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Swimming Workshop
30 November 2013

After their participation in a workshop held at the Department of Sport and Recreation headquarters on the last day of November, seven Swimming WA athletes have now graduated from phase two of the Developing Champions program.  

The workshop - which was the final one in a series of four - covered the advanced elective topics of Communication; Me, You, Everyone; and Mental Skills.  

To highlight the importance of communication in the coach/athlete relationship, athletes were shown a clip from the movie The Blind Side, which included an example of poor communication, followed immediately by an example of effective communication. 

We discussed in some detail the best approach for carrying out a post-race debrief, with each athlete showing a good awareness of his or her preferences.  

The lecture included a brief look at four different behavioural styles (DISC model) and why it is helpful to understand the different styles in order to communicate effectively with others 

Athletes were split into small groups and had three minutes in which to build the highest possible tower, using just uncooked spaghetti strands and different coloured marshmallows. It was a fun way of illustrating different communication and leadership styles. And, the apricot, pink and white fluffy lollies also provided for a tasty snack once the three minutes were up.  

Following a short break for lunch, athletes returned to the learning environment for the final segment of the day.  

At this time, we discussed in depth the importance of understanding and appreciating one’s own pre-task routine; i.e. the sequence of events that s/he would go through immediately prior to standing on the blocks for a swimming race.  

Athletes were asked to stand up and carry out the movements, stretches and any other quirky or not-so-quirky exercises that they consistently performed before a race at a major competition. The first time they performed this ‘ritual’ with their eyes open, the second time with their eyes closed. And the third time, athletes were instructed to simply imagine themselves performing the pre-task routines from a seated position. Finally, athletes were asked to write down exactly what they consistently did between entering the marshalling area and stepping up to the blocks. 

We laughed at a You Tube clip of Novak Djokovic impersonating the pre-task routines of some famous tennis players, including Maria SharapovaLleyton Hewitt, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.  

All the athletes involved in the workshop had a good understanding about the importance of the topics we covered, and they were keen and committed participants.

Story by Amber Bradley, Ex-WAIS Rower, Olympian.

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