Having spent the last 25 years or so coaching athletes, one of the biggest changes and challenges has been the increased use of video. It became apparent right away to most that with video, there was no more “I think this is what happened” or “this is what I remember doing”. The very best at every level and every sport use video review along with a coach (or two or six) in order to truly understand both the sport they play and how they play it. Bass fishing is a little late to that party. Mostly because of the limitations of video and being in a boat out on the water, it has been difficult to make video review happen. Today, most of those barriers are removed, but we are still mostly limited by our minds and our imaginations.
A guy like Michael Vick has stated publicly that he did not take film study and preparation seriously early in his career. Then there are players like Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis and Larry Fitzgerald who devour film work and take their God-given talent to a different stratosphere.
Let me make the case that there are more similarities than differences between coaching bass fisherman and coaching athletes. I’m going to also make the case that no matter what your current talent level and successes as an angler, there is a different “stratosphere” for bass anglers to raise their game to. Let’s look at the common areas of competition and how video review is being used.
Conventional athletes are not the only ones who make the wrong movements or make wasted movements. It’s possible to see these same mistakes with anglers. Take flipping and pitching for example. Just because you are doing it or “know how” doesn’t mean your are efficient at it and that you can do it in a way that you don’t wear yourself out doing it.
A bass angler’s field of play is one of the biggest challenges they have. Being able to look at how anglers position themselves on that field of play is crucial to understanding success. In fishing, everything from the yard markers to the end zone is not apparent to the eye. We have to use others things to reference where we are on the “field”. Easily the least talked about in relation to it’s importance is the topic of positioning when it comes to bass fishing. I recently talked to a buddy of mine who drew a well known angler for a Federation Nation event and told me how impressed he was with the way this guy was able to position the boat to maximize every cast.
Tournament bass fishing is about time management. It’s not about catching numbers or even the biggest, it’s about catching the biggest 5 bass in the time allowed. Just like a basketball team may be able to execute the perfect play, if they can’t do it against another team in the time allowed (shot clock), then it doesn’t matter. If a bass angler takes two days to catch a limit but the tournament lasts only one day, well then, we have a problem. More subtly, if you spend hours fishing for a bass that is not catchable, you don’t get to come to weigh in and weigh the one you saw or wished you would have caught.
We all look good and feel good when the shots are falling or we have our best fastball that day. What about when things don’t go so well or we aren’t feeling our best? Just like you can see other athletes when they loose their confidence and will to fight, you can see it in a bass angler when they get spun out or are loosing confidence in their decisions. Sometimes being able to see yourself getting spun out and making unnecessary moves will help you make better adjustments the next time.
Working with Teammates
No sports are the work of the individual alone. Even in golf, the role of the caddy or swing coach is critical. In bass fishing, in a team event for example, it matters a great deal how the two anglers work together when it comes to the most efficient use of equipment and working the cover/structure available. Being able to use different baits in different locations is important but those things need to be communicated and not just assumed.
A great deal of film study is used to study the opponent. I don’t have to play against them to study their habits, their strengths and their weaknesses. In bass fishing, I don’t have to be actively fishing for bass to study how they behave, where they live and how they react to their environment, including other anglers. In bass fishing, the opponent is the bass, not the other anglers.
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