Thursday, 21 March 2013

Familarity in Sport

"2012 BU Football" By Bethal Athletics
This morning our class was held in a tutorial room rather than in the sports hall which is our usual meeting place. The reason we were a classroom was to go over our assessment items as appose to participate in a practical class. However Keith did raise an interesting point about learning in a different environment and the stimulus a new environment may provide.

This got me thinking about familiarity, we as humans seem to be attracted to the notion of familiarity. I know myself I am more comfortable in an environment I am familiar with. Some personal examples of familiarity include finding my favourite coffee shop at uni and seldom daring to visit the four or five other coffee spots on campus. I have a particular section of the lecture theatre I always sit in depending on which room I'm in, and I have a particular seat at the dinner table I sit in every night when I enjoy a meal with my family.

Thinking of familiarity from a sporting perspective we know many athletes are the same. They have their own warm up procedures or rituals they participate in before training and competition. This preparation allows the athlete to gain the appropriate mind set before competition. Familiarity can also occur during a game (mainly in team sports), athletes may get used to a particular playing combination and can throw the ball knowing the other player is going to be there to receive it even without looking.

But what if something unforeseen was to happen that destroyed this familiarity the athlete had become accustom to? I'm not talking about playing an away game at a different venue as this happens regularly in most team sports at all levels of competition. But what if the team bus is late decreasing warm time or an athlete is injured during a game meaning a complete reshuffle of positions?
"Pigeons" By Ambernectar 13
It is often seen in professional sport, particularly team sports where something unexpected occurs and completely throws the players on the field, which is reflected in their performance.

So therefore is it an idea to on occasion to throw a cat among the pigeons at training? Throw the athletes a curve ball and see what response they can come up with?                                                 

There would of course be practical implications with this and coaching staff would have to think carefully about how this could be implemented in a safe setting.

However I do believe this would help to train athletes to respond to unforseen circumstance and to learn to expect the unexpected.

Friday, 15 March 2013

The Fight Againist Doping Continues

Following up from my last post on the Australians Sports Commissions intentions to have all athletes and officials who receive high performance funding, sign a statutory declaration to declare they are not participating in doping activities. I read an article in the Guardian a couple of days ago about United Kingdom Anti-Doping's Chief Executive Andy Parkinson supporting the suggestion of lie-detector use in catching out doping cheats. Parkinson stated the main advantage of this type of test was its innovative nature as he believes Anti-doping Organisations need to become more innovative if they are going to decrease doping in professional sport. The use of lie detectors as a recognised method of finding cheats would have to be approved by the World Anti-doping Authority (WADA) before it could be implemented.

This may be considered an extreme step, however, I do agree with Parkinson about the need for innovation. It is great to see the UK coming up with possible strategies to decrease doping use in sport, just as Australia and other nations around the world are attempting to do. At the end of the day isn't that what want to see? All athletes on a level playing field and competing to win because the are the fastest, strongest or have the best endurance not because they have access to the most advanced drug.

Original article -

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Drugs in Autralian Sport

I read an article in The Australian this morning discussing the intention of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC)to ask all athletes and officials who receive high performance funding to sign a statutory declaration stating they have never taken banned substance. The ASC also stated that they would require National Sporting Organisations to follow suit.

Mr Hollingsworth, ASC Cheif Executive stated "The sports commission felt that it had an obligation, as a big employer of people in the sports sector, to set an example for its own staff and then work with sports around the implementation of declaration policies within their own sphere,"

This is a very postivie move from the ASC, in light of all developments regarding doping in sport reccently it was important for Australia's main sports body to act and act quickly. Erracticating drugs in sport should be a national priority.

Although I think this is a move in the right direction my hope is the rest of the world will follow the ASC as drugs in sport can not be erracticated unless all nations are involved and fight for the same common cause.

Original artical -

Friday, 1 March 2013

Caoch and Athlete Relationship

In class this week we were talking about what a coach should say at particular times in a game to their athlete(s). I believe the biggest thing in understanding what to say to an athlete, is knowing that  athlete.

"Coaching is as much about people as it is about technique and tactics" (Pyke, 2001), I believe this statement to be the essence of coaching. Yes it is important for a coach to understand the technical and tactical aspects of the sport but it is of greater importance for a coach to understand their athlete/s.

The relationship between a coach and athlete is hard to describe. Is it like a brother-sister relationship, a parent-child relationship, a teacher-student relationship, or a romantic relationship? I believe it to be a combination of all of these with trust, respect and understanding being at the core of this. If an athlete feels like they cannot trust their coach are they really going to trust their judgement 110% when it comes to a make or break moment in a competition?

It is often said a coach has many roles, especially when working with developing athletes they  play the role of instructor, authoritiser, friend, first aid officer, parent and confidant and that may be all in one training session!

Developing athletes in a sport such as gymnastics may spend more time with their coach then they do at home with their family, or an athlete having moved out of home for the first time to focus on training may rely on their coach to be a mentor and a friend. It is important for coaches to be aware of this and be prepared to take on this new role.

Someone may have the best technical understanding of a sport but may struggle to communicate with the athlete which will result in both the coach and athlete becoming frustrated with each other and this may put strain on their relationship. If a coach is not prepared to be a mentor to an athlete both on and off the field it may make it very difficult for the two to work together.

Better Coaching - Advanced Coaches Manual, Editor F.Pyke, (2001) pg 3.