Ditch the Idea of “Stealing” Dragon Boat Paddlers
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. It is actually discussed quite often: one team claims that another team “stole” their paddlers.
A teammate of mine recently pointed out how laughable this is. Did the other team sneak in at night wearing all black, toss your paddler in a giant sack and run off with him or her?
Of course when talking about such “stealing,” people are referring to the active recruitment of paddlers from other teams. Sure, it’s an ethical issue, but the truth of the matter is that each paddler is capable of making his or her own judgements regarding their choice of a team.
We are all adults. We make our own decisions. If another club seems more appealing to a paddler and he or she leaves your team for another one, perhaps that is better for your club in the long run. If a paddler does not have the loyalty to your team and its development, why would you want to keep him or her? Or worse, why would you want to force that person to remain somewhere he or she didn’t want to be? How is that productive to your team culture?
Paddlers change teams for a variety of reasons. It may be a simple reason such as the convenience of the practice schedule or location. Or possibly it is because a paddler is seeking a different type of training.
As I mentioned in my previous post which explained the difference between all-inclusive teams and competitive teams, paddlers need to find the club that best fits their goals. Often paddlers are seeking more of a challenge. If they find themselves feeling stagnant on their current team, it is in their best interest to look for a club that is perhaps more rigorous in its training.
Believing in and trusting your team are key points in the development of the club as a whole. Tweet it!
Other paddlers are “fair-weather” paddlers: individuals who change clubs to be on the winning team. They are quick to abandon their own team if it isn’t doing well and instead seek out the team that is at the top of the pack. On one hand, it is understandable that a paddler would want to get the solid training that the top team is obviously getting. But on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if a paddler who does this continually isn’t simply trying to ride the coattails of the winning team without having to put in the collaborative work of developing and synthesizing the team. Changing teams from year to year doesn’t really present a consistent training plan. Not to mention the fact that such frequent changes are a clear indicator of a lack of allegiance to the team.
Talented paddlers understand how important it is to find a coach, captain and team that are compatible with his or her goals. If your goal is to make your country’s national team, you should focus on finding a coach who has the knowledge and the ability to help you achieve your goal. If you hope to meet new friends and have something fun to do on the weekends, you should look for a team that is more social.
Sticking with the team through the tough times will not be as difficult if your own personal mission is aligned with that of your team. Believing in and trusting your team are key points in the development of the club as a whole. Without this conviction and confidence you are simply 20 people who paddle a boat together at the same time.
The success of teams often ebbs and flows. A team will perhaps have an exceptionally strong year or two (or more) and then may have a rebuilding year due to a variety of reasons: the loss of paddlers to other teams, family situations, illness, injury, etc. While it may seem like the end of the world at the time, such challenges are often what make a team stronger in the long run, as they work together to rebuild. As Canadian National Team Coach Chris Edwards said at a recent practice, “The grass is greener where you water it.” Put the time and effort into your own team rather than looking for the next best thing, and in time you will reap the rewards.
So, let’s abandon the idea of “stealing” paddlers and acknowledge that we are all adults capable of making our own decisions based on what is in our own best interest. Rather than focusing on what you might have lost, put emphasis on devloping what you’ve got. Encourage teammates to find the right fit for them and we’ll all be better off.
What are your thoughts on this controversial topic?
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