hope that this will be a way for you to demonstrate how well you gel with your teammates in a dragon boat.

2. OC-2 Water Testing
The OC-2 time trials are the easiest 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 a coach who is steering. 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.  How do we use this data?  Refer to the FAQ.  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.  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 athletic competitions, 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 Ironman Roger 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.  The work you put in here will be visible in the quality of your practices (stay stronger for longer) as well as your OC-2 time trial.  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.  If any one of these traits is missing, that can be a deal breaker!  So be sure to pay attention to these unquantifiable details when working toward being a better paddler.

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!