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So I have been told I need to write Coaches Corner this week, could be interesting… Given I am not an official TA Coach and base my own training on what fits with my family commitments, desire on the day and what an old friend (who happens to be a two times Kona competitor) told me when I first started out two seasons ago “racing is the best form of training”.
I will leave any pearls of wisdom in regard to triathlon planning and training to the qualified coaches and instead offer an insight into child wrangling.
As the “Pups” coach, our club’s junior triathlon program, I have developed a program based on fundamental movement skills, my experience a primary school Phys-Ed teacher and years of club and school squad swim training. So, what pearls of wisdom can I offer you? Well how about managing groups of children, you know for that next kids party or coaching the netball team?
Managing groups of kids is made easier by keeping some simple rules in mind.
You need to be the loudest, however this doesn’t mean yelling and screaming. It means gaining attention. Teachers use all kinds of means of gaining this from hand signals, whistles, bells and voice. Personally, I favour voice as it is always with me. The key point is having their full attention and being loud enough for all to hear.
Kids have no spatial boundaries which as adults we accept as common sense. If you ask them to move away from each other and make some space because they are going to do some stretching, dancing or whatever, there will always be those who move all the way to the other side of the natural boundaries set by the court, oval, room or pool you are within.
To eliminate this and make your own life easier, set a boundary before giving the go ahead “I want you to come and sit on this mat”, “I want you to find some space away from each other inside these cones”, “we are going to play the game inside the centre third marked by these four lines”.
If you are not the most exciting option you have no chance. Don’t try and give instruction while a lady is chasing a group of puppies across the oval, a plane is flying overhead, a rainbow suddenly appears, or they have something in their hands. All those things are more exciting than you, in fact I have found in a child’s mind pretty much most things are more exciting than listening to someone give an instruction. When it comes to equipment, always hand it out after the instruction, if they already have it from a previous activity have them place it on the ground in front of them until after instructions are given.
This one is simple. Basically, it is easier for you if you redirect within a game or activity rather than stopping and starting. Just reiterate the point that needs attention during a game and have the children change mid task.
Kids hate stop – start and will lose interest if you interrupt the flow of an activity too often. It is important to make sure you are the loudest in this case. Bear in mind if there is major issues stopping the activity will be necessary.
Black and White/Short and Sharp
Make instructions clear and to the child’s level (black and white, no ambiguity). Don’t go on and on, remember you are only going to be the most exciting point of distraction for a short period before an ant or fart takes that away from you so make the most of it.
This may be the last point, however, it is the most important. Kids are learners, as learners we need feedback and this should be given in a positive form, be genuine and regular. Make change by pointing out something they are doing well first “great work keeping you head up Bill but try not to swing your arms across your body”. Do this and children will seek it out and absorb the information. Don’t do it and they will lose interest.
Seems simple and makes sense, right? Start being aware of this and you will notice those who do it well and those who don’t. It is about confidence and control. You need to be your best in order for kids to be theirs.
Have fun out there, Mike.
Overtraining – could we actually call it “under-recovering”?
For those of you training towards Busselton in December, your training will be approaching the hardest stages over the next few weeks. This means LONG rides, brick runs, open water swims, and usually a lot more intensity. For each athlete, the risk of overuse injuries is often higher at this stage of the season, and we commonly blame “overtraining”. But is this a misleading description?
Assuming you are following the plan your coach gave you, then you have been increasing both your intensity and distance consistently and in small increments to allow your body to gradually prepare for the rigours of race day. So either your coach has stuffed up, or you are actually “just-enough-training”… Certainly compared to an elite athlete putting in 30+ hours a week of training, you aren’t.
The unknown variable in the training equation for every athlete is recovery. I can’t stress how important this is, especially for triathlon, with its high training load. You are forcing your body to adapt to three sports at once, remember!
A lot of athletes give me a funny look when I ask them about this stuff, but it can be the thing that makes of breaks your race, and certainly the thing that may mean we see a lot more of each other if it isn’t done well!
What can we do to enhance recovery?
- SLEEP – the #1. Get enough (you need more than someone who just sits at a desk and goes for a 30min walk each day), and make sure it is quality. Dark, cool bedroom. Stop reading triathlete.com until 11pm and put the bloody iPad away. And if you are training at 5.30am, you just have to go to bed early…..
- Lots of fruit, veg and protein. And the big one, get enough calories. This may mean eating some junk food as well, especially after hard or long workouts. Just get the quality stuff too. (Additional – 6 weeks out from race day isn’t a good time to start the latest Instagram diet or keto-plan. Keep it simple and wholesome).
- Self-care. Massage/roller/trigger ball/stretch/hydrotherapy/etc – basically show your body some love. Never to the point of pain – a mild discomfort (3/10 on the pain scale) is the most you want.
- Take 5-10mins a day to meditate/deep breathe/read a book/lie down. The more we can stimulate the “Rest and Digest” system, the better your body will repair itself.
What prevents recovery?
- NOT ENOUGH SLEEP. Worth mentioning twice!
- Stress – work, family and general life stress can have a huge impact on your recovery, by keeping your body in “Flight or Fight” mode, and therefore dampening the rest and digest bit. Try to limit this as much as you can, and if you can’t (eg work), allow for more of the above points.
- Not going easy enough in easy sessions. Yes, 130bpm heart rate still counts as training. Learn to back off when you need to.
- Previous injuries/illness – these may mean that the area (eg an arthritic knee) or your immune system as a whole may need more time.
- Age – sorry, but this is a big one. A 45year old athlete needs more time between key sessions than a 25year old athlete. Your coach will allow for this, but its one reason why comparing training to your teammates can be a bad idea, especially if you are competitive.
So ultimately, the take home message is simple:
Quality Training + Good recovery – Factors Impeding Recovery = Your Performance
Maximise the first two (notice I said quality training, not MORE training) and limit the last one, and you’ll avoid coming to see me, and have a great race day.
Neil is a Physiotherapist and Triathlon Coach, as well as a multiple Ironman finisher. He specialises in blending Physio treatment with coaching advice to deliver optimal outcomes for his clients, and through his competitive background he understands the importance of the “big picture” in managing injuries effectively. He consults from Fieldwork Health in Inglewood and the Perth CBD, and is always happy to answer questions via email.
Nickname: Damo, Fang or Gromit.
How long have you been doing tri?: 18 months.
How did you get into tri?: I was after a new challenge and a friend pointed me in this direction. I had no clue what to do next, this is where Coach Peta came in and helped with all my questions on how to kick start the sport.
How many bikes do you have?: Just the humble three bikes (ha ha). My Road/Tri bike, an older 29er mountain bike and lastly my old Repco mountain bike I ride to the airport on fly-out day.
What do you want to achieve this season?: Firstly, an injury free season, touch wood. There are five races I have penciled in to race in and fingers crossed I might make a podium in my age group once this season. But not stressed, fun first as always a priority for me.
How long been in tri: 3 years with hopefully lots more to come!
How did you get into tri: I had done a few fun runs and was reading an email about the Sunsmart Womens Tri. I thought, ‘what a cool event and look everyone gets a medal – I want one (ha ha) I’ll give it a go. I entered the short distance tri with very limited swimming and biking I had an absolute blast. I got the medal and haven’t looked back.
How many bikes do you have: 2 bikes, a lovely road bike and my favourite bike Shirley the Shiv time trail bike.
What do you want to achieve this season: To have fun and enjoy the events and training with a great club and friends. Oh and to build to hopefully ironman distance next year and to get around 5.45 for a 70.3 ironman.
Nickname: Doc (because my initials are M.D.)
How long have you been in tri?: 3 years
How did you get into tri?: My cousin was doing them and I decided to have a go at one and have been hooked ever since.
How many bikes do you have?: 4
What do you want to achieve this season?: To complete the half ironman in May next year.