Coach's Corner Blog
Every month Coach Toni Minichiello will share his thoughts and insights into Jessica's progress and the challenges in coaching an Olympic athlete.
People talk about pressure, but what is it? And what does it mean in the coach's role?
One possible definition of pressure is an invisible thing that consumes an athlete just at the moment when they need to perform at their highest. I have seen it described by Steve Backley as the "shadow of performance", as if the pressure consumes you in a darkness. But shadows are nothing more that tricks of the light and I suppose pressure is no more than the mind playing tricks on the body.
Pressure can be the accumulation of a number of things - anxieties, stress, a hormonal response to a stressful event, and even the bodies self protection, (freeze, flight, fight, response). What I am certain is that it tends to be more in the mind, than in the body.
All the talk in the lead up to the World Indoor Championships was about the re-match between Chernova and Ennis, the chance for revenge, the result giving the other an edge leading into the Olympics. To most it was mistakenly, just a two-horse race.
In the end the rivalry fizzled for three events of the pentathlon and it was the Olympic Champion, a sleeping giant of a nemesis that came through to win. Dobrynska.
The National Indoor Championships are just about to start and the first major target set for Jessica is just a short 4 weeks away, the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
It seems to be a global championships that’s largely been ignored by most of the media, and this isn’t solely restricted to the sport of athletics, it seems to be the case with all sports. The questions have all been about London, and the Indoor season being a preparation for London.
The Indoor season and indoor performances in reality have little bearing on the summer championships in any year, and in 2012 it will be no different. A win or a loss in Istanbul will not guarantee you the same result in the Olympics less than 5 months later. In fact a win indoors doesn’t even guarantee you selection for the Olympics.
So why do it?
Christmas time and the New Year holiday period are for most people a bit of a break from work. A time when people tend to eat and drink more than they should. But have a small consideration for the athlete who can’t help but be distracted by all the food and fun goings on.
There is a common idea that only the truly dedicated athlete will train on Christmas day, the truth is, that if you plan properly you can have Christmas day as a rest day. However, wherever possible I try to keep the training routine as normal as possible, not wanting to miss a technical or physical session.
For myself as a coach it’s more a period of inconvenience and a break in the training routine with facilities closing as they do on Bank Holidays.
Winter preparations have begun and the first six weeks of training have come and gone. The clocks have gone back and as nights draw in you feel the harsh reality of the winter training slog.
We see reminders on websites of the BOA and UK Sport, even in local newspapers there are countdowns to the start of the Olympics, as a coach I have my own.
In total there are 44 training weeks for Jessica to the Olympics. A total of 246 training days, taking into account all the planned rest days. That clock has now ticked down to 38 weeks, equaling 210 training days left.
It is with experience that I understand, that I really do understand, I have to wait for the dust to completely settle before I can ever be affective in reflection.
It would be so easy to review the World Championships and miss out the rest of the season.
Even on the flight home I was writing notes about technical changes, drills to add and enhance training plans for next winter. The inquest had begun.
Looking back on the whole season, there were personal bests in 100mH of 12.79 seconds, the second fastest time by a British woman. There was a 200m personal best of 23.11 secs, a time only 24 British women have bettered. A Shot Putt PB of
We have seen what can only be described as an average start from Jessica here at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
I say average because we expect so much from her. To be leading from start to finish and smiling all they way.
In reality it is a little down on her personal best performance in Barcelona last year where she ran 12.95 secs and high jumped 1.89m to have a score of 2225 points. Here Jessica has run 12.94 secs (hitting more hurdles than I've ever seen) and high jumped 1.86m, the difference is that she is in 2nd place with 2187pts, a gap of 38 points.