Proper planning prevents poor performance
Or to put it another way, failing to plan is planning to fail.
I am a huge believer in planning ahead: better to do things sooner rather than later. Whilst you may think you have plenty of time now, real life is not always ideal and a spanner can always get thrown in the works. So, whilst a positive mental attitude and always hoping for the best is of course a good thing, at the same time we must also prepare for the worst.
When it comes to logistics, the costs are black and white: flights, ferries and even hotels and parking become more expensive the later you leave it to book. It is crazy to delay things and waste huge amounts of money when you can be sitting in the exactly same seat on the plane having paid twice the money just because you didn't act early enough or worst-case scenario there may be no seats left on the plane you want or even no places left at the regatta, yet people regularly makes these mistakes. In most cases the planning is simple, just a matter of sitting down and working out which regattas you need to attend, how you get there and where you stay when you are there. At this stage, most of our 2018 planning is already set and it is just a case of filling in the detail.
One of the biggest barriers to performance is of course illness and injury, which of course is less black and white, part of which is luck and part of which is good planning. Simply, the better rested you are, the better your diet, the stronger and the better your immune system the more likely you are to avoid problems. Simply put, being strong and with a full range of motion can not only make you faster on the water but also prevent injuries before they occur. So, there is a fine balance between over and under training and this is something which comes with experience which means making a good plan.
Of course, when things do go wrong you need to act quickly. Taking the rest early when you get ill or injured can prevent it from becoming far worse, meaning a speedy recovery time and a better chance of a full recovery. Lijia Xu from China with whom I worked on 2 Olympic campaigns recently had decompression operations of both shoulders and was given 6 - 9 months recovery time, after struggling with the injury for more than 4 years.
So, when I started working with Tuula, of Finland, another fantastic sailor, I was very keen to see any potential problems dealt with as soon as possible. Poor Tuula has suffered with severe tonsillitis every winter, again for several years, which of course has directly and indirectly affected her sailing. This year she made the very sensible decision to get them removed and I am very proud to see her sailing so well in Japan after what is a very unpleasant procedure (which like most operations gets worse the older you are when you have it).
In future blogs, I will be looking at grass roots sailing...
Jon Emmett has over 20 years of coaching experience from grass roots to Olympic Gold.