This week we announced the names of the dogs and handlers we’re inviting on to this years development programme. This is an exciting opportunity for these handlers, but also one which involves focus, dedication and dare I say hard work…for them!
The first trial of a development programme started four years ago when I felt that the squad process could miss handlers with future potential who weren’t winning at KC Premier shows. Since then I’ve tweaked the programme each year, learning from the previous and increasing the focus on the performance required at international competitions . We’re all aiming for a more rounded development of the agility partnership.
How do I measure the success of the programme?
Each year a number of handlers on the programme have been selected for one of the teams. This years teams have no less than six partnerships who started their international competitions for team GB through the 2018 development programme. This tells me we’re ’spotting’ the right people and supporting them on the programme towards selection.
How does the programme work?
There are currently three areas I’m looking at for the development programme:
- Firstly, there are dogs who we (the Coaching Team and our Spotters) notice around the agility circuit who we consider could be future team potential. These dogs have something special about them usually incredibly fast, eager and responsive.
- Secondly there are handlers noticed who with help, guidance, support, their hard work and dedication we believe could make the team one day.
- Thirdly there are those handlers who have proved in the past that they have what it takes to stand on the podium at the top FCI competitions. We want to get their young dogs on the programme and help them on their journey (more about the journey to international competition in my next blog).
So who are these ‘spotters’?
I have two coaching teams who between them have a wealth of experience in their respective fields…that’s why they’re on the coaching team. They know what skills are required to stand on the podium. I also ask the team captains to keep an eye open for partnerships they think have potential too. And there are handlers who have competed at FCI competitions in the past who let me know if someone they’ve seen is on our radar too. I believe we have good coverage around the major competitions where these handlers are likely to be.
Sometimes a particularly fit, fast and focused agility dog is spotted who’s handler has never considered international competition. Occasionally a handler is spotted who it turns out has come from a sporting background and has many of the fitness, mental and physical attributes needed to compete successfully internationally. And sometimes I just get a gut feeling about a partnership. There is something about their performance which makes them standout above the rest. My gut has been right a few times… and wrong too.
What do you mean by potential?
In today’s competitive world having what it takes to get to the top of your sport takes more than luck and being in the right place at the right time; those days are long gone. Today’s top sports people work hard at doing the right things that will increase their potential of being spotted for the future or increase their chances of winning.
There is no magic formula (not that I’m aware of) apart from hard work, commitment and dedication. People who understand this increase their potential of being spotted or getting noticed on the top scoreboards. There is a separate debate about talent, that’s another blog for another day.
Having a laser sharp focus on future aspirations brings your goals, plans and ambitions to the forefront creating energy and motivation. It’s this energy and motivation that shines through in the form of potential. However, it has to be backed up by results.
In today’s society we’re encouraged to be positive, enthusiastic and always look on the bright side. We’re bombarded with motivational quotes believing they will work some kind of magic and everything will be fantastic. I hope I’m not the bearer of bad news, but these things don’t work on their own. Success comes down to hard work, commitment and dedication to generating the results.
So what do I mean about having the potential is a difficult question to answer succinctly. But when I work with people who are successful in their chosen field I can see what makes them standout.