ATLANTA — The questions came to Scott Shipley from across the world.
Shipley, Poulsbo’s own Olympic kayaker, maintains his own web site (scottshipley.com) where he writes about his career and kayaking. As the 2000 Olympics approached, amateur kayakers deluged him with questions: what’s the best way to train? What workouts should I use? How do I progress from a beginning paddler to a speed-oriented racer?
So Shipley decided on a way to answer them.
“I said, ‘I’m going to write a book,’” Shipley said. “And I did.”
Shipley’s book, “Every Crushing Stroke: The Book of Performance Kayaking,” covers everything from workouts to technique.
It is available in Poulsbo at Central Market and Olympic Outfitters, and can be ordered through the official site of United States Canoe and Kayak organization, usack.org; or Shipley’s own web site, scottshipley.com.
“What I really wanted,” Shipley said, “was a book you could hand to a parent, a club coach, or a beginning athlete, and have them get better at our sport.”
Shipley worked on the book from before the Olympics until well after them. A phone call to a writer friend provided some advice, and Shipley worked on the chapters one at a time, some before the Olympics, some after.
“The style from before the Olympics was different than the style after it,” Shipley said. “The mood was different. I had to go back (to writing) and stir things up, make it the same.”
What came out was a book that provides a short biography that traces Shipley’s development through the sport; that provides tips on techniques; that shows 50 ways to train, physically and mentally, so that kayakers young and old won’t get bored with the sport.
“It’s like soccer practice,” Shipley said. If you have a good coach, you do something different every time. If you do the same thing over and over, you aren’t pushing yourself on an intellectual level. You’re staying in your comfort zone.”
Shipley said, “One of my messages is that you have to leave your comfort zone to succeed.”
While Shipley was writing the book, he was also attending to the not-so-minor matters of attending college (he is now a graduate student at Georgia Tech) and preparing for the most well-known athletic contest on the planet (he finished fifth in the 2000 Olympics). So “Every Crushing Stroke” was written during Every Waking Hour: “A lot of it, I’d pick up at midnight and go until 1:30 a.m., when I’d go to bed,” Shipley said.
About two months ago, he published the book himself. As a well-known kayaker, he is familiar with many of the equipment stores across the country. Marketing the book was not that difficult: “I’d call outdoor stores and say, ‘It’s me, do you want to buy a book?’” Shipley said.
For the most part, they did. Shipley was in Tennessee for the World Championships of kayaking. The events were cancelled due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but Shipley still passed out copies before leaving town. The results have been impressive: rush orders have arrived from England and Australia.
“And in America, it’s doing quite well,” Shipley said.
For now, he’s concentrating on earning a graduate degree from Georgia Tech. But he hope the book lives on, not only as a guide to technique, but as a memorial to a friend.
Shipley said the inspiration for the book came from a training partner, Rich Weiss, who drowned shortly after earning a silver medal at the World Chamionships.
“He was going to give back to the sport,” Shipley said. “I feel like that was a sad thing. We got an American on the medal stand, but all his knowledge disappeared. So this (writing the book) was inspired by that.”
And where did the title, “Every Crushing Stroke” come from?
Another kayaker, Shipley said.
Another kayaker named Brad Lewis, Shipley said, wrote a book about his experiences. Lewis was on the verge of getting kicked off the team, but re-dedicated himself, vowing that he would show the coach a “crushing” stroke. It is that dedicated that Shipley had, and wants to inspire in others.
“That personified what I felt I was doing every year,” Shipley said.