Behind the Blocks – Week 5

This week provide me with new insights into skill development and mastering techniques from an athlete’s perspective. Over the past few weeks, training with Steve and watching both adults and kids participating in the Winter Wonderland sessions has opened my eyes to understanding the commitments and routines that are imbedded into mastering techniques and achieving each athlete’s best performances.

For the Thursday session we headed back out to the Charnwood Ovals. This week we started off with our usual warm up, but added in new exercises of grapevines, aimed at stretching and moving the quads and hamstrings before running, and arm swings performed in the motion of the freestyle swimming stroke then turning around and performing a backstroke movement. This allowed us to open up and rotate our shoulders. We then did our quick run throughs and got into the sprinting. For tonight’s session we completed 10 reps of 100 metre sprints with a slow walk back as recovery. This was performed at an 80% intensity level. This allowed us to think about how to manage fatigue and how to stay focused and keep going when fatigue takes over. We finished up with our normal cool down.

At the Saturday session we had approximately 50 kids and adults participating again this week, which is showing that the new Winter Wonderland session has been a success for all ages to get involved and work on skills without having the added pressure of competing and trying to achieve their best times or distances. Walking around and taking photos each week has allowed me to watch each age group and coaches get involve and really focus on improving their techniques and understand what the purpose of each session is for. Through all the excitement, over the past few weeks I have noticed that many of the kids are becoming really engaged, listening to both the interns and junior coaches through understanding the skills that are being demonstrated and getting involved to demonstrate these skills. Looking back on the photos taken each week showcases just how involved the interns and junior coaches are with establishing a connection with their group and developing the skills and each participant getting involved and having fun at the same time. At the end of the session, the tiny tots and their parents lined up and sang a big ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of their amazing coaches, Deb. This was a wonderful gesture that showed how much of a family orientated club we are and how much each participant appreciates the coaches.

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day that soon becoming very warm when we were completing our session. This week we had a huge turn out of 10 runners. After completing our warm ups with the added new exercises, we completed our run throughs then headed up to the start line to start our sprints. We got into two heats and performed 120 metre sprints at 3 different intensities, over 5 reps. The first 40 metres consisted of an 80% intensity, which was aimed at mastering our take off and holding a fast pace. The next 40 metres was at 60%, which was aimed at holding a steady pace when running over a longer distance. Then the last 40 metres was back up to a higher intensity of 90% aimed at an explosive finish. The purpose of the changed intensities was designed to focus on transition from each intensity through not losing speed and continuing the same momentum. I found it harder to transition from the 80% down to 60% as you had to really focus on not pulling up to quickly and smoothly transitioning into each intensity. My preferred was the last 40 metres as it was challenging to drive quickly off a slower pace. Transitioning from various intensities is an area that I need to work on when on the football field, so completing this session was very beneficial for me. Our recovery for the session was a slow walk back whilst stretching out our calves to avoiding tightening up when fatigue was kicking in. The cool down consisted of a slow jog around the track to wrap up the last session for the week.

Although this week challenged me towards working on technique, it was also very enjoyable and beneficial.

Lindsay Mitton