So why was this years Team GB at the European Open (EO) one of our best?
Over the last five years the number of people competing in agility and the number of shows in the UK has grown enormously. I estimate that most weekends there are at least six competitions being held around the country. There are weekday shows throughout the summer and I've lost count of the number of camps that are held.
At what I call the Premier Competitions, Championship shows, there are regularly 100 - 150 dogs in each championship height category. The result of this is we don't get to mix with other height groups, watch competitions outside our own level, socialise as much around the rings and develop any real team work because we're scattered around the country or the competition rings.
Being aware of how closely linked strong team work is to performance, I look for team qualities when selecting the international teams. There is strong evidence from other countries and other sports and our own large dog team, that teams who work together and build strong bonds together, perform better.
So going back to the challenge we have of building teams given the number of people and shows in the UK, this year I made additional effort to build a team of handlers who not only have good team attributes but also people who could bring handlers of different ages, dog height groups, levels of experience, etc. together as one team. These people were the 'glue' in the team.
There were occasions during the training and lead-up to the EO that these people could be seen bringing groups together, helping each other, sharing ideas, laughing and enjoying themselves, picking each other up after runs that didn't go to plan. It really did feel like we were one team this year.
I'll be looking for more glue in the future.