I’m fit, but not athletic. Growing up in an erudite family, not an active one, I didn’t play any sports as a child. In part because I was late to the game—any game!--I’ve always considered myself merely an adequate athlete but not a talented one.
Last week I was feeling particularly low on the jock-scale: I got cut from the line-up of my rowing team for a big-time race this weekend. Instead, our coach boated a teammate who is 20 years older and a half-foot shorter than I am. Ouch! Our coach couched his decision with an encouraging message, though, saying I “have a great deal to offer in strength, fitness, and competitiveness, but it needs to be refined in a certain form to make” me the rower he thinks I’m capable of being.
I’ve licked my wounded ego, but I’m left with considerable doubts about whether or not I am athletic enough to fix my rowing technique problems. I feel I am fundamentally lacking the proprioception and kinesthetic awareness (fancy fitness-speak for knowing what my body is doing when it’s in motion!) to make the changes needed to become the kick-butt rower I want to be. (As one of my sympathetic teammates put it, I “will be a force” once I can channel my fitness and strength.)
I believe Part I of the transformation is having faith in my abilities. I recently interviewed a world-champion sculler who is bound for the Olympics. I am trying to ingrain some wisdom she shared with me. “Believing that you can master parts of the stroke that are currently tricky for you is half the battle. That you can change it and make it right. You have to be a little stubborn.”