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Saying “I Do” – 5 Components of Team Commitment

Posted by Kristin Stickels on
Saying “I Do” – 5 Components of Team Commitment

Face it, being an active part of a dragon boat team requires a certain amount of commitment. Practices, gym time, races, committees, recruiting, fund raising. All of these things take time out of our regular lives. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love the sport so much. But at what point did you take vows to love, honor and cherish your team? We might not remember exactly when we got married to our team, but for the love of the sport most of us have said “I do” at one point or another.


Photo: Ed Nguyen

If you are new to the world of dragon boating, you are likely finding out that every ounce of your free time can be consumed with team or paddle-related activities, if you let it. Everyone finds his or her own level of engagement. For some, it is as an occasional recreational paddler, attending practices every once in a while. For others it is as a hard-core competitor, training both on and off the water nearly every day of the week. Some are merely involved. Others are solidly committed.

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We’ve all seen teammates come and go. For those who stay, what is it that keeps them? What do they have that keeps them coming back for more? Commitment.


Motivation makes it a goal, commitment makes it a reality. Tweet it!


So, what exactly is commitment? What does it look like? Here are the 5 main components of team commitment. Hopefully you recognize some of them.


1) Perseverance and Resiliency – Sticking with it no matter what. Not giving up. Ever. No matter what storm you’ve had to weather as a paddler or as a team, your ability to bounce back from adversity shows your true commitment. An injury, minor setback, disappointment, or even a split in the team; all are simply small bumps in the road to success.

Paddlechica Commitment


2) Sacrifice and Self-Discipline – Giving up junk food, waking up early on weekends, dedicating your free time to training, using your vacation days for paddling camps, sacrificing your “other” life for your paddling life. You are giving up things in the short term for a larger goal in the long term. It may not be enjoyable at the moment, but you have the capacity to envision the success in the future that will be created as a result of the sacrifices you’ve made. In addition, being able to evaluate what will be best for the team and selflessly devote yourself to its advancement demonstrates your sense of responsibility to the team.

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3) Complete Investment
– Buying in to your team’s vision and philosophy and sticking with it. You may not always agree 100% with everyone on your team, but having a commitment to the team means putting your whole effort, intensity and focus into it. The result of such an investment is a strong emotional attachment, enjoyable training and satisfaction with your results. This, in turn, creates a strong bond or connection to your teammates.

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4) Longstanding Obligation
– Understanding that you are a part of something bigger and working with the team to grow and improve. What will make the team stronger in the long run? Recruitment? Fund raising? Extra training time? How can you help? A large part of your commitment to the team is having the dedication to see past the here and now and aim for the future even when things seem bleak or uninspiring. It’s easy to join a team. Sticking with the team is a bigger step.

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5) Ongoing Learning
– Continuing to grow and evolve in the development of your abilities. Having a desire to improve not only for yourself but for the team as a whole shows your commitment to your team. But this doesn’t only apply to technique or paddling talents. How many of us have had to learn new roles within our team that have pushed us out of our comfort zone? Perhaps we’ve become a secretary at team meetings? Or an accountant? Or a web page designer? Or a photographer? Or even a steersman or coach? What pushes us to take on these new roles? An inseparable tie with the team. It all boils down to commitment.

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There is a delicate balance between commitment and motivation. Motivation is what gets us started. It is the passion that drives us. Commitment is what keeps us going. It is the fire that keeps our passion burning. If motivation wanes for one reason or another, commitment is what will get us back on track. And on the other hand, if commitment begins to fade our motivation can remind us of our goals. Motivation makes it a goal, commitment makes it a reality.

On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to your team?


Photo: Ed Nguyen


Kristin Stickels is a three-time Team USA member of the US National Dragon Boat Racing Team. She is the coach of the Miami team Puff, the Florida Tarpons women's team and the local Breast Cancer Survivors' Team (SOS).

She is also an avid outrigger canoe paddler and raced through the Panama Canal on a native cayuco boat from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


Found out more about Hornet paddles at 

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