Canada, Spain, & USA Tour 2009
This blog is a narrative through the eyes and mind of a female wrestling coach. Most of the events are captured online, wrestling related, and are educational in value – which may add to the essence of life.
The first leg of the tour started in Guelph, Ontario, Canada at the Canada Cup June 28 – July 8. This event was similar to most other camps and competitions i.e. I took a lot of pictures, video, and talked to a lot of athletes, coaches, and people searching for clues to help me become a better coach and to assist the athletes I train in Marquette, MI to reach their maximum potential as athletes and humans.
What became very apparent to me was that athletes need time to relax, have fun, and train with similar intensities. The time period of having fun and relaxing can be planned in training camps and or training sessions…or, having fun and relaxing can be planned during the rest days. The actual time of relaxing and having fun need not be equal in time; or, written in ratio form 1 intense session:1 rest day. The intensity of having fun and relaxing can be similar to the intensity of time trained and can be planned; or written in ratio form 3 intense sessions:1 rest day.
An example of planning time to relax and have fun would be planning a morning off session followed by a game of some sort in the afternoon. The afternoon ‘session’ could also be site seeing, shopping at the mall, going to the movies, walking to a restaurant, etc. The idea behind the relaxing and having fun session is to stimulate the mind/body to perform at an even higher level the next training session while giving the mind/body time to recover.
Another example of planning time to relax and have fun would be planning games and doing fun things during practices either as a warm up, cool down, or during the middle of practice. Games like soccer, freeze tag, basketball, and wrestling games sometimes take the athletes minds away from the idea that they are in “another boring practice”. And, at the same time, get the athletes ready for very intense practices.
Last year, another example, at a training camp in Japan, the Japanese coaches had my athletes play sumo wrestling with their wrestlers…this was fun and competitive and a change of pace from the 12-20 matches during this camp some of my athletes wrestled.
The second leg of the tour was in Madrid, Spain for the Grand Prix of Spain camp and competition from July 8 – July 20. I also took a lot of pictures, videos here and talked to a lot of folks to learn the trade secretsof success on the mat and in life.
What was brought to the forefront of my mind was how many international training camps most European female wrestlers attend annually. On average, most European female wrestlers train at about 3-6 international training camps per year with an additional 1-3 national training camps too. When I asked ‘How many times do you compete per year?’ most of them said 5-7 times per year.
What is interesting about the idea of competing 5-7 times per year is that most European female wrestlers train from 10-12 months. A lot of this time is in training camps and a lot of time is spent preparing for international tournaments and various age group European competitions e.g. Cadet, Junior, Senior European Championships.
I also learned that much of the 10 or 12 month season is periodized into specific training cycles that progress, lead up to, then taper for important competitions. Many European female wrestlers begin intensive type training in January or roughly 2-3 months after the Sr. World Championships. So, from mid October – December training is either light, minimal, or is comprised of many types of games.
The Spanish coach gave the athletes a recovery day at the outside facilities of the Consejo Superior Deportes (Olympic Training Center de Espana) during the middle of the camp and also gave the athletes a recovery day the last session of the camp. Athletes either played butt ball or danced lead by the Spanish national team for the entire practice. The Spanish coach mentioned to me earlier in the day that the athletes were tired and suggested this practice would benefit the athletes.
Incidently, the first year I coached freestyle female wrestlers, many people criticized my team and another team for breaking up the monotony, tension at a competiton with dancing…dancing is fun and relaxing. In my experience, athletes tend to go through the motions when tense and bored.
The last leg of my wrestling journey, July 20 – July 24, lead me to Fargo, ND for the annual Jr. National tournament for American (USA) high school athletes. (FILA Jr. Nationals is for athletes aged 20 and under.) This event is the biggest I’ve ever seen for wrestling and is what I dreamed of winning as a youngster. (I won second place – 1989.) Nonetheless, many high school athletes dream of winning this competition annually and this tournament is a big recruiting event for college coaches.
I do not actually coach at this event in anyone’s corner during matches, although, athletes need coaching that they are worthy of great performances and I am always in their corner off the mat to offer encouragement.
This is what I learned at Jr. Nationals – all athletes believe in themselves and sometimes they need to be reminded to believe in themselves. That statement may seem odd or a contradiction and here is may take on it…
Athletes are winners every time they step on the field of play because it takes tremendous courage to put your self on the line to win or lose in front of the public, parents, and peers.
So, every time I see an athlete who may wonder if they can succeed (in my mind they have already succeeded) I tell them to do their best and they will succeed. I actually said these words “do your best” to an athlete this summer and she remarked there is a deeper meaning in those words. My explanation to her was you can only do your best when the desire to excel comes from within and you believe in your self.
My family is from Chicago and coaches like me need rest and recovery too. This section is being added to suggest that vacations (in Chicago or elsewhere) are a form of resting, relaxing, and having fun.
If you tried to call or email me the last 2 weeks or so, you may have noticed the return of call or email was slower than normal. Normally, I like to work and perhaps work too much promoting women’s wrestling and helping athletes ‘discover’ their true potential.
This summer, I decided to promote and discover my family and relax instead of working every single day which might create an undue amount of stress now and later on in life.
What I’ve learned about myself is I am extremely motivated, goal driven, and a workaholic. This is not all bad nor all good and when I channel my energies, anything is possible.
I talk to a lot of people and one man said to me this summer “I wish I had spent 30 minutes more per day with my daughter when she was growing up”. That is a heavy statement with the notion of balancing work/family and I replied “start now”.
I am starting now.
During the training camp portion of the Grand Prix of Spain 2009, the athletes also executed sport specific drills plus recovery drills and below these events are captured via video.
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