Be the Inspiration: Mike Dawson
How is accuracy important in Canoe Slalom?
There are so many variables out on the course, so you have to be accurate. You have to be incredibly precise about where you put the boat and have to factor in the gradient of the platform and the differentiating currents.
Is there a certain mentality you need to have?
There are two approaches that people take with kayaking: - Either be incredibly planned and know every move you’re going to make out on the course - Or just “let go” and allow instinct and experience to take hold, and adjust to situations as they arise.
How do you become good at your sport?
You need to learn the technique, and be consistent enough that you know where to use the technique and when. In many ways it becomes second nature like driving a car. To achieve this level of accuracy through instinct you have to have learnt the technique and done lots of work. If you’re not instinctive out on the course, you can become a lot slower in your processes. I guess I almost treat it like an art form when I’m out on the course. I try to be instinctive and dynamic with the choices I make and how I react to situations.
How is it physically tough?
It can be difficult to keep being accurate when you get fatigued – especially when you’re relying on your instincts. Canoe Slalom is a hugely physical sport and takes a huge toll on your body. You’re body is telling you to stop or give up but your mind has to make the decisions. The harder training sessions are the better as you get used to being tired and still retain the ability to function instinctively at a high level. You effectively have to teach your body how to cope with things.
What about your mental toughness?
The mental state is hugely important when trying to be accurate. In canoe slalom most of the athletes have the same physical ability, the difference between the athletes comes from the mental state of the individual, and their ability to deliver what they’re capable of.