Post Run Note Taking

14 Feb 2009Steve Schwarz

At a recent trial I was talking with agility pal and local trainer Ashlee Trotter after her run and was intrigued by her after run note taking. She does two things to help her get the most out of each competition run.

What Went Right?

After each run Ashlee writes down the three best aspects of each run right on the course map. She then puts the course map in a binder for future reference. So as the year progresses she can look back through the courses and see the improvements she and Spirit have made.

It is so easy to pick out the negatives of a run and loose track of our improvements and successes. First solid start line stay with a two jump lead out? Straight 2o2o contact when you peeled away? Stayed in the weaves as you Front Crossed Front CrossLearning the Front Cross the exit? Took the jump when you fell down :^)

Ashlee’s writing down three positives is a very Lanny-esque thing to do. But I certainly buy into it. You want to be able to look at those three things you’ve written down and imprint into your mind: “It is like us to do that”. Focusing on the negatives does nothing to move you forward.

What Were the Challenges?

The other interesting thing Ashlee does is write any interesting or challenging segments of the course onto index cards. Her goal is to always have a short training sequence that she can work on. So in training sessions she can reach into her training bag, pull out a card, move a couple obstacles and work on a sequence that she knows was challenging.

This is even better than my Pick Up Sticks course design approach since it works an area where you know you are challenged. It is all too easy to setup a Box The Jump Box in Course DesignBox/Hobday Box/Jump Box/Jump SquareJump Box DrillsDo It Yourself Box Jump SequencesDouble Box Sequence GeneratorJump Box Drill GeneratorDouble Box SequencesNew Jump Box Sequence GeneratorStar Box Sequence GeneratorStar Box Sequences, Serpentine Serpentine SequenceSerpentine Handling Techniques or Threadle Threadle SequenceMary Ellen Barry on Threadle HandlingThe Connection Between Threadles and Back SidesTraditional Threadle HandlingSingle Sided Threadle Handling sequence and train in our comfort zones.

I’m calling these sequences “snippets”. They could be as short as two obstacles. (Judging by the start line issues some teams have when starting with the tire, chute or tunnel they could even be a single obstacle). I have some already in mind and you’ll see them posted in the coming weeks.

So Does it Work?

Well it certainly works for her. Ashlee and her “wild child” Spirit qualified for the AKC Invitationals this past year. During the Invitationals they earned their way into the finals. I also believe Spirit is the top ranked German Wirehaired Pointer in the US. Their accomplishments are a testament to Ashlee’s relentlessly upbeat attitude, dedication to working through Spirit’s exuberant adolescence, and I’ll bet assisted by this note taking approach.

Not everyone has the discipline to maintain a training journal. I think a variation of Ashlee’s approach might be something for more of us to try.

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