From Volleyball to Basketball to Paddling


The top paddlers are people just like you and me, except they are completely focused on their goals and have a specific plan to get there. For Genna Flinkman with Team Infinity Canada, this includes leaving home in the winter to train for six weeks in California. Training is going well although there have not been many waves and her shoulder has been acting up. Flinkman injured her shoulder and practically everything else playing college basketball. Recently she partially dislocated  her shoulder playing goalie with her competitive women’s hockey team. Flinkman is learning to take it easy, giving her shoulder a break by introducing longboarding and mountain biking to her training regimen.

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Creating balance

I asked Genna Flinkman how she finds balance. She immediately answered that she has a helpful husband. He works 10 days on and 10 days off. When he is home, he helps a lot. Flinkman has always been a busy person. It helps her use her time effectively and set priorities. She is good at scheduling and plans far in advance. Make a timeline, say a month and a half in the winter, and stick to it. Just train. At home in Alberta it is still winter. Everything is frozen and Flinkman won’t be able to paddle until the end of May.

Flinkman is doing well with her recovery and really listens to her body. Her degree in kinesiology and psychology make her so much more aware of what her body needs. “Sometimes you just need a down day and go into a Netflix coma,”she told me with a slight chuckle. After the Pacific Paddle Games each fall she takes one month off, no exercise, and allows herself to fully recover. She then gets back to ice hockey about 3-4 times a week and snowboarding. In the winter she takes two months off from paddling. “Mentally you get so tired of training. In California it’s hard because it is eternal summer,” Flinkman told me.

Genna Flinkman – Goals For This Season

Redemption – this season Genna Flinkman wants redemption in the sprints at ISA. Last year she was in medal position, second or third, before she wobbled and fell in. This season she wants to medal. 2017 was a year of growth. Her 2017 goals were to be in the top 15 for ISA and PPG. For 2018, she wants to be in the top 10. Last year she trained so much and was worn down. Now she wants to enjoy the experience, focusing on improving her skills to see the next jump. She is looking at her skills critically. What needs to be broken down? Where are her strengths and where are her weaknesses? Flinkman’s long term aspirations include representing Canada at the Pan Am Games and considers 2018 a stepping stone towards that goal.

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Genna Flinkman (far right) and the Infinity Speed Freeks.

Art and creativity

Photography was something fun Genna Flinkman got into to promote herself as an athlete. She does portrait work, couples, and friends’ weddings. Flinkman has had her photography business for a few years and enjoys watching her customers’ kids grow up and capturing the moments in her photography. It’s a lot of fun. Flinkman also has a blast traveling with the Infinity crew as Dave Boehne always creates an opportunity to take a lot of photographs!

The pace of working as a photographer resembles SUP racing. It is a lot of fun, but can also get tiring. When it does, then it is time to change things up. Flinkman had a blast taking mountain biking pictures recently. It is completely different from shooting portraits. The pictures are for her, just having fun and goofing around.

Tips for Best Performance

Genna Flinkman uses self-talk to help her when racing or on a shoot. Before a race or a shoot, she puts things into perspective by asking questions like, “How is this going to affect my life?” Say for example she fell a bunch of times. Is everyone going to stare at her? Are her sponsors going to drop her? Is her family still going to love her? She breaks things down to the worst case scenario and remembers not to put so much pressure on herself.

Awareness is key. Be aware of how you are reacting. If she is tensing up or breathing heavy, she stands up to make a reset in her brain. If she’s freaking out, she thinks about what she can do and then focuses on what she can fix. Find the way to calm down. Flinkman’s high school volleyball coach taught her a powerful technique that she uses for SUP racing. Build on your confidence. As you go into a race, first focus on a smooth start. Then get onto someone’s tail. Next pick up the intensity. Take it one step at a time. If something goes wrong, don’t get worked up just hit the reset button and start over.

Thanks for sharing the great advice and best of luck for this season Genna! 

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Audrey Lee

Audrey Lee is a performance coach, sport nutrition coach, group exercise instructor, Paddle Into Fitness Master Trainer, WPA certified SUP yoga instructor, and 200 hour certified YA yoga instructor. She has her PhD in Exercise Sport Science and her Master’s degree in nutrition. Her passion is integrating the mind-body connection into her coaching to help people find balance and reach their highest potential. She lives in Park City, Utah and loves the outdoors, playing in the mountains or on water.