TEAMWORK: What does it really mean to Dragon Boaters?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, teamwork is defined as “the activity of working well together as a team.” The definition may sound as simple as it may seem, but what does it ‘really’ mean in the context of dragon boating?

We’ve asked a good mix of world and regional level paddlers and coaches of different age and racing classes, ranging from Premier (open age group), Senior A (40+), and U24 (Under 24’s) to define Teamwork in their own words.

Albeit unintentionally, we have given them a hard task of providing us with just one word or up to one sentence response only; and based on their actual experiences and involvement in the team sport of dragon boat, they shared their personal and honest-to-goodness definition.

Quite astonishingly, we have (re)discovered such beautiful and inspiring meanings to it. Let’s take inspiration from these athletes and coaches, on how they perceive, employ, utilise and value the importance of this rather not-so-simple compound word.

Alexandre Cheng

“Teamwork is collaboration between individuals whose result is greater than what the individuals can accomplish individually. Teamwork is beautiful.” – Alexandre Cheng, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Nutcharat Ying

“In my experience, the meaning of team work means we trust in ourselves, we trust in our team and we believe we can do it.” – Nutcharat Ying, Thailand Dragon Boat Team

Allan Nguyen

“Teamwork is sacrificing and compromising for others to achieve a common goal.” – Allan Nguyen, USA National Team

Manuel Maya

“It’s hard for me to define it in just one word. Teamwork is unity, harmony, trust in your own ability and the individual abilities of each team member. Hindi mananalo ang team kung wala tiwala sa sarili at sa teammates. Kahit ang pinakamahinang member ng team napakahalaga nila.” (The team can never win if members don’t have trust on themselves and their teammates. Even the weakest member of the team is very important.) – Manuel Maya, Philippine Dragon Boat Team/Coach

Shanice Ng

“One word: Camaraderie.” – Shanice Ng, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Francis Lucas Dragon Boat

“Teamwork to me is putting yourself second and putting your teammates first. To trust them to achieve a common goal.” – Francis Lucas, Canadian National Team

Dennis Wright

Teamwork in the dragon boat sense is: The cooperation of all boating members to dissolve individual egos in order to become a single body that is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Dennis Wright, Auroras – Australian Dragon Boat Team

Curtis Guinn

“To me, teamwork is the whole group coming together for the same goal. But it’s not just the people you see out front; it’s all of the people playing different parts behind the scenes that aren’t noticed right away. It’s in knowing that in your heart that you may not be where the team needs you to be and be willing to step back for someone else but still being ready to go when the group needs you. It’s everyone back home pushing this core group to be better everyday even if they aren’t a part of it themselves.” – Curtis Guinn, USA National Team

Rhowie Enriquez

“Teamwork is working together in any activity for the benefit and progress of the team.” – Rhowie Enriquez, Philippine Dragon Boat Team

 Jonathan Navarro

“I define teamwork as the complete and total summation of actions and decisions made by the members of a team–collectively and individually that contribute towards achieving a specific goal.” – Jonathan Navarro, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Moonkasem Pranchalee Dragon Boat

“My own personal definition of teamwork means that the team which comes from love and harmony, while helping each other and do the things that you get assigned.” Moonkasem Pranchalee, Thailand Dragon Boat Team

Loh Zhiying

“Teamwork = commitment + intensive training + a common goal (shared among the team).” Loh Zhiying, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Melanie Marquez Dragon Boat

“Teamwork is when everyone works together, but it starts when everyone makes a personal commitment towards the team’s goal.” – Melanie Marquez, Canadian National Dragon Boat Team

Ben Dal Broi

“My experience of teamwork in Dragon Boats? Simple… Just shut up and do what the sweep tells you.” Ben Dal Broi – Australian Dragon Boat Team

Amihan Zapanta Arroyo Dragon Boat

“Teamwork for me, especially as a dragon boater, would have to be about the unification of a people for a common goal. And you don’t see that illustrated more purely than in dragon boat, because in order to cross the finish line you truly need each and every person.” – Amihan Zapanta Arroyo, USA National Team

Harland Baraquero

“Teamwork is the navigator and it’s the beauty of dragon boat.” Harland Baraquero, Former Philippine Dragon Boat Team/Coach

Raymond Kiang

“Being in a team sport, the most essential factor is to have everyone steered towards the same goal–goals which include a spectrum of macro to micro goals. Definitely there will be differences in opinion and it is important to have everyone on the same page. Teamwork is also self accountability to the team where you try your best to contribute to the bigger picture. In an individual sport, you can afford to plan your own schedule or make up for training yourself but this is not possible in a team sport.” – Raymond Kiang, Singapore Dragon Boat Team

Damaris Claudio Dragon Boat

“Teamwork is when all team members collaborate giving the best of their performance to achieve the goal and together celebrate the work done.” – Damaris Claudio, Puerto Rico Dragon Boat Team

Riza Canonoy

“Unity and teamwork is important especially in a team because without it you will not achieve your goal. For example, when our team is focused on a certain programme today, it requires everyone to be united in following and doing it; when others did not perform well, we need to do it again and again until we have perfected it.” – Riza Canonoy, National Athlete – Philippine National Dragon Boat Team

Tek Li

“Teamwork is being vulnerable together, trusting one another. Trusting one another to enhance your strengths and to support your weaknesses. Teamwork is being humble if you think you know it already. Teamwork is being courageous to ask questions if you don’t know it.” – Tek Li, USA National Team


In any dragon boat team, there are several factors that need to be considered and developed to ensure the team’s success, some of the key ones are: the attitude of members when it comes to cooperation; the amount (and sincerity) of commitment; learning levels and learning skills of members, the interpersonal relationship within the team, and, of course, leadership.

While you consider these facets and take tips and lessons from our featured athletes, even though each of us may have our own brilliant definition of what teamwork means, the right formula for a successful teamwork can only be defined and be understood by your team and your team alone.

Photo Credits: Respondents’ own, Ed Nguyen Photography, Michael Daniel Photography, JhanPhilipCo Photography, T & M Photography, Under Armour


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25 Things Only Dragon Boaters Understand

In the sport of Dragon Boat, there are several factors that teams consider when the training season begins: form, reach, synchronicity, endurance, and a whole lot more besides. It depends on the Coach’s approach or what the training managers have designed for the crew.

Dragon boat is a very tough sport, let alone the training hours. There’s water training (actual paddling), land or circuit training, and some do have pool paddle training. Oftentimes, a dragon boater’s week can be quite full (especially in prepping for races).

If you are weak, inactive, faint-hearted, or sluggish, then it may not be the right sport for you; or, on the contrary, it may be the sport that will alter your lethargy. In short, it’s a sport for everybody. It’s a sport where you will be trained to be physically and mentally tough and then become as tough like everyone in the team.

Dragon boat Festival

Furthermore to being tough (in both mind and body), and an even tougher preparation to win races, there are things that only we dragon boaters can relate to and understand. 

1. “Is dragon boat really that hard?”; “Is the boat stable?”; “Is there an alotted time to rest?” These are a few of the most common questions asked by people whom you’ve told you’re a dragon boater. We’d usually explain: “With the right amount of training and perseverance, it can’t be that hard.Their reaction:I might die in the middle of it!

Speed Boat gif

2. You become very competitive that you tend to be as quiet and focused as you can in the marshalling area. (This is where teams are being checked before being despatched to the boats.) Unknowingly, you may have employed this competitiveness in everything that you do now. Good for you!

Shut Up gif

3. You’ve imagined doing cross country paddling with your team using the dragon boat. Sure, why not?

Speed boat fast

4. Calluses and blisters on your palm, and, yes, in your asses, too. Ouch! You may want to grab a roll of athletic tape to cover the blister or to protect yourself from getting one. As for the other target of dragon boater’s blister (if we may neologise), you may need a team mate’s help to put on an adhesive film on that blister back there.

Wound palm gif

5. Some training days are just too early for you.

Getting Up Early gif

6. Your other arm is much stronger than the other. Not necessarily bigger, but definitely stronger. You’ll notice it when you lift something heavy. Things are so much lighter when you use your paddling arm.

Muscles

7. You execute that first explosive stroke during starts with an imaginary paddle; at any time of the day and anywhere you may be. Sometimes you do that quick twist of your shoulder on the train, in the bus, in bed, in the grocery store, or on your way to the office. Then you do it again on your way out of the office or school.

Arm Sway

8. You are haunted by the sound of the AIR HORN. If it’s any consolation, it keeps you alert.

Air Horn

9. Why dragon boaters carry this loaf-like or sponge-like rubber-y thing with them? (While in a sitting position, there’s repeated friction and pressure as they paddle; these seat pads protect the paddler’s backside from getting a blister or scrape.)

Twerk Spongebob

10. Others may wonder: “Is that a bullet proof vest?” Be proud in sporting your personal floatation device (PFD). It will save your life.

Bullet Proof Vest

11. Most often, you have bigger and toner arms than your friends, colleagues or classmates. Only you know that in dragon boat, it’s not just about having massive arms; it’s about the perfection of form and proper breathing technique. In this sport discipline, it’s essential to have power and muscle endurance of the legs, core, arms and shoulders.

Muscles Woman

12. Synchronicity is beauty.

Synchonicity gif

13. Your favourite training shorts have scratches on the fabric at the rear. It’s the rubbing and the “twerking” movement you do in the boat. Also, you think that it doesn’t hurt to have a bright, colourful and creatively designed jersey. Think Synchronised Swimming at the Olympics.

Synchronised 2

14. Paddling offbeat. It happens when one’s timing is offbeat from the “chords” being played during the race or training. If somebody is desynchronizing in front of you, it tends to break the chain of timing up to the last pair. Be alert! Timing is key.

Off timing gif

15. When you see photos of you taken during the race and there’s only the two of you who’s not in synchrony. Well, we all get those. Do better. Perform like it’s being filmed all the time.

Synchronicity

16. You know that sometimes, the dragon boat can either be “left heavy” or “right heavy.” The dragon boat is not a seesaw so this occurrence may slow down the glide of the boat. The solution: A skillful steersperson/helmsman must lean against the heavier side to retain the boat’s balance.

Leaning Tower

17. You have nightmares about doing the “STARTS!” You wanna give your first three to ten strokes, your most solid ever.

Trumpet

18. When your boat capsizes, do not panic. Stop struggling; you’ll float. Dragon boats are designed to float for a time, so keep your focus and look for your buddy (boat partner) and wait for the safety boat to come to you.

Capsize gif

19. The rotator cuff injury. Not only tennis players have this, it is quite common among dragon boaters as well. It varies on how severe the tear on one or more of your rotator cuff tendons. Better see a sports doctor or go to an Osteopath quick! For starters, avoid the affected/painful side when you lie down in bed.

Massage Cat

20. When your team makes it to the Repechage Heat as you’ve been proclaimed, “The Fastest Loser.”

Repechage gif

21. When your team qualifies to the Semi-Finals Heat and it’s back-to-back races for you in several categories. It’s your eighth race of the day, but you’ve got to do it.

Back to back races

22. You’re in a state of shock after losing the heat for only a matter of milliseconds.

What the hell gif

23. That moment of fear (or intimidation) and there’s deafening silence at the starting line.

Intimidation

24. That feeling when, upon reaching the finish line, your abdominal muscles feel so tight, it’s so hard to breathe. Aaaaaaaaah! You’re catching your breath so hard that you can’t even respond to your team cheer.

Tired

25. That moment when you’re paddling ahead of the other boats and you feel like flying, and you scream to victory as you cross the finish line. You also scream in your head things like: “I’m awesome!”, “My team is awesome!”, “I love my LIFE!”

Being a Dragon Boater

Do you remember how it felt like when you got your first dragon boat medal?

dragon boatdragon boat

 GIFs:  Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr, Medals – Charlon de Leon Mataga

 

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