Olympic Team Spirit!

Robin van den Heuvel, Bear Hug Poker MTT Coach

I like sports; competing to be more specific. As a little boy I got the kick early from doing well in chess, belonging to the top 20 of the Netherlands until I was 12 years old.At the age of 14 I stopped competing in chess, as I realized being a Chess Master didn’t impress my close friends or any girls, and you value some things more importantly during puberty. Also I had to stay up late playing in competitions with older men up to the age of 60 to have any chance.I continued playing handball, which I was doing from an early age as well. I was doing very well, playing in regional teams and was selected for the Dutch youth team. At the age of 19 was playing premier league in Holland, so I think I can safely state I have some talent in competing.

So hello, where is this going to?!

Don’t worry; I’m not going to continue talking about how good I was in things! However I think this is one of the reasons I really like to watch sports and to follow the competition. I really have a feeling that I can sympathize with the things these sportsmen go through. I also have a good understanding of what can make or break a sportsman and what can let them excel in their performance.

Although I don’t have much affinity with the Winter Olympics, I was interested to see how the Dutch speed skaters would perform. I knew we had some talent and it was predicted that we would take some medals home. All eyes were on Sven Kramer particularly. Last Olympics he missed a golden medal on the 10k, due to an error in signaling by his coach.

What happened next was above my expectation. The Dutch totally dominated the speed skating and crushed the competition. We took home 24 medals, 23 in speed skating and 1 in short track.  For the guys who don’t know what short track skating is, it is something like a multi table hyper turbo 4 max qualifier, where there are 2 tickets to go to the next round till you reach the final and with a lot of bad beats involved. Oh boy how many falling accidents did I see in the qualifiers!

I was very pleased with this “Orange” domination, although I would prefer a World Cup win in soccer personally. No worries, the World Cup is this year!

So what is the secret of this success, what made the Dutch camp perform so well?

As a coach I was looking for answers to this question. I have been watching a lot of interviews with the coaches, players and been watching all kind of footage about this Olympics on Dutch TV.

I saw three different coaches and I saw all kind of skater personalities. I saw footage of them training together, women and men mixed in the training campus. They are all talented individuals in their own manner, but what was very notable was the very good vibe going on in the camp. The atmosphere was very good, they all talked with respect about each other, but at the same time everyone had the winning spirit and believed he was able to make it rain on the Olympics.

While I was running 10k the other day I got lost in thoughts and really started to see similarities between the Dutch speed skating group and our Bear Hug Poker MTT Group. We are a group of talented individuals with unique skills and personalities. We don’t compete for each other, but still we have a bond. We are privileged, just like the speed skating team, to train and talk strategy with each other. We can go to anyone with our questions; we can measure our performances and thinking processes with other players. We can learn a lot of things from each other and we still have respect for each other. We all know what it is to be a diehard poker player.

I am confident having multiple talented people together with the right mindset can make things happen. When we can keep the great vibe going and having a good positive winner’s atmosphere we can dominate. Even the best will get to a higher level in such an environment.

On the other hand I even saw things going dramatically wrong in other speed skating camps. The Americans were blaming performance on their suits and the Nordics pulled themselves out of the 10k, saying they had no chance for a medal. It turned out the Dutch were not even performing that well on that distance and a bronze medal was definitely in reach for the Nordics. The vibe and atmosphere in these camps were definitely different form the one in the Dutch camp.

So keep this in mind and be aware of the unique position we are in and all that is possible to reach while being in such a position. Embrace our team, make a contribution and great things will happen.

A big bear hug from your MTT coach,

Robin van den Heuvel

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