Watch a video from the training camp
Earlier this month the Tennis Foundation's Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programme Team headed out to La Manga Club for a warm weather training camp with players and their individual coaches.
Hear from Rob Cross, who was on the trip and coaches quad world No.5 and Beijing 2008 medallist Jamie Burdekin.
All days of the La Manga trip started with observing the on court Physical Preparation session with Nick Cooper, who is the programme's Strength & Conditioning Coach from the English Institute of Sport. These have been great sessions to watch and I have gained more of an understanding as to what the players need to prepare them for a coaching/hitting session. As individual coaches, it is important for us to help with this process and take more charge of the preparation. This should produce better habits and improve the overall quality. I have to admit that I probably take it a little too easy with my player's warm-up, so he is in for a shock the next time we hit the practice court!
The last session of each day was a strength and conditioning session for players with Nick Cooper. This was in the gym local to the courts. Although Jamie had been struggling with his back recently, Nick concentrated on certain stretches to try and help with releasing some of the pressure and talked me through the process. This was invaluable information for me and will enable me to assist with Jamie's pre- and post-session stretching. I do believe that those are the little things that really help us individual coaches and make us more confident in our approach to teaching the game.
Here's me and Jamie before a tough session!
Every coach had the opportunity during the trip to spend an on court session collaborating with Karl Steptoe, who is the programme's Sports Psychologist. I found Karl being on court a very useful exercise. He could see Jamie in action and assess his mental approach and decision making while being under pressure. Unfortunately, because of Jamie hitting a target set out for him, I was forced to do a large number of press-ups as a forfeit, something I think Karl really enjoyed watching me do!
There was also some time set aside for match practice against other quad players. It is great when the players can play against each other because it is realistic hitting and we get to see them competing against a similar standard opponent.
One of the highlights for me was the evening that we all had dinner in one of the function rooms at the hotel. It's nice when everyone is together as you get to chat and share ideas with the staff and other coaches. Coincidentally, after dinner we played a table tennis doubles tournament, for which my partner was fellow coach Kate Green. Just to let you know.....WE WON!!!!
Looking back at each day of La Manga, I found the organisation of the camp second to none. When things are arranged this well, it makes it far easier to focus on the task in hand which is to get some quality training time with your players. With the expertise and knowledge of the staff, any advice you might need is always to hand. I look forward to working with the team in the future and can't thank them enough.
And I know other coaches on the trip also really enjoyed it, including Tom Pocock, who coaches Lauren Jones: "From a personal point of view my aims for the trip of interacting with the group, gleaning new and usable knowledge in specific areas, and learning better the requirements and expectations of my player, have been met. I'd like to thank all those involved in organising, and who were part of the trip, for making it such a useful and enjoyable few days."
Here is Tom in action on court
So overall a great trip and I'm looking forward to the rest of 2014 with Jamie competing all over the world and hopefully recreating his recent success of beating World No.1 David Wagner.
P.S. Did I mention I won the table tennis tournament?!