Coach's Corner Blog
Every month Coach Toni Minichiello will share his thoughts and insights into Jessica's progress and the challenging times ahead in the lead up the London 2012 Olympics.
Track and field covers a wide variety of events, from triple jump to shot-put, and each one demands a different set of physical and mental attributes from an athlete. The 100m relies on speed and stamina, hurdles require agility and javelin combines strength with balance and technique.
This diversity means there is an event to suit almost everyone, but how can you find the right one for you?
It might be the winner who takes all the applause once they cross the finish line, but behind every successful athlete there is a top class coach offering support, inspiration and guidance. It is their job to motivate an athlete and keep them striving for excellence.
But what does the role of a coach actually entail and how do they help athletes compete at the highest level?
What is the role of a Coach, one definition is,
"Coaching in its truest sense is giving the responsibility to the learner
to help them come up with their own answers."
- Vince Lombardi
The difficulty being a "giver" is that you need someone to give to, or at least, to someone who has the motivation to receive. After the Olympic win, the fulfilment of a dream, it's difficult for the performer to find that motivation.
The dust having finally settled it's time to reflect on the Olympics before starting the next season.
Just judging the facts and figures alone, the third highest winning margin in Olympic history 304 points, National records at the start and finish of the heptathlon, 100mH in 12.54 seconds, also represents the fastest time ever run in a heptathlon, a world record of sorts.
Peaking to perfection on the Olympic stage with a National Record of 6955, ranking Jessica the 5th best of all time. Throw in personal bests in the 200m and Javelin and there is a lot in there to make even this coach smile.
The London Olympic Heptathlon represents the highest standard competition ever. And Jessica's score would have won all previous Olympic Heptathlons bar 1988 & 92 won by the world record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee, an athlete that broke the 7,000 point barrier 6 times, (the top 6 best performances ever).
Maybe I should reflect on the season 4 British Records in 3 events adding 124 points to the British Heptathlon Record as well as being the fastest European sprint hurdler, World ranked number 1 for the 3rd time in 4 seasons, and all this while carrying the mantle of the face of the games and the expectation that goes with that accolade.
Emotionally for me as a coach again, the happiness or should I say relief lasted the usual 35 minutes. Before coming back to earth with a "what next?" thud. Maybe that's a result of the 4 hours sleep between the competition days before having to quickly pack my bags and leave the Olympic village the next day to make room for the next coach coming in.
Time to indulge in self. The job is done, and the personal ambition achieved, Coach to an Olympic Gold Medalist and a 14 year journey from the beginning of their athletic pathway to the top, a journey seldom travelled. "From Beginner to Winner".
Follow Toni on twitter @Coach_Toni
The position we’re in at the moment, just over three weeks until Jess begins the heptathlon competition in London, is a good one. We were pleased with her display in her final event before the Olympics last weekend in Loughborough.
Jess’s performance on the runway in the long jump was a lot better and while we’d have wanted a few more centimetres in the javelin it was still close to 45 metres, which is what she’s been consistently throwing.
People talk about pressure, but what is it? And what does it mean in the coach's role?
One possible definition of pressure is an invisible thing that consumes an athlete just at the moment when they need to perform at their highest. I have seen it described by Steve Backley as the "shadow of performance", as if the pressure consumes you in a darkness. But shadows are nothing more that tricks of the light and I suppose pressure is no more than the mind playing tricks on the body.
Pressure can be the accumulation of a number of things - anxieties, stress, a hormonal response to a stressful event, and even the bodies self protection, (freeze, flight, fight, response). What I am certain is that it tends to be more in the mind, than in the body.