Saturday, October 31, 2009

brief update

I've gone way too long without blogging, sorry if you are a regular reader. I have been swamped with other things and had my fill of water polo reading/writing in other areas. There are 2 events for my club teams in November, the first two weekends, so that takes some additional planning. This is an exciting time, but hectic.

Something interesting happened this week that was unusual and interesting so I want to write about that briefly. I was approached by the Head Coach of the largest swim club on the prairies and asked if I would lead his top swimmers through a practice session to give them an idea of what sorts of things water polo players do at practice. These are good swimmers, very good, all with national times and members of Canada Games teams etc. I am not going to waste any time explaining how to move forward or fast, they have a firm grasp of that!

It's interesting to think of what to teach a group of teenage swimmers who don't know water polo. These aren't California kids who have grown up doing both sports, no hybrids here. This is a carefully selected group of highly specialized individuals; for them vertical is for land, horizontal is for water. That will give me focus, I'll stay away from swimming other than to bend a few elbows on front crawl and teach direction change without a wall. Otherwise we will focus on moving with a ball, with a partner or working vertically.

Maybe I will write about how this goes once it is done, I could be surprised by what they show me. Having seen them play a bit of pretend water polo I know they are not masters of passing and shooting - an hour of instruction won't likely change that. However, they may pick up the movement more quickly than I anticipate so that will be interesting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cross Training follow up

In my previous blog I talked about cooperative LTAD planning between sports. It may have sounded like I was anti-swimming, that is not the case. It's just an easy example that comes up year after year. Truth be told, when Bushido was started as a club we named it "Bushido Aquatic Club" not Bushido Water Polo. It was our intent to offer water polo, synchro and speed swimming cooperatively. We did that with water polo and synchro for many years but gave up when the synchro community could not be convinced to support high performance sport.

There was a pretty good reason why we didn't offer speed swimming with the other sports. It was not allowed by the provincial governing body. In order to have formed a club at the time, and joined the organization, they would have to approve where we trained. Since our water polo and synchro clubs were training at the same huge facility we were going to offer all programs there. But, there was already a swim club there and they had the right to keep every other club out of that facility. So we could not join the swimming association and offer cooperative programs, side by side with athletes spending parts of practice on different sports.

Maybe things have changed now, it doesn't matter though, we are not going down that path. But that is too bad as we have some great examples of young kids that have done the 2 sports and excelled at both. Last spring I wrote about a provincial 12&U water polo championship where a young guy from our club demonstrated his 10 month development in the final game on a super breakaway, going a distance he could not have swum 6 months earlier. That was a success from a combined swim and polo season. His speed swimming allowed him strength to showcase his ball skills, awareness and competitive nature. We had taught him to change direction, handle a ball, jump & move vertically and to be aware of dynamic movement. Swimming had taught him to move quickly over a large area without stress. The 2 sports helped each other develop this player. However, it was a parent that juggled the schedules, not a master design of a multi sport club.

I didn't fully understand when I was a teenager how much my sport activities complimented one another throughout the year. Now that I know something about athlete development I can see the relationship between the training I did as a competitive dingy sailor in summers and the water polo and swimming I did in the other 3 seasons. Sailing developed core strength in hiking and trapeze work, grip strength in sail trimming (adjustments by pulling a rope against wind tension) and leg strength in hiking and various squat position movements when maneuvering the boat. There was definitely no plan in that sport development, just chance connection. I'd love to have more control over the progress and success of the players I work with in the 21st century. That is why I write (and read) about these topics now.