So Team GB. This was the first year of my new squad process. Last year we simply ran a performance weekend and selected the EO team based on this one day. This was due to the fact it was my first year as manager and I hadn't had a chance to put the new process in place. This year G7 handlers submitted their points for winning KC showcase classes through 2013 (Championship classes, Olympia qualifiers, Crufts singles etc...) the top 40 were invited on to the squad.
The squad preparation period ran from 01 Jan through to 01 May taking in two squad days, Crufts, a number of Championship classes, Olympia qualifiers and the performance weekend. The basic principle was; the Support Team give the squad information, training ideas, set out what we'll be looking for and offering our help at the two squad days, then we see how the squad build on this information over the next few months leading up to team selection in May.
This process allows me to move away from selecting teams based one day's performance.
Talking to other team managers, it would appear that whatever system you use there are advantages and disadvantages.
A handler said to me shortly after the squad had been selected in December. "Are you sure you have the right people in the squad?". My reply was "who have I missed out?". The reply was "true..."
There was also concern raised that it was potentially too hard to gain squad points and I would get a handful of people winning everything. I purposely set the bar high. You needed to win in order to gain points, not a second or a third place but a win. At the end of the process we had over 50 people submitting points. I wanted the best of the best so I still think the criteria for gaining points is correct.
I think the toughest part about this is generally people don't like change. I saw that we had to change the way we: selected, prepared, trained and structured our international teams or we would struggle to win medals in the future.
I believe the knock on effect of this process will be a rise in the overall standard of agility in the UK as competition to win these show case classes increases.
The revised selection process is the first part of this change. I'll write about the performance weekend in my next blog.
"When the wind of change blows, some people build wind mills, some people build wind breaks. Some people break wind!"