Yesterday I spoke to Toni about performance environments, what they are and what defines them. The answer may disappoint some but central to excellence is repetition. Good old-fashioned practice. Practice that is reviewed, deconstructed, analysed and then used to fine-tune the next practice. Not quite so old fashioned then. However, to the untrained eye (read me) it can seem that an athlete is simply doing the same thing time and time and time again. No typo there.
Toni is a bit worried by this,
“There’s so much repetition. Isn’t it going to be a bit boring to read about?”
“I wasn’t worried about that before. Now you’ve mentioned it I am”.
“Basically it’s the same thing, week in week out”.
There’s a big hole opening up in front of my feet but I refuse to look into it. I draw breath, “It is but it isn’t. You don’t need to worry about that,” I begin to find my stride, “ The beauty is in the detail, the refinement, the rubbing out and re-writing of plans, the possibility of winning, the demands of performance…”
I’m just about hitting stride when Toni interrupts with a “Really?!”. It’s part question, part challenge, part mockery.
“Yes, really”. I sound less convincing now.
“You might be interested in this then”.
Toni uploads a video of Jess practicing the long jump. Watch it before you read on.
My first reaction is probably similar to yours, “What’s with the giant blue thingy?”
“Two things. First up we’re still working on refining the jump technique”.
“Picking up on the analysis from Ratingen?”
“Yes. It’s all about the fine detail. Jess drops her non-lead leg ever so slightly so I wanted to introduce a physical factor that enforces the discipline of re-aligning the legs”.
“Talk me through it”.
“When jumping the idea is to bring the jumping leg through and high so it’s together with the free leg, with your hands in the air.Your legs should then stay in a tucked position in front of you and as you get closer to the sand you extend your feet out and ahead so that your heels cut into the sand as far ahead of you as they can. Therefore you are maximising the distance jumped.
If you study the film a second time you’ll see that Jessica’s feet drop in down directly below her so she has the potential, through extension, to gain almost a shin length to her jump”.
‘And centimetres mean points?”
“Yes, three points per centimetre”.
“That can make a difference”.
“It can. The other reason I was using the barrier was that Jess also gets frustrated, at times, by constant repetition. Anyone can get bored, even an Olympic champ. I put the barrier in to change it up a bit and introduce a bit of challenge and stimulus to freshen up the session”.
“How did that part work out?”
“At first she looked at it and thought I was mad. She thought she’d damage herself. Then her competitive nature crept in and it turned into a great session”.
“See, I told you the detail wasn’t boring. You’re a boredom coach. Wait, does that sound wrong?”
“Write the blog”.