So now the hard work and the training begins. Over the coming months the Coaching Team and I will be supporting these handlers in their preparations building up to what for some will be the biggest agility championships of their agility careers.
Meanwhile the domestic competitions are in full swing
By Mark Laker
Crufts was good
The agility produced some great runs which was even more exciting this year as the KC had invested in new carpet for the arena. This carpet was from the same manufacturer who supplied the Agility World Championships in 2012; one of the best surfaces the championships have been run on. So lots of happy people and non-slipping dogs which was nice to see and another example of how developments at the top of the sport filter down to the general community.
The agility competition season has well and truly started now
The weekend shows have started, the caravans are out and this weekend the sun shined too! My youngster Moog has had his first taste of the competition ring. It was very exciting for him. He is enthusiastic and finds all the movement very distracting, however, we did okay. We’ll be using the next three months as practice opportunities as we develop the competition partnership. It’s going to be fast and a lot of fun.
The Agility Team GB Coaching team are now focused on preparing for the Performance Weekend at the end of the month. This is the highlight of the squad process and a chance for the squad members to show us what they can do under international conditions. After this we announce the 2017 teams.
February was a busy month for Team GB activities. The Coaching Team hosted a number of Facebook chat sessions focusing on their specialist subjects. Most of the squad joined in with questions, views and sharing experiences. It was the first time I’ve tried this and it seemed very popular.
I also held the final junior try-out day and the second squad day for the adults. I made a conscious decision at these days to scale back some of the usual activities and focus on dog/handler performance on the agility field; this was a good move, a case of less is more.
Earlier this week we announced the junior team who will be going to Luxembourg in July for the European Open for Juniors (EOJ). We have some great young handlers representing Team GB this year. Exciting times ahead.
Finally, its Crufts week. I’ll be running in the team event on Thursday with my Scunthorpe team mates trying to retain the large dog team winners title we won last year…hope I’ve done enough training!
Posting by Mark Laker
It’s that time of year again when I call up dogs and handlers for next years Agility Team GB Squad. The 50 top performing agility dogs of 2016 will be part of this years squad who will train and prepare over the winter ready for team selection in May 2017.
Over the last four years I have been slowly evolving the squad selection and preparation process. Each year I learn what has worked well and what needs improving. The plan is that we give handlers all the tools and techniques required for international competition so they are ready to perform at their best for the Performance Weekend in April.
I’m introducing a few changes this year which are designed to provide more motivation for the handlers to really engage with the squad process and ‘run to win’ on squad days. The basic structure behind having a squad is sound and we have certainly identified some of the top dogs & handlers in the country. However, we learn a bit more about what works and what needs tweaking each year, this needs to be incorporated into future squad days
Not forgetting the Juniors who will also be starting their selection process in December. These young handlers will have two try-out days before we select the team who will represent Agility Team GB at the European Open for Juniors in Luxembourg next July.
So, it’s an exciting time of the year and the start of next years performance programmes.