Thursday, 13 March 2014

Crufts - If the hats fits


I wore a number of different hats at Crufts this year including:

  1. My GB Team Managers hat - watching and supporting the squad, this was going to be the last time many of them were together before the Performance Weekend.
  2. Agility1st Partner - we launched our new web site and two new programmes.
  3. Wag & Tone supporter - Karen's project is gathering pace with the launch of their e-book.
  4. A spectator - I really enjoy looking at the different breeds and a bit of shopping.
  5. A coach - The main subject of this blog.
Over the last few years I have mainly focused my 1-2-1 coaching on handlers at the top of the sport. I find these people a challenge to work with as they are very focused and know what they are working towards. However they need my help achieving it which I enjoy. The fact is agility is going the way of many other sports, you can only reach the top / elite level with targeted training and coaching.

Five of my top students were at Crufts this year. All of them achieved their goals, two far exceeded them! It's very satisfying to watch someone in the Crufts ring when you know how hard they've worked over the previous months preparing for this big event. Many of these handlers have put in countless of hours of work, both physically and mentally training for this big event.

It never ceases to amaze me how different we all are too. What works with one person may not work with another. Over the last four months I've been working with a top handler from the USA who had qualified for Crufts.  Our work together included advising on travel through to agility course design and the peculiarities of Crufts. The heart of agility is the same the world over, however it was very interesting to find out how different it can be when you step back and take a wider look.

For example differences in USA agility include: specification of some equipment design; indoor surfaces are usual; flying to 'trials' is common place; terminology that conjures up different mindset i.e. 'off-course potential' rather than a trap. The list goes on. 

So my work as a coach this year at Crufts was very fulfilling, if not nerve racking at times.

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