Austria Trainingscamp Journal 2008


USOEC athlete Beth Johnson & Austria National Team Coach Bruno Hartmann at climbing wall in Austria 2008

Monday, December 22
The USOEC freestyle contingent is now preparing to leave Austria for the States as a I write this last entry 3 days before Christmas 2008.

Actually, many of them (USOEC team) are packing, talking, eating, and playing mafia. The last day in Austria winds down in the relaxing atmosphere of socializing and chatting with folks whom we may see perhaps again.

The day started with a light training session in the wrestling room followed up by sight seeing, shopping, and eating at a mountain top. Typically as camps or mesocyles wind down, training tends to taper or become less. This is important because the body is tired and fatigued usually if the coaches have been trained in periodization and are using principles of specificity and training loads that vary from day to day.

Athletes also need time to unwind after intense training weeks and this is where optimal rest and recovery will aid bodies and minds for future bouts of work. Once the mind is stimulated by shopping, sight seeing, and eating at the top of a mountain, it appears to rest and recover which also will help training in the weeks to come.

In our case, the athletes are excited to go home and are having fun at the same time. This optimal training envirnoment (fun, exciting training camp) is the main purpose of training camps according to Johannas who coaches the junior and senior male teams at Ringsport Austria.

Johannas went on to say it is much easier for his athletes to become internally motivated to train when athletes from different countries are the training partners. Training camps are expensive and usually his teams train in 2 nationally per year at Ringsport Austria and 2 internationally per year.

Sara from Sweden also mentioned international training camps as a part of her normal training and competition schedule. In her case, her coaches and federation plan her events. Sweden is a force in female wrestling by design as many of the clubs in this country send their athletes to international training camps to serve as teachers and guides for the younger athletes.

Quickly, Europe’s landscape or closeness of countries is similar to USA’s actual States proximity. In other words, the individual States in the USA are as close to one another as most European nations when one travels. Written another way, one can travel 3 hours in Europe and be in 4-5 different countries.

The last paragraph alludes to why many European athletes are well traveled and may speak many different languages. Everyone that I spoke to at this camp spoke more than 1 language (and in some cases 3-4) if they were from Europe.

I’ve been to Europe before and there are lots of ruins when you travel. This time, I saw very many castles, which were around during the 1500’s. Also what is unique, perhaps if you compare this place to the States, is the amount of very narrow streets and alleys.

Even on the mountains, there were very many narrow roads. Actually, one mountain traveled on a solo nature walk by yours truly, had about the same width in un-paved road size as the paved road. Mountains are fun to see and view because they are older than all can imagine and are nature’s ruins.

This trip was great because the athletes trained and learned from some of the best athletes and coaches in the world and explored Austria while having fun at the same time.

Pictures, pictures, pictures:

Wednesday, December 17
As the USOEC team rolls into day 5 of the Austria training camp, recovery and regeneration appear to be apart of the Austrian and world culture regarding training and competition for sport.

Several years ago in Japan, I was awakened to the idea of resting hard if you will. Certainly, most of you have heard of working hard and this other phrase of resting hard seems to stimulate quicker recoveries for workouts and competitions that will come later. In the Far East and in Central Europe, saunas and massage play a big role in recovery along with hard and easy days combined with half day workouts.

In a nutshell, the training is periodized or broken down into periods of hard training followed by light or easy training to maximize training and performances in competitions.

Here are several practices that both the Swedish coach Hakan and Austrian coach Bruno explained to me:

  1. Four to eight competitions for junior and senior level wrestlers per year
  2. Games daily to stimulate training and teach speed training
  3. Strength training with weights as cadet wrestlers move into junior level age group
  4. Minimal to no weight cutting for competitions except Olympic qualifiers, nationals, and world championships.

Hakan and Bruno also explained that women wrestlers in their countries get less respect than men wrestlers regardless of medals and titles won. They both went on to say funding plays a huge role in the development of wrestling for females in their countries and usually the majority of the funding is allocated to the men.

This seems oddly similar…

Hakan reminded me of the best country in the world for women’s wrestling, Japan, and asked me how many times did I see them actually competing in tournaments around the world.

I answered not many and actually explained to Hakan that the Japanese wrestlers tend to compete in their own tournaments held in Japan except for very few occasions.

Getting back to rest and recovery, the athletes have their own forms of relaxing and this generally comes in the form of games like Mafia, various card games, shopping, internet, and talking to one another.

At Ringsport Austria, the training center we train at, the facility is equipped with a kitchen and dining tables. The athletes saved money and also chatted with one another while cooking and eating the food they made. This was nice to see – athletes from various countries who train hard, rest hard, and relate to one another to help each other and the sport grow.

The fourth night of the trip brought us to Bruno’s house, which is about 50 meters from Ringsport. Bruno’s house is fabulous and also has a sauna, cold plunge, and a wine cellar. The coach’s social was at Bruno’s house and he explained he has been collecting wines for over 30 years (Bruno is 62 and has over 1000 bottles of wine).

On the way to the market today or Thursday, I noticed the cars in Gotzis are generally small and compact. What is also interesting was the amount of SUV’s that I saw which was zero. The vans, trucks, and other cars are also very little as compared to the states.

Also at the market, were little bottles of alcohol (like the kind that are handed out on airplanes) next to the cashier. This was a little shocking and I took a picture to show you. I also took a picture of the beer vending machine in the kitchen. The drinking age in Austria is 19 except for the USOEC athletes.

If you would like to see the pictorial essay of above, click here:

Tuesday, December 16
The USOEC team has been in Austria and away from the States for 3 days and will complete the trip December 23, 2008.

The third day of the camp was unique because the training program combined a circuit of wrestling and strength training with weights, ropes, a gut wrench machine, and sledge hammer. This session started with the usual warm up of gymnastics combined with games and lasted about 1.5 hours.

On the second day of camp, much situational wrestling was completed with clinches, par terre, and 3-point skill live wrestling. Both the second and third day of training had games as apart of the warm up and cool down. The last strategy has been implemented in the USOEC wrestling room since I learned this structure the last couple of years in Japan.

Training can become mundane, boring, or tedious and many times, I’ve learned, games appear to stimulate training and get athletes ready for practice. What is also apparent to stimulate training or ready athletes for training is traveling to foreign countries and or having foreign countries visit during international training camps.

Really, anytime a different training stimulus can be introduced, the athletes like it and enjoy it; a main reason for the recent USOEC training tours. Another reason for the training tours is to educate the athletes and coaches about different societies, peoples, styles of wrestling, and to show how similar all parts of the world are.

Weaving back to the last work out, I noticed a gut wrench machine that was fairly difficult to execute and nonetheless a very good sport specific implement or apparatus for wrestling muscle endurance and technique. Economics sometimes plays a role in the different types of machines that teams own and this gut wrench machine is like no other in terms of sport specificity.

At lunch while talking to Ender, the general manager of Ringsport Austria or the club we are training at, I learned this training center took around 14 years to become a reality and many sponsors helped along with the Austrian Federation and finally the government assisted in financing the building and operation.

Ender is a volunteer with Ringsport and has been involved with wrestling for over 25 years (Ringsport 15 years). His full time job is an outside sales rep for a major international manufacturing company.

Ender went on to explain that most of the clubs in Europe are operated similarly to volunteer organizations in the States. Several countries where wrestling is very popular, i.e. Turkey, Russia, Germany, Iran, coaches and managers are considered professionals and make professional salaries.

This reality is also true in the States as some clubs actually charge a fee to participate while others charge a nominal fee if any to participate in wrestling.

Many of you may know of the YMCA or other non profits whose mission is in alignment with the IRS’s non-profit rules/code to ensure that profit or cash making is not the bottom line and or the role of the non-profit is to, in some way, assist human needs via education or the arts.

On the other hand, there are many great wrestling groups who charge a large fee to participate and these clubs seem to be all over the USA.

In some ways, the States are similar to Austria and Europe and my guess is that all can benefit from using both models described above.

There were a lot of photos taken and you can see them by clicking the below slideshow.

In fact, there are several photo albums dating back to Mongolia of 2006 and Italy of 2005 at my Facebook site.

Sunday, December 14
The U.S. Olympic Education Center traveled to Gotzis, Austria for a training camp starting today through December 23, 2008 and this is a portion of their story as told via pictures and words by Coach Shannyn.

First off, Gotzis, a town of about 10,000 residents, is pronounced ‘Got zees’ and this Austrian wrestling training center is phenomenal. I was literally amazed at the facilities that rival other training centers in all parts of the world. Writing what I see simply does not equate to the resources available to the USOEC crew, Austrians, Swedes, Italians, and German female wrestlers in attendance.

However, Dr. Bruno Hartmann, a retired professor of psychology, physical education, and sociology told me the Austrian federation has helped in financing the training center and his plan is to attract wrestlers from around the globe to attend. My thought is this will only help the USOEC team and any other wrestlers who place their feet on these wrestling mats.

To re-start, 17 USOEC athletes and coaches left for Austria via the usual route of automobiles, planes, and airports and arrived first in Green Bay, WI then Chicago, IL followed by Frankfurt, Germany en route to Zurich, Switzerland and finally we were driven to Gotzis, Austria viewing the Rhine River on the way.

Several years ago, I noticed the amount of foreign competition USA wrestlers were getting in the form of international tournaments and decided to request training tours instead for the developing athletes of the USOEC. USA Wrestling thought this idea was good and as of this writing, the USOEC team has been to Japan twice (with a third planned for spring break 2009) for a training tour and now Austria.

This Traningscamp, as Dr. Hartmann calls it (he actually tells us to call him Bruno), brings together 4 countries with a fifth (Spain) arriving today or Monday. If you get these words via the world wide web in the States, it may actually be Sunday evening while in Austria it is early Monday morning; Austria is 6 hours ahead in time. (I generally force myself to stay up after crossing several times zones to adjust and acclimate quicker…it’s 12:05 am now.)

(At the time of this writing) I actually took several hundred photos and tried to upload them to Facebook to no avail. I believe something is wrong with the connection to the world wide web or maybe I just have not updated or uploaded the latest version of the applications to assist my quest in letting you view the world.  (Now, you can view many, many images by clicking the hyper-link above.)

 Copyright © by Coach Shannyn, All rights reserved

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