Struggle and Progression

Plainwell Swell Goofing Off June 11 from Keith Wikle on Vimeo.

I sometimes think about struggle and progression as a linked set of activities and values for coaching. Maybe, learning in general. Students often get frustrated when something isn’t immediately easy or apparent. Rolling, surfing, or complicated patterns of maneuvers for turns where edges switch and body weight shifts from rail to rail can be really hard. Timing, precision and use of the environment are all critical. So in order to learn something new, you need to keep going out and trying. And in most cases failing, repeatedly. I have been accused of flailing to success. I take that on the chin, because of my track record with learning new skills this way. Everything I have ever learned that has been hard I learned by trying over and over until I make it. This has been true with soccer, skiing, paddlesports, and even at my job.

I always take coaching and suggestions and try to implement the feedback from good coaches and paddlers better than me. I refuse to feel bad or uncool about failing. The thing I respect most in students is dedication to practice on focused skills. I expect failure. Struggle is part of the process. Without the struggle, when you hit your mark, the feeling of success is pretty empty. Determination is way more valuable than talent. I think as coaches it’s important to show that struggle from time to time. Just like it’s important to show competence and good judgement. It makes the journey more fun for everyone when you know that everybody is struggling to learn something new.

This video shows my success moment on learning to “tailee” or stern squirt (ewww), my Pyranha Ripper. I got into white water boating kinda late compared to surfing and sea kayaking. I have been focusing on trying to learn a few playboat moves on our local wave to make things fun and challenging. My friends have watched me out there flailing since last year. Still not perfect, but another repeated demonstration of flailing to success.

The video also shows me hand paddling onto the small wave at the swell. It’s super fun to do this with a spotter. It’s great for boat control and use of edging without using your paddle.