Wouldn’t it be great if there was one simple performance tip that works for a huge number of outdoor sports? Something short and easy to remember that you could easily use to improve your focus in the midst of a dynamic environment. Well, how about
Look where you want to go…
It struck me that this applied to everything I do, from paddleboarding to running, biking to boating. It can help you turn into hairpin bends, hit a line on a rapid or simply help you breathe easier. But it isn’t always intuitive and I often find myself repeating it to students as well as muttering it to myself when I’m trying to up my game. Below are a number of variations where ‘Look where you want to go’ can improve performance…
Look where you want to go when turning – In dynamic sports where you are turning at speed, looking towards the exit of a corner will aid your turn. Example applications: tight corners on a bike, eddying out in a kayak, buoy turns on a SUP.
Look where you want to go, not where you are… – Lifting your head and focusing further ahead to read the trail or river prevents you getting caught in the trap of trying to react to what is immediately in front of you. Example applications: whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, mountain walking.
Look where you want to go, not at your feet… – Get your head up and look ahead to improve posture, open lungs, lengthen spine for better performance. Example applications: cycling, running, paddleboarding.
Look where you want to go, not at obstacles in your path – If you look at that rock you want to avoid don’t be surprised when you are magnetically drawn to it! Focus on the line you want to take, not the thing you want to avoid, on the gaps not the obstacles. Example applications: whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, snow sports, everything!
Look where you want to go, to keep your balance – Looking ahead to the horizon has a hugely stabilising effect on our balance. It can often be the difference between staying upright or falling off! Example applications: balancing a narrow paddleboard or kayak, track standing on a bike or keeping an MTB upright through a technical rock garden.
It would be remiss of me not to point out that when I say ‘Look’ I mean turn and look rather than doing some sort of action man style ‘evil eyes’ sideways glance! Looking with just your eyes will help a little but this tip is actually asking you to move your head and turn you shoulders towards where you want to go.
Ultimately you want to make looking where you want to go instinctive, but until that is the case I find it a really useful focus point when I need to perform, a mantra I can repeat to myself when I most need the advice. Try it, see if it works for you.