Kapiti Observer : January 3rd 2013
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QUEEN STREET SURGERY 50 QUEEN STREET WEST, LEVIN 8 THURSDAY, JANUARY 3, 2013 Mind over matter a winning routine Preparation: Brian Fowler says he always stuck to his routines before race day. Being prepared in every way for a major sporting event can be the difference between success and failure. Reporter ANDREW MACKAY explores what it takes to prepare for competition day. ' The best players go through a continuous cycle of training and competing then tweak what didn't work. ' Dave Hadfield In an ordinary room in the Com- monwealth Games event village, top New Zealand cyclists Brian Fowler, Gavin Stevens, Graeme Miller and Ian Richards planned their assault on the team time trial the next day. Picking off different scenarios, they prepared for different even- tualities and ran through their plan. The next day in a blistering time of two hours and six minutes, they completed the time trial and crossed the line winning the gold medal in front of a cheering home Auckland crowd. It was 1990. One of New Zealand's most recognised riders, Brian Fowler, 50, says from his home in Christchurch he knew what rou- tine worked. We kept to the routine,'' he says. The simpler it is the less that can go wrong.'' This year, Fowler gave the Tour of Southland a crack, a demanding event that he has won eight times. In an event like no other where riders often encounter rain, hail, snow, cross winds and all sorts of obstacles, what does it take to prepare? Fowler says of the years he won he didn't ride the course before the tour but knew the roads, they were his backyard. You just know what you're here to do,'' he says of his preparation. If you have the backing of your team-mates, you know the support's there.'' And if it does happen a rider is in the right position to strike then he had better come up with the goods, he says. Endurance sports demand an element of toughness and some cyclists say the difference between winning and second place or beyond is the top two per cent''. With multitudes of advice about training, nutrition, diet, weight loss, equipment, aerody- namics, and positioning, mental training for that top two per cent is often left in the background. But top professional teams are now taking mental skills train- ing seriously. Wellington-based sports psychologist and founder of MindPlus, Dave Hadfield has worked with numerous teams from the Hurricanes, the Cru- saders, the Blues, to the Black Ferns, England Rugby Union and the Wellington Firebirds. He also spent 18 months with the New Zealand track cycling team and our medal-winning pursuit team. Pain is subjective,'' he says. You can apply the same amount of force to two individu- als and it will be interpreted differently.'' Those at the top of their game don't necessarily train differen- tly, they may just do more. We only see a fraction of the preparation, Mr Hadfield says. The vast majority is below the surface.'' For example, the pursuit team operate right on the cusp of maximum sustainable effort. So how do you train those below the surface'' skills? Mr Hadfield says he has a toolbox of tasks that help man- age weaknesses. The best players go through a continuous cycle of training and competing then tweak what didn't work. Clearing the decks'' is one method of preparation. He tells players to imagine a ship's deck cluttered with ropes, pulleys and other objects, and picture how difficult it would be to work on this deck. Then he tells them to imagine a deck where everything is cleared. It's the same with your mind.'' Clear away stresses or wor- ries, like problems at home, that could affect performance. Another set of tasks he works through with athletes is ticking the boxes''. Athletes should be able to work through all the boxes, tech- nical, tactical, nutrition, mental and physical, and tick off what they have done. They systematically work through each thing they need, a game plan for example, have worked on their race techniques, race tactics, nutrition, diet, hydration and routines. The key was to focus and have prepared in every way they could, he said.
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