5 Things Whitewater Kayaking Will Teach You

5 Things Whitewater Kayaking Will Teach You

Why and how one of the world's lesser known sports can change someone's life.

443
views

Ask anyone who's ever played a sport, "what did you learn from it?" They may include some intricacies pertaining to their sport alone, but more likely will shower you with life lessons which transcend the game itself-- kayaking is no different. The thing is, when it comes to baseball, football, etc. these lessons mean a difference in the win column. On the river, it can mean the difference between life and death.

1. Be humble

Swanny Evans

Whitewater will humble you, period. After a handful of successful kayaking trips, it's easy to become overly confident and take on a river that may be beyond one's ability given their skills and level of experience-- results can range from embarrassing to downright horrifying (I've been there), and may even bring about serious injury or death in the worst of cases. Particularly in today's social media climate, when it's impossible to log on to Instagram, facebook, youtube, etc. without seeing pictures or video of someone better than you (and I think this holds true beyond kayaking or sport in general), the urge to keep "charging" and constantly run bigger and badder whitewater is stronger than ever. Naturally, this all too frequently manifests in people learning modesty the hard way. Any kayaker will attest to this: just when you start to think you're better than someone, the river will bring you back down to earth, and it doesn't take class 5. Whitewater kayaking has an incredibly impactful way of humbling you-- a way that other sports just can't.

2. Learn from your failures

Larry Meisner

You often hear people say "trust the process", or "the path to success isn't a straight line", and I've learned that lesson a number of times throughout my experiences in whitewater kayaking. The element of said path to success that I find most vital (and ironically, most undervalued) is one's ability to grow from their failures. Failure on the river comes in all shapes and sizes. Missing a roll and swimming, messing up that trick you were trying to throw, blowing by an eddy, or even simply forgetting a piece of equipment-- these are all failures that I and many boaters out there have experienced, and we will likely continue to do so. Whether it's frustrating, laughable, dangerous, or whatever the case may be, it's important that even your most negligible screw-ups are taken in stride and used to your advantage. It's all a part of the process.

3. Be honest

Jack Frostad

Honesty can save your life. I've been in a few less than ideal situations on the river, but one really haunts me. Deep down, I knew I probably wasn't cut out for the river that day; however, I didn't tell my friends that. More importantly, I didn't tell myself that. I told myself I was good for this difficult section at high water, but I was scared. Not just a little scared, either-- that's natural. I was scared for my life. My decision not to take a step back and really be honest with myself and my crew had consequences. That day, the river pushed me around. I flipped a handful of times, and barely rolled back up in some places where a swim could've had dire repercussions. I put myself and those around me in a dangerous position, all because I wasn't honest with myself from the start. Fortunately, lessons like these don't always come in such dramatic fashion, but they sure do stay with you and exhibit themselves in sport and beyond.

4. Appreciate those around you

Larry Meisner

Possibly my favorite thing about whitewater kayaking is the community. Some of my best friends have been made on the river, and the reason is simple. When you paddle with someone, you're putting your safety in their hands just as they're putting their safety in yours. Of course, ability matters and it is ultimately your own job to use sound judgment in order to maintain your safety on the river; with that being said, water is an unpredictable force. Rescue scenarios may not always seem likely, but they happen, and often when you'd least expect them. There's a level of trust, appreciation, and teamwork necessary for a successful day on the river, and when you experience these things in such an intense way, it's only natural that the ability and willingness to express them in your everyday relationships increases exponentially.

5. Have fun

Joseph Eaton

Kayaking is a lot like life, but more intense. You'll win some, you'll lose some, you'll get scared, you'll get excited, you'll be surprised, you'll be amazed, you'll get frustrated, you'll be awe-struck. Why is it that we do the things we do? In 99% of the instances I can think of, humans' underlying motivation for doing just about anything is to have fun. Why do students spend hours in the library studying for tests? So they can get an education, acquire a job, and make money so that they can have fun. Why do we strap ourselves into small plastic boats and paddle ourselves down rapids, waterfalls and the like? If you're doing it for the right reasons, it's because you're having fun. I was kayaking in North Georgia with a group of friends not too long ago, and one of them said something that has stuck with me ever since-- "Even if you swim, you're swimming in a beautiful river in a beautiful place. I do that for fun when I'm not kayaking". While there's certainly rivers where swimming could mean big consequences and this thought process may need to be "adapted" per se, there's no doubt in my mind he has a blast each and every time he gets in his boat, and there's something to be said for that.

Popular Right Now

To The Coach Who Took Away My Confidence

You had me playing in fear.
256544
views
"The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure."

As a coach, you have a wide variety of players. You have your slow players, your fast players. You have the ones that are good at defense. You have the ones that are good at offense. You have the ones who would choose to drive and dish and you have the ones that would rather shoot the three. You have the people who set up the plays and you have the people who finish them. You are in charge of getting these types of players to work together and get the job done.

Sure, a coach can put together a pretty set of plays. A coach can scream their head off in a game and try and get their players motivated. A coach can make you run for punishment, or they can make you run to get more in shape. The most important role of a coach, however, is to make the players on their team better. To hopefully help them to reach their fullest potential. Players do make mistakes, but it is from those mistakes that you learn and grow.

To the coach the destroyed my confidence,

You wanted to win, and there was nothing wrong with that. I saw it in your eyes if I made a mistake, you were not too happy, which is normal for a coach. Turnovers happen. Players miss shots. Sometimes the girl you are defending gets past you. Sometimes your serve is not in bounds. Sometimes someone beats you in a race. Sometimes things happen. Players make mistakes. It is when you have players scared to move that more mistakes happen.

I came on to your team very confident in the way that I played the game. Confident, but not cocky. I knew my role on the team and I knew that there were things that I could improve on, but overall, I was an asset that could've been made into an extremely great player.

You paid attention to the weaknesses that I had as a player, and you let me know about them every time I stepped onto the court. You wanted to turn me into a player I was not. I am fast, so let me fly. You didn't want that. You wanted me to be slow. I knew my role wasn't to drain threes. My role on the team was to get steals. My role was to draw the defense and pass. You got mad when I drove instead of shot. You wanted me to walk instead of run. You wanted me to become a player that I simply wasn't. You took away my strengths and got mad at me when I wasn't always successful with my weaknesses.

You did a lot more than just take away my strengths and force me to focus on my weaknesses. You took away my love for the game. You took away the freedom of just playing and being confident. I went from being a player that would take risks. I went from being a player that was not afraid to fail. Suddenly, I turned into a player that questioned every single move that I made. I questioned everything that I did. Every practice and game was a battle between my heart and my head. My heart would tell me to go to for it. My heart before every game would tell me to just not listen and be the player that I used to be. Something in my head stopped me every time. I started wondering, "What if I mess up?" and that's when my confidence completely disappeared.

Because of you, I was afraid to fail.

You took away my freedom of playing a game that I once loved. You took away the relaxation of going out and playing hard. Instead, I played in fear. You took away me looking forward to go to my games. I was now scared of messing up. I was sad because I knew that I was not playing to my fullest potential. I felt as if I was going backward and instead of trying to help me, you seemed to just drag me down. I'd walk up to shoot, thinking in my head, "What happens if I miss?" I would have an open lane and know that you'd yell at me if I took it, so I just wouldn't do it.

SEE ALSO: The Coach That Killed My Passion

The fight to get my confidence back was a tough one. It was something I wish I never would've had to do. Instead of becoming the best player that I could've been, I now had to fight to become the player that I used to be. You took away my freedom of playing a game that I loved. You took away my good memories in a basketball uniform, which is something I can never get back. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but without confidence, you won't go very far.

Cover Image Credit: Christina Silies

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Andy Ruiz Jr. May Not Look Like The Typical Boxer, But It Doesn't Make His Victory Any Less Deserved

Andy Ruiz Jr. just proved that dreams can come true.

623
views

On June 1, boxing fans witnessed something special as Andy 'Destroyer' Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua via TKO after going seven rounds in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world. Ruiz Jr. (33-1) was a heavy underdog (+1100) heading into the match-up with Joshua (22-1) but ultimately flipped the script to hand the British fighter his first professional loss ever. Surely the fight will go down as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Some members of the media and fans have been quick to label the fight as a 'fluke' and 'rigged' which in the end is no surprise to me. That always happens in the sports world. Many did not believe we would get this result yet failed to remember the one rule of sports -- expect the unexpected. Over the past week, I've been coming to the defense of Ruiz Jr. in the wake of others choosing to call him a joke.

I was shocked and surprised to hear two of my favorite sports analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, make fun of Ruiz Jr. and frame him as just a guy that looked like 'Butterbean.' When I viewed their tweets on social media it honestly made me upset. Sure, Ruiz Jr. may not have fit the mold of what a professional boxer should look like, but they simply should not have just judged a book by its cover.

Personally, I thought it was disrespectful for Smith and Sharpe to throw shade at Ruiz Jr. in the way they did. I felt like they should have done a better job of acknowledging the winner considering the result of the match. Yet choosing to bash someone because of their physical composition appeared like a low blow. The very foundation of sports allows people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds to compete -- that's why most people follow them in the first place.

Smith was open behind his reasoning for his tweets in which I'd like to shed some light on. Smith was upset about how boxing time after time contains elements of corruption with fans having to wait years until promoters schedule big fights. He along with other followers of the sport were looking forward to the highly anticipated yet potential future match-up between Joshua and fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Smith believes that by Ruiz Jr. beating Joshua it essentially diminished the chances of that fight ever happening with the same amount of buildup, but that still doesn't provide any excuse for mocking the new heavyweight champ.

Ruiz Jr. was there for a reason and ultimately seized the opportunity that was right in front of him -- that's not his fault for getting the job done. Just because someone doesn't look like the part doesn't mean they don't possess the same qualities and characteristics as their counterparts. The following pair of videos display the amount of talent Ruiz Jr. does have in the ring. Even fellow boxer Canelo Alvarez and former UFC lightweight/featherweight champion Conor McGregor acknowledge that and have come out to say something on their behalf.

Unfortunately, I don't expect much to change because most will stand their ground and continue to behave the same way. All I'm saying is I did not enjoy some of the top figures within sports media stereotyping Ruiz Jr. based on his looks. I would think that we would be better than that and recognize that anyone can accomplish something great in this world. It all just starts with a simple dream.

I understand and respect other people's takes on this subject, maybe I'm looking into things deeper than what they are, but it struck a chord with me and I felt the need to say something about it.

Related Content

Facebook Comments