A couple of incidents when I was racing last year got me thinking about our attitude to enforcing the rules when sailing.
It was a light wind race, force 1 to 2 and after a so-so start I was approaching the windward mark in third.
I tacked for the windward mark right on the layline, with the guy ahead of me coming across on port and clearing me by one to two boatlengths. He went past me and tacked right on my wind, giving me a problem – I was now in bad air meaning my approach to the windward mark would be slow, and my pointing was affected by him too (because of the bad air) so I may not quite lay the mark. Continue reading
In a study that has become quite well known since it was published, psychologist Alan Richardson showed that visualisation (or mental rehearsal as it is more commonly referred to now, as it is thought that using all the senses produces better results) can improve performance nearly as well as physical practice. Briefly, the study was as follows:
Three groups of basketball players were tested to see how much they could improve their free throws
- The first group would practice free throws for 20 minutes a day
- The second group would only visualise themselves making free throws
- The third group was not allowed to practice or use visualisation
The third group didn’t improve at all. However, the group that was practising for 20 minutes each day improved 24%, whilst the group using visualisation improved 23% - almost as much as the guys actually physically practising. This was revolutionary stuff, and we now hear elite athletes talking about visualisation quite regularly as part of their preparation for big events.
How can normal sailors use mental rehearsal?
So what does it mean for lesser mortals, and particularly beginner sailors, club sailors and open circuit sailors? Continue reading