Random thought while eating dinner…
What kind of things might you ask your team members to do off of the court to ensure their top performance at an international event if you were a national junior team coach?
1) Ask those that had been to international events before to write an article for the rest of the team to read about their experience. Not the “how did I perform” article, but instead discussing the culture shock, the pressure, the exhaustion from the emotions, the feeling when the locals are all rooting for the other player, etc.
2) Ask those older players 16-21 to write an article about:
a) hydration / preventing cramps
b) getting the best sleep while away from home
c) nutrition while traveling, things to eat, things to avoid
d) managing exhaustion from international flights and time zone changes
e) managing exercise expectations at different elevations, or perhaps what to expect from the next international venue, i.e. Tarija, Bolivia
3) Ask the rest of the team (the younger ones in particular) to read those articles produced in 1&2, and then ask questions of the authors. 🙂
4) Ask the team to write a book review on a racquetball book (or section of the book), like Fran Davis’ Championship Racquetball:
or Aaron Palomino’s book Racquetball from Novice to Professional, if their first language is Spanish:
or for the younger players, to review just a specific chapter or three that you think would help their specific game.
(What other books would you recommend instead for a junior player?)
5) Ask the team to review a match or a short series of rallies, and explain what was good, what could have been better, etc. Perhaps something like this, but definitely shorter and more focused on a junior player or two.
* Certainly the goal with any of the writing assignments would be that they could be re-used for school assignments. I wouldn’t be grading them for grammar/spelling/etc. I would provide feedback AKA questions about what else they might have considered adding to the article or what resources they used to come to their conclusions.
** Ideally, the goal is to assist players in becoming their own best coaches and advocates for performing at the top levels when they get to the competition.
How many off-court assignments would be appropriate, and how many would be too much? (1 per month between acceptance on the team to the event?)
Which would you assign, or would you assign something completely different?
Would you assign any off-court work that was purely mental at all?