Well the last week has been quite quiet in terms of action.
We have shifted the focus of alot of the training sessions. Many of our training sessions throughout the summer have varied from an hour and a half to two hours in duration. As we hit the final week and a half prior to the worlds these volumes are cut by approximately half. The athletes will still have times during practice where they are reaching a lactic threshold but the goal is to not have large accumulations of fatigue. Recovery time betweens scrimmage (or intense drilling) bouts is increased. The goal is to have the wrestling be high quality execution (sharp and clean). Paradoxically alot of the times the athletes look forward to this "taper period" as the progress through the tough build up to the World championships. Yet when we begin to taper, the athletes often get a little restless, with the decreased volume. They are use to working very hard and have created an expectation mentally and physically for this. As the World Championships come into sight the athletes are forced into a mode of acceptance of their physical level of preparation (whether perfect or not), running through a wall in the last week leading into the worlds not will serve a purpose. Often times a great amount of that final week is spent mentally preparing and thinking about the event. Athletes reaffirm they are ready and will "put it all out, on the mat" on their day at the worlds!
One of the speeches I listened to this past year was Marcel Lacroix a National Speedskating coach for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. His speech was filled with highs and lows of Olympic success and failure, it was really great. One of the most interesting things they did leading into Vancouver was take their athletes to Las Vegas to watch the Cirque du Soleil performers in daily training. The idea was, they need to be able to perform flawlessly on demand. A loss of focus, or having a bad day, simply means someone is going to get seriously hurt, so it CAN NOT happen. They then went to the show to watch the same performers, execute their stunts infront of a packed theatre. Infact, they were expected to perform flawlessly around a dozen times per week! So asking athletes to have a great (or peak) performance is not asking the impossible. They created an interesting Acronym for there team, TNT! We all know that TNT is the symbol for dynamyte which is powerful, explosive stuff. What it stood for was "Today, not Tomorrow", a reminder that your event is a one day thing, its up to you to execute and make it happen on THAT day. Pretty cool way to think about it.
That is the stage many of our athletes are in... as there bodies begin to really recover from the fog of heavy training they begin to see and feel the possibility of TNT. They think about it alot through the summer months but in this final week they are finally hitting the state where they can believe in the ability to reach the podium!!!
We leave tomorrow, and I for one am really getting excited!!!