By Mark Laker
International Team Manager
By Mark Laker
International Team Manager
By Mark Laker
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had the first meeting with the 2018 Agility Team GB squad and now we’re four weeks away from the European Open for Juniors and six weeks from the EO for the adults.
Both teams had their first official team training sessions a few weeks ago. We tried something different this year by taking them into the Escape rooms at Nottingham. The idea was to help build teams and get them working together in a different environment.
Judging by the feedback I received it seems to work. They had a lot of fun learning about each others strengths and trying to work out how to escape the rooms through their team work, skill and drawing on each others strengths.
On a serious note learning how to support and interact with each other is crucial at the high pressure events they’ll experience soon. We’ve found in the past that strong relationships and knowing who can provide support when needed is very important.
The agility preparations are going well. The team are using many of the competitions as part of their preparations whilst still going out to perform at their top level. In the next couple of weeks they start tapering down to preserve energy and prevent injuries in the final lead up to the event.
I hope your competition / training season is going well and don’t forget to keep focused on your seasons goals. Its easy to get distracted away from these in the excitement of the competition.
International Agility Team Manager • Agility Team GB
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With the Performance Weekend at the beginning of the month followed by many hours working though our selections for the 2018 teams and then picking dogs and handlers for this years development programme. Its exciting, rewarding and challenging, but thats the role. There are also many people who ask for feedback on their performance and where they can improve in the future.
This year we’ve selected to take 26 dogs to the European Open in Austria and 17 dogs to the World Championships in Sweden. You can read more about the selections and considerations in our decision making process in my blog For these handlers the hard work now begins. There is a lot of preparation required leading up to these big competitions not only the logistical planning, but also mapping out their training programmes for the months ahead.
These handlers will now be setting out which competitions they’ll attend to assist their preparations, setting out fitness and conditioning programmes for themselves and their dogs, working on their mental skills, as well focusing on the dog training and handling skills required for the courses they’re likely to be faced with. So lots to do.
Following the Performance Weekend we also picked 11 dogs to join this years development programme. This programme is designed to help prepare dogs and handlers for a chance in a future team. It’s been running for a couple of years now and we’ve had very positive feedback from previous people.
For the Coaching Team we’ll be getting to work with all the handlers over the next few weeks to identify where help they need and supporting them as they set out their 2018 plans. Although the hard work starts now, its a really enjoyable part of the job.
I’m hoping for some better agility weather so I can compete with my youngster who is coming on well. I’ve entered three competitions so far this year, two have been rained off.
March blog by Mark Laker
International Agility Team Manager -Agility Team GB
So how are your New Year habits going?
Hopefully you’re still maintaining focus on them…It’s difficult though isn’t it. I’m pleased to report that I’m still on track with mine…well the easy ones like drinking more water, eating more fruit and less chocolate (that is a hard one actually). I still have to work at the tougher habits I want to develop, its so easy to find reasons [read excuses] not to do them. It’s too wet, its too cold, I’m tired, I have other important things to do etc… But I’ve been working really hard to ignore these thoughts and just do it. I’m pleased to say its working and the habits are forming.
Later this month we have the second tryout day for the juniors hoping to be selected for the team going to the European Open for Juniors in The Netherlands this year.
And we also have the second squad day for the adults. Both days will require handlers to pull out their best runs on the day to be in with a chance of selection, especially the juniors as this will be their last try-out day. I’ll let you know how they get on next month and hopefully may be able to announce the team too.
By Mark Laker
Last weekend young handlers and this years senior squad attended the first two Agility Team GB days at Nottingham Trent University Brackenhurst Campus.
The FCI Agility World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic lived up to our expectations. The atmosphere amongst the supporters and competitors was fantastic. The standard of the agility courses was very high; they were technically challenging and yet exciting to watch. And of course the standard of competition was incredible. Much like the European Open the handling seen amongst the top teams was precise, fast and well practiced.
Agility at this level gets faster and more exciting each year. The top dogs are now regularly reaching speeds exceeding 6 metres per seconds (MPS). To put this in context when I first started looking at dog speeds we were aiming at 5.6 MPS for the same group of dogs. That’s a 12% increase in speed in four years. Obviously there are many factors that effect the speed including course design, the surface, jump heights etc.. however dogs and handlers continue to achieve faster times.
Unfortunately we didn’t win any medals this year. Which obviously we were disappointed about; I felt we were strong contenders for at least two medal positions. Our results didn’t reflected our performance. Many team members exceeded expectations, some pulled out a few surprises and others showed potential for the future.
Overall as a team I felt we were well prepared and knew what to expect. I think what caught us out was the raw power and speed of many of the dogs and handlers. This didn’t phase us, but it did make us push for every drop of energy and speed we could find.
So what next? Well the Coaching Team re-group later this month to plan our 2018 activities and how we are going to get our dogs quicker. Follow Mark Laker’s blog here: http://marklaker.blogspot.co.uk/