Game On

By Volker Nolte

Caversham, Great Britain, Gym, Athletes Stretching before training. Photo: Peter Spurrier

Cross-training is a fact of life this time of year. But those who feel they are missing out on valuable water time should reconsider their negative attitude. According to a recent German study, we should embrace the opportunity to participate in activities beyond the boat. For their paper, the researchers examined a large number of rowers and the factors that correlated best with success at a later stage of their career, including the age they started rowing; in which boat they first learned the sport; how intensively they focused on rowing; the specific boat type they had their greatest success in; and several other factors. Interestingly enough, the factor that had the greatest correlation to future success was the number of hours they spent in another sport before they came to rowing. So what does this tell us? That athletes who practice different sports experience many other motions, become versatile, learn balance, and have many more ways to develop their cognitive abilities. They also learn tactical behavior, expand their competitive drive, and don’t tire of the repetitive nature of a single-sport focus. Most important of all, they stay engaged in the sport longer and have a broader general base to draw from.