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Contact During Competition

For stalwarts of the rowing community, this time of year is very exciting as it's Henley Royal Regatta. For the first time my nephew is racing and his whole school eight have de-camped to Henley for the week. I saw him briefly yesterday, my sister texted me later and was eager to find out how he was.

“We're not getting any news this end”, she said.

And that gave me the idea for this months blog.

During competition, particularly with team sports, the dynamics of the team are vital. The coach will spend a lot of time working on getting the team into 'the zone', and encouraging them to feed off each other, get inside each other's skins, and generally feel like they are thinking as one. Finishing each other's sentences, 'in' jokes and behaviour like brothers (or sisters) is definitely to be encouraged.

If the competition is only one day, the intensity of this team bubble is less, but if competition is spread over a few days and the team are training, eating and sleeping all together, the extent and power of the team bubble is huge.

As a parent, this can be a bit disconcerting. Not only has your young athlete gone away from home, but they have stopped phoning/ texting and when you finally do get to grab a quick chat with them, they seem to be talking in a slightly different language, with lots of references to things that you know nothing about.

Don't despair, it's all good. And if I was you, I would avoid trying to contact them. Too much contact with parents, family and friends often disrupts the bubble a little bit and the coach will have to work harder to get things in balance again. In my view, the best policy is to be led by the coach as to how and when you can contact your child. They will be aware that parents will want to see children and vice versa, and they are likely to make time for it when it is least disruptive to competition preparation.

Turning up at their hotel/ training area unannounced is a huge no-no, and I would urge you not to do this. If you have genuine concerns about your child's well-being, always contact the coach to discuss this rather than going direct to your child. And perhaps ask yourself if it's your well-being that's actually in question, is it you that is missing them too much? I know it sounds harsh, but this is an area where you really can have a negative impact on the outcome of the competition.

Equally, when you get your child back after a big competition, whatever the outcome, they may seem a bit subdued. This is to be expected, the bubble has burst and their simple routine of eat, sleep, train, compete with their posse of soulmates is over. This takes some adjusting to. So give them a bit of time and you will soon get your child back. And they will be all the wiser and stronger for the amazing experience they have had, as will you.

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