As the season comes to an end, many of us will be reviewing our performances from this year and considering how we can improve for the next agility season.
It is important to note that each handler will prefer a different method of review, some perhaps finding it beneficial to crunch detailed numbers e.g. how many poles came down this season due to left-hand slices, or how much time is being lost on each curved tunnel, etc. Whereas other people may prefer a wider view on their performance e.g. weave independence overall was an issue, or front crosses were challenging.
Each of our minds will work differently when it comes to analysis and it is crucial when evaluating your performance to take this into consideration and create a personalised plan to move forward. If a very detailed review with numbers, times and figures is given back to someone who doesn’t interpret this kind of information in a beneficial way, then this could deflate their confidence and cause panic rather than clarity.
So this is the first step: realise how your mind will best interpret a review of you and your dog’s performance and then progress on with this method of analysis…
There is no right or wrong way, I have spoken with different top agility handlers around the world that all have a slightly different way of reviewing their performance but yet they all still perform at the top again next season.
Performance reviewed? Now it’s time to set some goals…
Goals will allow you to know what your aim is with your training and provide you with a clear way of measuring your progress. So what might your goals focus on? I recently asked followers of the Marita Davies Agility Facebook page ‘What are your training goals this winter?’
Erica- ‘Fitness (human and dog), increase confidence to improve speed on contacts, and continue progressing with more difficult weave entries and exits’.
Erica has clearly defined the areas she would like to work on, we now need to formulate a plan to make these goals possible. To improve fitness we would need to decide if the goal is to gain more strength and power, or if cardiovascular fitness is more of a focus, whether it’s one of these aspects or both a tailored fitness plan could be drawn up with small milestones to reach.
To measure success we could aim to be doing 15 minutes HIIT by the end of month one but by the start of the agility season, the aim could be to be doing 30 minutes HIIT sessions several times a week.
Lily- ‘Running contacts turns, more confident seesaw and faster weaves with solid entries’.
Lily may prefer figures, therefore it would be beneficial to time weave speed in training and the speed of weaves in the ring this season by timing weaves in previous runs. Taking into consideration variables such as how often has the dog competed and how does the dog copes with the competition environment etc., we can formulate a plan to increase weave speed by a realistic amount of time.
It’s important not to overlook factors such as the environment as affecting the dog’s speed because no matter how much you work on weaves at training, the main progress will come from working on the dog’s confidence in the competition environment.
But remember goals have to be flexible…
They are likely to change throughout the year or even from month to month. Take for example if your goal was to retrain from a stop dog walk to running contacts this winter but your dog gets injured. Don’t try and stick to your original plan, adjust and adapt to the situation, in this scenario the goal could change to working on verbal’s with just cones in your living room while they recover or teaching some tricks which involve minimal movement such as head down or stacking cups to improve communication and understanding between you both.
Jess- ‘My goal for winter was to get Alf to G6 through consistency and clear fast handling, and Pip to a clear in the indoors with course running and handling, but because of recent personal diagnoses, and the realisation that I have to make changes, my winter will be filled with work on distance handling, to support my 2020 season goals even if I can’t make it to where I need to be on the course.’
Review, adapt and be flexible with change!
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