Olympic Observations – Bolt & Lezak

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With the summer Olympics at the half-way mark, here are some observations:

Track – Usain Bolt
After watching Usain Bolt shattering the world record with a 9.69 in the 100m, I realize I have been coaching the event all wrong. I always thought sprinters had to use their arms in the last 20 metres of the race. Apparently holding them out like wings while pounding the chest is faster. I can hardly wait to implement this new technique!

Swimming
Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals in swimming was a super story.

But the best race performance, for me, was watching his teammate, 32 year-old Jason Lezak on the final leg of the of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay.

Lezak was anchoring against the world record holder in the 100m freestyle, Alain Bernard, of France. Bernard had done some trash-talking before the race, stating that the French team would smash the Americans. As the race progressed and the final exchange took place, it  appeared that Bernard’s prediction would come true, as he entered the water almost body-length ahead of Lezak.

However, as the Frenchman raced down the pool, he edged too close to his lane line. Lezak, the canny veteran, realizing the mistake, edged over to their shared line and drafted behind Bernard, riding his bow-wave, like a dolphin with a ship.  It was a rookie error on Bernard’s part, and Lezak made him pay.

With 10 metres to go, Lezak, who had expended a fraction of the energy of the Frenchman, made his charge, head bobbing, legs thrashing and arms flailing furiously.  The move was so dramatic, that he almost appeared to lift out of the water. Lezak out-touched Bernard by 8/100th of a second after having swum the fastest relay leg in history.

It was something to see. Michael Phelps deserves the attention he’s receiving, but he owes his record of 8 gold medals to Jason Lezak.

There will be more Olympic observations in the next blog.

P.S. Bernard later redeemed himself by winning the 100m freestyle in a new world record.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]Olympics,Usain Bolt,Jason Lizak,swimming,track[/tags]

Defeat Reveals an Athlete’s True Character

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A big loss can tell you more about a person’s character than a big win. Defeat tends to strip away our layers of camouflage to reveal the person’s true nature.

I witnessed just such a situation this weekend at the Ontario high school track and field championships (OFSAA). It’s a huge, prestigious, high-pressure event, involving over 2200 athletes plus a stadium-full of parents, spectators and university scouts. The athletes call it “The Show.”

One of my runners had qualified for the sprint hurdle event. She’s a 15-year-old dynamo, with freckles, a huge smile, a quit wit and so much energy that she often bounces up and down when she is talking to you.

She had beaten the odds just to qualify. Although she had been an OFSAA and Canadian Legion finalist last year, she had injured her hip early in the Spring and had barely been able to practice. But she persevered, attended therapy sessions, stopped her other sports (of which there are about five), and got herself healthy enough to advance through the qualifying meets.

In the morning heats at OFSAA, she had run well, qualifying third behind an athlete who had broken the meet record.

The afternoon final was a pressure cooker, run in tropical heat before a capacity crowd. My runner, in lane three, had a decent start and was still in contention when the runner next to her hit the fourth hurdle then took two stumbling steps and fell sideways into my athlete’s lane, flying at my girl’s ankles like a halfback making a cut-block.

My runner was forced to jump sideways to avoid contact, but it put her out of rhythm and slowed her to a near-stop. The race was long over by the time she crossed the finish line, tears streaming down her face.

She was sobbing as she walked off the track, and after a teary hug with Dad and a thrown track spike, stomped off to cool down. With all the adversity she had overcome and sacrifices she had made to get to this race, she was incredibly frustrated, disappointed and angry.

A half hour later, she came back and told me that she’d probably have another cry later by herself, but she’d be OK. She was tough. And it was better that this had happened in the final than in the heat.

Then she said – with a smile – that it was Karma that this had happened. “How so?” I asked.

“Well, when she hit the hurdle, I thought “Good!” So the next thing you know, she’s in my lane. That’s Karma. You shouldn’t think bad thoughts about the other girls when you race.”

Like I said…character!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]track,hurdles,hurdling,physical education,character[/tags]

Sports Injuries Often Occur Off the Field

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An event during this year’s cross-country running season reinforced the point of an article I wrote several years ago called “Injuries- Check Outside Activities.” (PE Update members can find it using the search bar).

The point of the article was, if your athletes sustain an injury – especially a chronic injury – make sure you know what their outside activities involve. And make sure you know what kind of shoes they use for casual-wear.

What reminded me of that article was one of my female runners who complained of foot pain back in the Fall. A week of non-impact training in the swimming pool didn’t help at all – the pain kept getting worse.

It wasn’t until we saw her mosey into practice one afternoon that we realized what was going on. She was wearing ballet-type slippers. Our campus is hilly with a 15-minute walk on paved streets between some classes. She was wearing the slippers because they were “comfy.”

After advising her to wear better shoes, there was still no improvement for a couple of days. We then thought to ask what she was wearing instead of the slippers. Flip flops. Not much better. She explained that they went with her nail polish (this was in late October in a northern climate). Needless to say, we advised another change in footwear.

A week after exchanging her ballet slippers and flip-flops for regular running shoes, her foot pain was gone. A miracle!!

This is a great example of an injury whose origin wasn’t sport-related. The moral is, be careful when you encounter one of your own athlete’s ailments – they may not have occurred on the playing field at all. And athletes often don’t realize how their non-sport activities can affect their injury status – as a result they may fail to mention such activities to you. You must often be very pointed in your questioning when trying to determine the cause of your athletes’ injuries.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,sport,injuries,sports medicine, coach,coaching[/tags]

Christmas List for a Sport & Physical Education Editor

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Well, it’s the morning of Christmas eve and, while it’s too late to write Santa, I do have a few Christmas wishes related to sport. This Christmas, I wish:

…For two new hamstrings to be left in my Xmas stocking. My old ones are broken.

…That NFL quarterback great, Brett Favre, would finally admit that his name should be pronounced “Favréy” not “Farve.”

…That they’d get rid of the offside rule in soccer. There are only a couple of goals in most games. Why not live a little?

…That NHL hockey players would stop the tradition of not shaving during the playoffs. Between facial scars and lack of teeth, they don’t need a scruffy beard to look mean and ugly.

…They’d let 400m runners cut in after the first turn. And a three-turn stagger in 4 x 400 relays is ridiculous. Heck, nobody knows who’s in first until most of the race is over.

…That my personal fast break skills were once again, actually…, well, fast.

…That synchronized swimmers will finally find an alternative to the nose clip. Nose clips are not a good look for a cosmetic sport. Nostril corks would be better.

…That golf courses be forced to allow two hours per day for walking, jogging, picnicking…and cross-country running practices! All that nice grass is too nice to use only for golf

…That NBA referees finally start to call their millionaire players for traveling. It’s one of the first rules you teach a beginner, and if a 10 year old isn’t allowed to travel, neither should the pros.

…For a no-spitting rule in baseball. Heck, other players may have to slide on the that stuff.

…That we could all settle our differences with balls, not bombs.

…A happy holiday season to you and yours.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,sports,sport,Christmas,wish list[/tags]

A Good Luck Message From A Caring Coach

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As the scholastic sport season winds down, I’d like to post this message from a coach to his athletes. Circumstances beyond his control left Colin Ward, the head track coach at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, unable to attend the city championships with his athletes – athletes with whom he’d been working for months.

While he couldn’t be there in person, he sent a message that encompasses practical advice with inspirational words. It also embodies the true spirit of scholastic sport.This is the message he sent before the meet.

Coach’s Send-Off
I want to say good luck to all of you as you head into the City Championships! I wish I could be there to see all of our training pay off. I want you to know, you all have the capacity to exceed yourselves, most of you have worked very hard to get to this point, and with these few tips you will be able to make the most of your experience this week!

1. Cheer for each other and watch each other! Most people need an audience, or at the very least, appreciate the words of encouragement that come from friends and team mates.

2. Support each other. Some people will have great days and simply need to be congratulated, others will have bad days, and just need a friend to sit with.

3. The little things matter! Our team usually does better when the conditions are horrible because we pay attention to details. That means……..

  • Rest the day before, and get a good sleep before and during competitions.
    •    Eat well and drink lots of water,
    •    STAY OUT OF THE SUN AND WIND
    •    Dress properly. You should have the clothes to stay warm in any weather. The engine only works when it is hot! If you get cold, you may as well throw away months of training.
    •    Cool down! Most of you know to warm-up properly, but if you don’t cool down you are slowing your recovery. A light jog for 10 -20 minutes is a good use of time after an event.

4. Focus on the positive. You might not do as well as you were hoping to, but beating yourself up over it won’t do any good. Focus instead on what went right, then think about areas for improvement. This is not always easy to do in the heat of the moment, but it is worth keeping in mind.

5. Have fun!! High School will be over before you know it. Enjoy these moments with your team and friends. Years from now it won’t matter how you did, it will just matter that you did.

And post videos and pictures for me, I’ll be following the events closely.”

This is the final blog post until September. I won’t post during the July or August vacation period because I’m not sure there’ll be anyone to read them. Have a great summer!!

Dick Moss, Editor, 
PE Update.com

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,track and field,coaching,coach>[/tags]

 

Jenny Simpson – World 1500 Meter Champion – on Dealing With Disappointment

Here’s an excellent interview for those of you who must deal with athletes who have experienced a disappointing performance…and what coach hasn’t dealt with that situation!

In fact, it’s so relevant that you might want to email a link to such athletes so they can watch it themselves.

The interview is with Jenny Barringer Simpson. Jenny, currently 26 years of age, won a surprise gold medal in the 1500 meters at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics. She is also the American record holder in the steeplechase with a time of 9:12.50.

Here’s a sample of her philosophy: “But I can tell you from past experiences, you can’t win them all, but you can be a fighter in every circumstance.”

I’m having some formatting problems, so I’ve had to put her interview at the very bottom of the page.

Also, here is footage of her World Championship win. She was not favored to win and the look of shock on her face after the race is priceless (I think the commentary is in Spanish). Her interview about disappointment did not take place after this race.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XO9R-Ds60Jo#!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]Jenny Simpson,Jenny Barringer Simpson,track and field,1500 metres,1500 meters,World Athletics Championships 2011>[/tags]

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