Mark My Words
WORDS - Mark Shinn
INTRO – This issue, Sergeant Major Shinn cracks the whip and focuses the troops on learning faster this season. Now drop and give him 20
I have to admit that, like most, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of winter kiteboarding. The thought of that trickle of cold water seeping its way down the back of my suit is often enough to give me second thoughts about attempting the trick that’s been playing on my mind. Instead I play it safe, performing the tricks I can do with a reasonable certainty of not falling in.
“Lightweight!” I hear you cry, but do you honestly give it 100% every session throughout the winter? I find the greatest satisfaction in kiteboarding (and any other sport for that matter) is learning something new. The feeling of elation that comes from a trick's completion makes the countless swims from getting it wrong pale into insignificance. Can you count the number of new moves you learnt in the last couple of months during winter?
As the amount of neoprene needed to survive in the water decreases, maybe it’s time to give your riding a kick and think about something new. Here is my five part plan on how to move on to bigger and better things:
1) REALISTICALLY ASSESS YOUR ABILITY
Don't focus all your effort on a trick that is way above your current ability level. Everyone wants to mega loop like Ruben, but if you don’t have enough control to safely land a front roll without the kite ending up in the water then you might be better off setting your sights a little lower to start with. Watching yourself on video really is the best way to learn, so try to get a friend or partner to film you riding and get a feel for your true level. Often what you see will appear much different from how you imagined it. Once you have an idea of your true riding level you can start to think about the next progression.
2) START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW AND MOVE FORWARD LOGICALLY
Every single trick can be broken down into a combination of skills and techniques picked up from learning other moves. You may find you can already do all or at least most of what you need to master several new tricks; all that’s required is identifying the component parts and combining them. If you can manage a back roll then the double is not much beyond your reach, a grab or tweaked version is well within the realms of possibility...and a back roll transition as good as in the bag. Don’t be content with doing the same trick time and time again, concentrate on adding some flare and style. The main difference between good and incredible riders is not the tricks they do, but the way they do them.
3) BREAK YOUR TRICK DOWN INTO A SERIES OF SIMPLE PARTS
In any trick there is a symbiotic relationship between you and the kite. Before you fling yourself into the air, ensure that you have a complete understanding of what you are trying to do and where the kite will be at every stage of the trick. The human brain has the unfortunate trait of only being able to concentrate on one thought at a time (despite what you ladies may have read in glossy publications, humans DO NOT multi-task!). In practice this means that you can only concentrate on one aspect of the trick whilst trying it; the rest will be taken care of by your unconscious, and you can bet with 100% certainty that the point at which you lose clarity when thinking the trick through before-hand is where it will all go wrong in reality.
4) ANALYSE YOUR MISTAKES AND THINK ABOUT HOW TO PREVENT THEM
Unless you’re super-human, you are going to fail on your first attempts. However, if you keep trying and making the same mistakes all you are going to do is ingrain the mistakes into your head and make it harder to change your technique. After each attempt, take time out (not necessarily on the beach - you should be able to think a little whilst sailing along) and consider where and why it went wrong. If you really can’t figure out what is happening ask a friend to watch you attempt it, or better still, whip out the video camera again so can see for yourself. When you have what you should be doing clear in your mind, hold that thought as you initiate the trick so that your one-track-mind doesn't wander off on to other aspects...or lunch. If you're focused, the chances are that you won't make the same mistake many more times and you can start to move on to the next point. One of the biggest mistakes I see is riders learning tricks on only one tack. Do yourself a favour and attempt every new trick on both sides from day one. It will feel just as hard either way in the beginning and you’ll learn both sides together. On your awkward side, you really have to get your brain around what you want your body to do, which will really pay off in your natural side's attempts. If you leave it until you have the trick mastered on one side, you’ll be left with the almost impossible task of learning it the other way (no one wants to go back to the beginning once they’ve learnt a trick) and it's likely you will never manage it.
5) ONCE YOU'VE NAILED A TRICK DO IT WHERE YOUR MATES CAN SEE... BUT MAKE SURE THEY DON'T KNOW, THAT YOU KNOW, THAT THEY ARE WATCHING!
The rules state quite clearly that a trick never happened unless it is witnessed by another rider, or caught on video, so it’s time to throw down and settle into your new rank in your beach's pecking order. No one likes a rider that pulls tricks right in front of them and causes them to stop and lose control, and taking someone else out is neither big nor clever, so have a little respect for your fellow water users and find some open space. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to show your new-found skills from a safe distance downwind and in plain view, or upwind and some way away. Trust me, your friends are watching and if they deny it, they’re probably just jealous!
So bring on the new season, some new tricks and a new-found enthusiasm for your sport. Sounds like the recipe for a good summer to me. Good luck!
OUTRO – Remember you can upload your own videos to www.kiteworld.tv. Just slap the SUBMIT VIDEO tab and follow the instructions. Let's see some action (and a little pain never goes amiss) boys and girls!
Find more on Mark and his boards at: www.shinnworld.com
This column is in issue#33. Read this whole issue online for free, now click here.