Importance of the Long Game Perspective… [31]

Disappointed in competition? Mike Kuschner provides some insight:

Losing a competition, getting an injury, not advancing to the series final; disappointment is synonymous with competition.

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This month, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup qualifying competitions in Bermuda has seen many professional sailing teams eliminated from moving on to challenge the defenders, Oracle Team USA for the legendary America’s Cup trophy.

The same goes for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and as the first round of qualifying racing came to a close on Tuesday, the Next Generation US Youth Team was not able to put together the results needed to move on to the finals.

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Only a few months ago the Next Generation USA youth team was selected to represent the USA in the Red Bull Youth America’s cup and I started to work with each of the team members to bring them up to the physical requirements needed to compete in the challenging AC45F boats. I can’t say enough of how proud I am of how the athletes on the team have taken on the challenge of gaining the functional requirements needed to sail these high performance boats.  As a result many of them have a new perspective in how to train, eat and perform as athletes, which for a 20-24 year old in our sport is a huge leg up into becoming an elite performer in their careers. While it is disappointing the team couldn’t make it happen on the water with their results, the lessons learned from the process and journey will help propel them into their next sailing endeavors.

It is important to have perspective during these times of where you came from and what your ultimate potential is. The key is to understand that to perform in any sport is to buy into the long game.  Anyone can participate with little or no preparation, however, to perform in sport requires training and strategy over the span of years, sometime decades.

You’ll know when you have the characteristics necessary to excel in high level sailing when you can look at an event and each race saying, “I’ll show you how this is done”. When you can truly challenge the boat, the other competitors, and not have the conditions, physical requirements and strategic racing circumstances effect the end result, you know you are near your highest potential. It’s all about playing the long game…

While in Bermuda the last few weeks, it has been inspiring to see the humility of each of the individual athletes and teams as they are eliminated from competition. Below, I’ve included specific words from each of the America’s Cup teams post event interviews showing how putting disappointment into perspective and playing the long game is the most effective way elite athletes’ excel in their performance and create longevity within their careers.

Iain Percy (Artemis Racing)

“I have mixed emotions because personally I am a competitor and as a team we consider ourselves fierce competitors and we just lost a contest, so clearly we are hugely disappointed. We felt we could go all the way this time and we haven’t, and ultimately that is why we started this campaign. At the same time, we did start this campaign three years ago, as ultimately a new team… and have climbed a huge, huge mountain together and have gotten ourselves to a point were everyone can see undeniably that we are right up there with the best in this great sport of sailing and so we do take pride from that. Its hard for me to describe how those two emotions can marry themselves today. With a bit of time and reflection I think every member of Artemis racing will be very proud of the last few years.”

Iain Percy Post Regatta Interview

Iain Percy Post Regatta Press Conference

Dean Barker (Softbank Team Japan)

“Disappointment in the fact that we wont be competing any further, but the main emotion I feel right now is the immense sense of pride of what we have achieved in two years.”

Dean Barker Post Race Interview

Dean Barker Post Regatta Press Conference

Sir Ben Ainslie (Land Rover BAR)

“What we have achieved so far as a team I couldn’t be more proud of… yes we wanted to win the America’s cup, but we are going to be around for a long time to come and we will do that, we will get the America’s cup home”.

Sir Ben Ainslie Post Regatta Interview

Sir Ben Ainslie Post Regatta Press Conference 

Stay tuned as the defenders Oracle Team USA and the challengers Emirates Team New Zealand face off in the 35th America’s Cup from June 17th-27th.  Also, keep up with the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup teams as they compete in the finals June 20-21st.

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