onsdag 23. november 2011

Am I a good teacher?

So it has been a while, since I wrote the last time. With a new job in France, there has been enough to do lately, so that's maybe why! Also the season has ended, and it's time to evaluate and look forward. For the athletes that I'm helping it's really important, that they a good job evaluating, setting new goals and making a good plan for next year. So I spend some time on this process as well trying to help them as much as I can. So time goes by, no worry!

My first camp with the French team
So I've had my first camp with the French team. It was nice to get started and meet everyone for the first time. The camp was located in relevant terrain for WOC middle distance next year. The spirit in the team for doing technical training is high and I'm impressed with the level of the trainings. No wonder the French are good technical. Still there are also things to improve and things I want to focus on. So in December I will go back to France and introduce the master plan for 2012. Looking forward for that.

3 lectures
14 days ago, I made 3 lectures in just 2 days. The first were for coaches in orienteering, about a mastery approach, in a training environment. I hope that everyone got something out of it and that my points will make some difference for some environment in Norwegian orienteering. It's so easy only to focus on results in the way we coach, but science has showed that we as coaches should have more focus on mastery. Just being in sports gives a lot of focus on outperforming others, and especially for younger athletes, I believe it's not the best way develop. So my points were, how we make mastery focused environments in orienteering. Some of my suggestions were; focus on the individual person, good goal settings and having many different levels on trainings. I think that more focus on this will make the athlete develop in an even better way, instead of only comparing with your training friends or the top level in your class. I also believe that even senior elite level has a lot to learn from this stategy.

The next two lectures were in the Norwegian School of sport science, in the bachelor program of applied sports psychology. The first topic was changes in motivation during competition. That is the topic of my master thesis. I tried to give an overview of my thoughts about that issue. My thoughts are that we can gain some time, by becoming more aware of what changes the motivation during the race, and how you can avoid that it will have a negative effect on your performance. Fore sure I will get back on that, when I deliver my thesis.

The last lecture was about my mental work with Tue Lassen. Tue visited from Copenhagen and helped me do the lecture. We talked about how we are working together and especially on the use of Mindfullness. The last years I have really gotten into using mindfullness in the mental work for the athletes. I see that it works really well especially handling the stress situations before and under the competition. Mindfullness is linked up to the feeling of flow and that is where I first, got my thoughts from. It's about learning to stay in the moment, accepting who you are and the situation you are in. Just to stay focused on what you are doing. The principle is really simple, but hard to learn. That is also a reason to believe in it because I believe some theories are too complicated to use in real life situations. For me Mindfullness is the ultimate strategy for dealing with some really important aspects of performance. The work with Tue seems also to prove that, so I’m up for using it even more. A good book I can recommend is The Inner Game of Tennis. So if you need something to read, try that one.

Great posibilities for technical training in Oslo.
It's nice that the early winter has been warm in Oslo. That means that there is possibilities to train a lot of technical training, before the snow comes. All the technical training that I make with Wang Toppidrett (the school where I work) are open for everyone who wants to join. First of all I'm glad that my students seem to agree with my about doing this type of training now. Their spirit is good and it motivates me a lot. Still I wonder why only 2-4 athletes of the, so to speak elite athletes living in Oslo, take advantage of this possibility? We even have sprint on the program ones in a while!

Anneli and Håkan in Sweden
Last but not forgotten, it was nice to read that Anneli and Håkans work in Swedish orienteering is appreciated. I know both of them and I know that their hearts are beating for orienteering. They focus on seeing the athlete as a whole person, working with athlete in the center and not just coach for their own glory. So, it’s good to see that coaches that have some of the same values as I, get confirmation that they are doing a good job.

lørdag 29. oktober 2011

Parlez-vous français?

So as many of you know, Tuesday I’m starting a new job with the French national team. I’m looking forward to working with the French athletes and I think I have a lot to offer. Since I’ve stopped my job in Halden last year, though studying in Oslo I felt the hunger for coaching a top-level team again. So now I’m back in business.

The French team had a really good season this year with WOC at homeground. In some ways it will be hard live up to that, but I’m up for the task. There is always room for improvement; it’s just to look the right places.

I also look forward to cooperating with the other coaches and staff in the federation. I got a really good impression of them when we meet up. So I feel everything is set up for some good times with the French team.

torsdag 20. oktober 2011

The wide road to top-level orienteering (part 1). The story of Bjørn and Heidi

Not many athletes, make it all the way to the top in elite sport, that’s a fact. So as many people before me, I'm wondering about what factors that effects the development of top-level athletes. In other words, talent development strategies. I will focus mostly on Norwegian orienteering, because I have a lot of knowledge about it. Still I hope that people outside Norway think that it’s interesting to read about.

Obviously we need talents to develop to top-level athletes in Norwegian orienteering if we again wan’t to become the best nation in the world. The “natural” way is to get selected to the national junior squad and perform as a junior, which will give you a spot in the senior development squad. After that you perform as a senior and get to elite squad and perform at elite level. In that matter how you perform as a youngster in many ways effects if you get the possibility to become good or do it? Is the federations environment the best for development and should it be? If you look at the last years selection to the development squad, only juniors that has been performing at the highest level will get chance to make this team in first year as a senior. Normally 2/3 of the junior squad and everyone else is left without support from the federation in the first years as a senior.

The last two years of WOC only approx. 50% of Nordic medalists (NOR-SWE-FIN), have performed top 6 at JWOC. So the question is if we should select the development squad only on top performances as junior and if the junior and development squad provides the athletes with the right tools to make it to the top. From this perspective it’s okay to ask questions. A lot of science especially from Cotè and colleges, Bloom, and Güllich tell us that we have to be careful with doing a selection like this. Maybe other factors are more important?

Still it’s possible to get in a position to become a top-level orienteer without making the Norwegian squad as a junior and the first years a senior. I’ll take a look a examples from Norwegian orienteering, that is up to date. I’ve contacted Bjørn Ekeberg and Heidi Bagstevold, to ask them about their way from junior to senior. For sure you can argue about which level you have to have before you are at the elite level, and if Heidi and Bjørn have reached that level yet. Still their story is interesting because they both made the transfer from junior to senior successfully. In that perspective also because Heidi did’nt make the Norwegian national squad before her 3rd year as a senior and Bjørn only had one year in the junior squad and still not have made the senior team(hope he will make it next year). So Heidi and Bjørn did’nt take the “natural” way, but are now in a position to really achieve great results. I tried to ask them some questions, on how they managed to make this transfer.

How do you describe your strength when you performed as a junior?

Heidi – Selfconfident, taking time to do my orienteering.

Bjørn - Technique. I believe I was at my best when I focused on the orienteering, because that is what you can effect on the day of the competition. Still with good technical races, I didn’t make the top of the list.

If you should describe the way from junior to senior, what was the most difficult to adjust to?

H- The challenge in transferring to the long distance was tough.

B-the most difficult was to adjust to getting beaten quite hard. Even in good days I was way of. I realized that I needed to become better physically and that I needed to perform well to get a decent result.

How did you manage to motivate yourself the first years as a senior? What where your goals?

H- I had progression both in mastering skills and in results. To get picked out for the world cup and euromeeting motivated me. The training environment at Ås, motivated to aim high. I had no goal of results, but only in developing technically and physically.

B- I was prepared to give it some years before I could believe in results. I had a high goal to get selected to Euromeeting the first year, something I realized by performing well at the WOC-selections. To get to Euromeeting was motivating; esp. to run against runners from other nations and to learn form the others in the team. I also saw that I developed in the long distance and that motivated me to keep working harder.

If you should do a recap of the first years as a senior, what is the recipe for success?

H- Change of environment. Living at Ås made it easy to combine sport and education. Training with boys gave me better physical training. Being selected to international events; it gave motivation, expirence and sparring.

B-The main reason is that that I’ve been patient and believe that it took more than a season to get to a good level. I’ve developed slowly but always in the right direction(apart from injury and illness). I’ve always got good confirmation about my level and used it to become better in all aspects.

You participated in JWOC (Bjørn 2 times, Heidi 1 time). How important where that experience?

H-I believe, very important. I gave me good experience and motivation to aim for more.

B- It was important to compete against the best. And I’ve learned a lot from my process with trying to achieve in JWOC, even though the results were not that good. I’m not a person that gives up easily, but I use bad performances to learn and become better.

Which persons has been important for your development og which role have they played?

H- Persons from Kongsberg OL, whom has thought me orienteering and arranged camps and trainings in many years. My coaches in the national squad. Kjell Arild, my boyfriend and training companion, who has supported me. My parents; for economical support.

B- Tyrving is important. The elite group motivates each other to become better. The runners that I could look up to(Audun Weltzien, Anders Tiltnes and Torbjørn Sagberg), who has been giving good sparring. The focus on the relays has been important. Morten Christoffersen, Arne Tiltnes and Matthias Gilgien were important persons, who made it possible to aim high with Tyrving.

So what to learn from these two cases? Maybe nothing, maybe Bjørn and Heidi had developed to this level anyhow or maybe there are some ways that we can improve the chances for making it trough the first years as a senior. No matter what, the stories of athletes like Bjørn and Heidi need to be told for information and motivation for athletes that are in the start of the same road.

From a perspective in the organizational part of Norwegian orienteering, it’s important to think about these points; how the selections for international events, motivate the runners even if they don’t perform at them. That a long time work, is more important than top performances as a junior. That selection after junior age maybe should be done in another way, that focuses on the the talent of developing? or maybe no selection at all? That the environment in the development squad, should support development and have a long term perspective.

From a perspective of a young athlete who doesn't make the federation squad, it’s important to realize these points; Don’t let your physical level demotivate you, focus on performing your best on the day. Focus on slow and patient development, while maybe even getting a hell of a beating at the same time. Focus more on development than in results, but your results should motivate you to work better. The road is as wide as you make it.

For sure you can say that the Norwegian system works just as long as someone makes the level Heidi and Bjørn did? But I still believe that we can become better at picking out talents and provide them with a good environment through the federation. I do not have all the answer but some ideas. But for now I’ll rest my case, but I’ll get back later………..


fredag 14. oktober 2011

Sports psychology workshop in Jyväskylä, Finland

This week I've spend in Jyväskylä Finland, on a european workshop for young specialist in sports psychology. It's really nice to get to know other people in my age group, who has the same interest as me.

The topic of most of the presentations were how to develop young talents to elite level athletes. It's a very interesting topic and dayli my work at Wang toppidrett concerns theese challenges. I'm preparing some thought on that, which will appear on this side soon.

As a listener on the workshop I meet Jani Lakanen, who is working with the young runners in Finland. It's nice to see that Finnish orienteering take science seriously, something I believe Norwegian orienteering could learn from. Though there is less science done on orienteering, there is so much other science, that could be used and adapted from other sports. But more on this later, just a teaser now.

Topics to come; how to develop young runners? how does the best orienteers do there technical training? Why and how do we do testing in orienteering? with more!

fredag 30. september 2011

Training session this morning.

My goal as a coach, is to become one of the best in the world. For me that means, a really good theoretical knowlegde, but still being able to see where I'm lacking. Being able to put out theory into good practise, and make trainings that challenge the athletes development. To always strive for becomming better at what I do. And maybe most importent, seeing the difference from athlete to athlete and still being able to make posibilities for everyone to develop, even if there in a bigger group.

As a coach I'm mostly measured by the results "my" athletes perform. That's okay with me, because I wan't the athletes to succeed in that way also. Still I know results come from hard work and not from speaking big words. So if "my" athletes need to succeed, they need to work hard. They have to understand that it's up to them to work hard, because I can't do the trainings for them, but I can challenge them and guide them on there way.

To meet theese goals, I mostly enjoy working with 1 on 1 coaching, but it's also really fun working with a gruop and with group kohesion.

So this morning I did some 1 on 1 coaching. Following the runners in the forrest is a really good way to do that. Especially young athletes need to be coached when things are happening out in the forrest. They need to become aware of what they do well, and what they can improve. Use of camera during the session, with an evaluation afterwords is also a really good way to do this. Then the athlete has a chance to see them self in action, and in that way the awereness is easier to achive.

The traning today had, use of compass as the theme. As you can see I manipulated the map, to make it easier to focus on the compass. At some points I also erased the detail inside the ring. This is normally not the way I do compass training, but from the expirence that theese athletes did,nt read the control description, I made it like this. I believe that compass is a really importent tool to use when running orienteering, and I wan't "my" athletes to trust in that. If you don't trust your compass, why use it? Another state from me, when you use the compass be accurate or don't use it. Often I see runners not using the compass properly and again why use if you don't know where your getting. So in theese sessions, I hope in time that they will develop a really good feeling with the compass and become able to use it as a basic in there orienteering method.

So getting back to being able to succeed, you need to work hard. Sometimes working hard means to get out of your comfort zone. Today the session was so challenging, that it was hard for to do well all the way. I would never put up a session like this just before importent races, because you might loose some or alot of self confidence. But as a development training it's really good, but for sure remember to coach everyone after the session.

søndag 25. september 2011

New job!

So after the summer I have started a new job.

I'm now the orienteering coach for Wang toppidrett (a sports gymnasium).

We have 3 weekly trainings, that I plan. Apart from that my job is to help the students make good training plans and evaluate there training. This is a parttime job, so for me it's perfect to combine with my studies. Eivind Tonna had the job before me, and he has put up a good standard for the work. I hope to take it futher and maybe focus even more on the technical training. I believe that in age of 16-18 which the students have, it's really importent to get alot of technical traning, to put a good bacis. My goal for this autum is to make sure, that they have alot of different technical tools to use, while planning and executing a leg of the orienteering course.

So far it has been alot of fun and I really like working with young motivated athletes. The group is really dynamic, with alot of different personalities. I'm starting to get to know everyone and that's importent in my job. I know it's a good challenge to guide everyone in a good way, but I'm up for it, and I know that we are going to have some fun on the way. The level of students is really good, but there is still alot to work with. To be honest, I'm not really focusing on the results they perform right now. I'm focusing more on how much they can develop and maybe most importent, how much they wan't to develop. In Norway the posibilities of becoming a good orienteer is really great. So alot comes down to the induvidual athletes and if the take the consequence of the feedback they get from there training sessions and there performens. From working with some of the best, I know that it's not about how few mistakes you do. It's about searching to become better all the time and if you get a negative feedback, you take the consequence and become better at it. This does'nt mean that you only have to look for mistakes, you also have to know what youre good at, but don't be affraid making a mistake. Just my open thoughts on that, more to come.

Still to combine studies and traning like we do on Wang toppidrett, is something that I believe in, and I see it as a good posibility for youngsters to develop in a good way in an importent time of there life.

My own company

This year I have started a company. The purpuse is to do some small coaching jobs for clubs, groups or athletes and so far it has worked really well.

Here is a small comment on the jobs, I have done so far.

Anders Vister: This year Anders asked me to help him with his training. He is a really interesting athletes to work with and if he does his job the next years, it will be interesting to see how far he can get.

Nydalen SK: I have helped the club as being an advisor for some of the athletes. So far Nicole Ragvin has been the one who has used this offer. It's nice to help my old club.

Olav Lundanes: I have worked with Olav also this year. We have a talk every second month. In theese meetings we talk about everything concerning his training and life. Last year Olav became the world champion in long distance, and it has been really fun to work with him from the aged of 17 and then see him become the best in the world. I believe Olav have alot of good years in front of him.

Tue Lassen: For the second year I'm working with Tue on his Technical and mental development. It's motivating to work with Tue and we have a really good coorperation. It's also nice to give something back to Danish orienteering from where I grew up.

Fossum IF: In the spring I followed the talented runners from Fossum in the forrest and tried to give them some feedback on issues to work with technically. I made a project with using camera as feedback tool. It worked really well.

Lillomarka OL: I'm helping Lillomarka developing as a relay club. It's much fun to give my expirence from Halden to a upcoming club. I believe Lillomarka has understood that you have to work over time to become a relay club. So they take good expirence from each relay and maybe in time.....

NOF: I made a class for coaches in Norway on how I do the personal coaching. Nice to give away my thoughts. I also help NOF with making material for the trainer courses.

Vestfold O-krets: I used a day in Kongsberg with the juniors from Vestfold, working with the use of camera as feedback tool for technical development. The group was motivated and it was great fun. A really nice day, and I believe they could use the things I presented.

So if you or your club have some good ideas, but need help to start up. Just contact me, and I will se what I can do.


Studies in Oslo

Yes, I will try agian. Maybe this time, I will keep it up for a longer time.

The idea is to write some thoughts about orienteering.

Just to keep you updatet I will write some small articles about the last year in my life.

Since last I have quit the coaching job in Halden SK(1/11-2010) and started studying agian. I'm really pleased with my work in Halden and I believe that I put my fingerprint on the athletes and the club. Now I'm doing the masters course in sportspsychology on the Norwegian school of sport science in Oslo. I'm really glad for the study and I really believe that I'm becoming a better coach during this course. Also in time I wan't to work more with sportspsychology, and I think the timing is really good. Now, I just started the 2. year of the study. The first year of the study has been just alot of different classes, while the second year is just for writing my master thesis. I'm writing about motivational changes in a orienteering race and how it effects the result of the race. I will promise to write more about this later.