Thursday, May 23, 2013

Racing and Blogging

If you are a sailboat racer and you write a blog about your racing, does the blogging impact your racing performance?

And, if so, is it in a positive or a negative way?

When I first started blogging about sailing, I naturally assumed that there would basically be a one-way flow of information from the sailing to the blog. But now I'm not so sure. I've become aware of all sorts of ways in which there might be feedback from blogging to sailing.

But does blogging make me a better sailor or a worse sailor? In what ways might my blogging affect my sailing?

1. Goals. If you set yourself goals for your racing and publish them on your blog, then you are pretty well committed to making a serious attempt to achieve them. It's one of those commitment devices I wrote about a few years back.

Personally I'm pretty good at NOT telling the world about my racing goals. At least not before the actual racing. But I did slip up back in 2008 and write about my goal to sail my Laser 100 days in that year. Going public on the goal certainly did serve as a motivator to get out there and sail more days. Holy Shit - it's the end of April and I've only done 23 days! But in the end I failed. Only made it to 94. So what does that prove?

On the other hand, in 2007 I did blog about my goal to finish in the top half of the fleet at a world championship. And I did it! So what does that prove?

2. Learning new skills. If you are trying to improve a certain skill and you write a few blog posts about that skill, like say "how to do a kick-ass Laser roll tack", does the mere act of writing it down help you to learn that new skill? Does it implant the technique in your memory? Does even just doing the research for those posts help you to learn how to do better roll tacks?

You would think so, but given my total failure to become a better Laser sailor in the eight years I've been writing this blog I somehow doubt how effective this method really is.

3. Mental attitude. If you read any book about sports psychology, you will learn that self talk is a big deal. What you tell yourself you are is what you become. Tell yourself that you are confident at doing killer starts and you will start doing killer starts. At least that's the theory.

My problem is that I like to write self-deprecating humor. Laugh at myself. Tell the world I am fat and old and unfit. Make fun of all my crazy mistakes on the race course. It makes for some amusing blog posts (I think) but am I sabotaging my racing performance? Can I portray myself as a clumsy, incompetent, accident-prone sailor on a Friday, and then go out and be a top-notch racer on the Saturday?

But let's turn that one around. Another thing that those sports psychology books always talk about is how to overcome an error in a performance. Apparently if some people make a major mistake in a race, say blow the start, or capsize, or hit a mark, they have enormous difficulty in putting it out of their minds. They become angry at themselves and start sailing even more atrociously.

But not me. If I do something really bad  like getting strangled and pulled out of the boat by another sailor's sheet or breaking my gooseneck when I am winning a race my immediate reaction is to laugh and think, "This will make for a really funny story on the blog." I'm so happy to have such a disaster to write about. Much more interesting than winning the race. So then I can forget about the incident and get on with actually trying to win the next race.

There are probably all sorts of other examples of how blogging feeds back into sailing but Tillerwoman almost has the dinner ready and it's Toad-in-the Hole!

Got to go.

Please feel free to complete these thoughts in the comments.


Baydog said...

Yes, almost always in day-to-day life, I think at one point during any particular day,'this would be good material for a blog post'. It worries me sometimes.

Baydog said...

And frog really does taste like rabbit...

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Changing just a few words from James Salter's:

"Pages are the worn stones of . . . life. All that is beautiful, all that is plain, everything that nourishes or causes to wither. It goes on for years, decades, and in the end seems to have passed like things glimpsed from the train—a meadow here, a stand of trees, houses with lit windows in the dusk, darkened towns, stations flashing by—everything that is not written down disappears except for certain imperishable moments, people and scenes. The animals die, the house is sold, the children are grown, even the couple itself has vanished, and yet there is this page. . . . Life passes into pages if it passes into anything."

Sam Chapin said...

If there were two of you and one blogged and one didn't. Then after 8 years you could race against each other.
Do what yo like and not worry.

Tillerman said...

It is true. I find stuff in my blog archives that I had completely forgotten about. It's not really a diary - more a collection of jottings on what I was thinking about or what amused me on any given day.

Ahh, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Tillerman said...

Exactly Sam. I like writing posts like this. That's why I write them.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Forgive me some more lines on ageing from Salter?

"In youth it feels that one's concerns are everyone's. Later on it is clear that they are not. Finally they again become the same. We are all poor in the end. The lines have been spoken. The stage is empty and bare.

Before that, however, is the performance. . . ."

Tillerman said...

Forgive me some lines on aging from Tillerman.

I never want to grow up Grandad.

Why Emily?

I told Daddy last night, I always want to be his little girl.

Well you always will be his little girl, Emily. Even when you grow up and get married, Daddy will still think of you as his little girl.

But Grandad, that doesn't make sense. I have to grow up. I can't always be a little girl.

Well Emily, actually you don't have to grow up. You have to grow older, but you don't have to grow up. Look at me, I never grew up.

You're silly Grandad.

Yes Emily, I am silly. That's what I mean. I'm silly. I never grew up.

(Puzzled silence.... )

Brian said...

Toad-in-the-hole? Is that like adult-size pigs-in-a-blanket?

Tillerman said...

Bangers in Yorkshire pudding.

Mojo said...

... Tea for the Tillerman

Baydog said...

Could you be my adopted Grandad?

/ Pam said...

See one, do one, teach one is an excellent way to learn. Blogging is a form of teaching. Even as you recall a particularly humorously botched maneuver you analyze what went wrong to be able to describe it in a post and you learn from it. Doug thinks blogging has made him a much better sailor. Don't tell him but I think he's actually gotten worse ... but he's certainly having more fun.

Tillerman said...

Hmmm. Not sure if I'm better or worse a sailor since starting blogging. Not much evidence either way. It is true that my best result at a Masters Worlds and my best Laser race win ever happened since I started blogging. But they might just be outliers and could be due to other factors anyway.

Never really thought about whether I'm having more fun sailing since I started blogging. It has always been fun. The blogging is fun too, so I guess total quantity of fun has increased.

Genie said...

Blogs, logs, rants, rails
Do these make for better sails?
Could depend on intention, I hasten to mention,
Of the various sailors in question......
Narcissistic pretension, moral dissension,
Cooking a hen, tricks for Zen,
Having a laugh, or knitting a scarf.
But, this I do know only too well...
Sailors must their tall tales tell.

Tillerman said...

Nice on Genie.

think we might have a rhyming verse group writing project soon...

O Docker said...

Oh face it - if blogging about racing improved your sailing, you would have won every major senior Laser regatta by now.

I think blogging about racing makes you believe that you are becoming a better sailor even if you're not actually getting any better.

But what's really important anyway - high self esteem or a bunch of silly race results that are read only by the sailors who actually win those races?

Countless medical studies show that a strong sense of well-being reduces stress and leads to better health. If blogging makes you think you're getting better, then blog on, I say! You may never win the Big One, but you're more likely to be around when they hold the next one.

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