When heading back to competition season after an extended break, even if it’s been forced upon you (COVID Quarantine or injury-related), there’s a definite checklist of things you need to make sure you have covered. The top two on the list are Physical conditioning and Mental preparation. If you want to see the complete checklist, go to eliciacalhoun.com to get your copy.
1. Make sure that you have a SOLID Conditioning program that includes Cardiovascular, Strength and Flexibility components for both you and your dog! This includes a game plan for ramping up fitness levels to competition level in a reasonable period so that your team is ready to compete. You simply cannot expect any athlete to perform well if they are not in shape for their sport. More importantly, you risk injury which could force additional ‘downtime’. So if you’re unsure how to put a plan together for this, consider connecting with a Canine Rehab Specialist to get a baseline assessment of your dog’s fitness level and let them create the right plan with the correct timing for your first show.
2. After the craziness of the recent pandemic, with so much confusion and uncertainty, we are definitely stepping into unknown territory regarding what our new ‘normal’ will be. However, one thing holds true regarding life as well as competing in dog agility. You MUST have a Positive MINDSET if you want to succeed. You’ve got to know who you are, where you want to go and enjoy the little things along the way. There are additional elements to the Mental Preparation, but focusing on Mindset during this period of transition will be the most helpful when first starting back to competition.
I, for one, am constantly reminded just how short life is and have learned to appreciate what I have while I have it. And although this COVID Craziness has impacted life as we know it around the globe, I have come to appreciate the quality time that I’ve had these past few months. It has given me a chance to reevaluate my priorities, where I spend my time and how I live each day. I will definitely be more mindful in committing myself to things that are in direct alignment with my purpose. I am looking forward to adding things back into my schedule slowly and deliberately to make sure that I maintain this sense of calm.
So, how does all of this relate to agility and what advice do I have for competitors heading back into competition?
Well, I’d recommend that rather than spending their time blindly running from one competition to another, that they be more deliberate in what events they choose to enter and what they want to get from them. For example, instead of just going for as many ‘Q’s’ as possible, pick the select events they want to really ‘compete’ at, and use the time between for training. That might include shows where they can test skills that they’ve been building these past few months. Decide on big events to work towards and determine what is required to qualify and compete at them. This should provide them with a goal to work towards and the ability to build out the steps to achieving this goal.
There is so much uncertainty in the scheduling of future events that not only is it important to have a Goal to focus on, but also have the Growth mindset in learning to adapt to change as it happens. As we all know, agility requires that we be flexible both in body and in mind as we ‘Go with the Flow’.
We WILL get through this pandemic successfully! And, if we are smart in how we go about it, it will be sooner rather than later. So, take advantage of this slower pace to build your skills, strengthen your teamwork and create routines that empower you to achieve your Peak Performance when you DO get back into the ring!
2014 Cynosport Champions: BreeSea (11 yrs) Veteran Grand Prix Champion and daughter Tobie (5 yrs) 26” Grand Prix Champion in Morgan Hills, CA.