I first heard this phrase a long time ago and can still remember thinking, yeah that makes so much sense! However, as you move through coaching and pick up a million new cues and phrases, some drift away from you. I was scrolling through Instagram yesterday and came across a cannon sitting in a sinking canoe! Of course, the caption below was to match. Strangely enough, it brought back a whole load of memories of first hearing it. The reason I’m saying this is while I have grown and developed as a coach (I hope!), the message behind this phrase have rung true throughout. When it comes to sports performance, you well and truly cannot fire a cannon from a canoe.


What Does it Actually Mean?

I guess, like with most things in sports performance, it depends! It will depend on the situation you are using it in and will, of course, depend on the coach’s interpretation. So, I am going to give my broad thoughts on what it means and why I like it so much.

All of the exciting exercises that you see people doing on Instagram showcase outstanding athleticism and sell themselves as “the next best way” to get faster or more explosive or “reach the next level”. However, you can think of these exercises and demonstrations on athleticism as cannons. They are explosive, they are impressive, and they are powerful. Now look at the human that is expressing these movements, they are the vessel capable of housing these cannons!


Be a Warship in Sports Performance

My point is this. In order to house, transport and utilise these powerful canons, you need to be a strong, stable, robust warship. You need the strength to hold your position, to allow such large forces to be used. The need the stability to not shake, rattle and roll every time you fire a canon. You need to be solid and robust enough to not break or need a 5 minute rest every time you fire a canon.

What this means, is that you need to take the time to build up your foundations and set a solid platform from which to work from. This means doing the basics unbelievably well, doing the simple things that may not be so “exciting” but will allow you to express power without breaking. Sports Performance often presents itself as the glittery fairy dust you see when Ronaldo seemingly hangs in the air for an age, 3 foot higher than anyone else. In reality, sports performance is how strong and stable they are, in order to produce these feats over and over without fail.