Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Variety (and harai goshi) are the spice of training center life

So, here is how it ends up (photo at right) - harai goshi: sweeping hip throw.

Since Victor Ortiz and Gary Butts had both headed up to the National Novice and Brown Belt Championships, only Tony Comfort and I were left home to run practice at the West Coast Judo Training Center on Saturday. Several of the players, Yazmin, Rachel, Sam and Amber were competing, along with Gavin, Tuoi and Eddie from Goltz's. With only 14 of us left behind it was a great opportunity to work on technique.

This is one of the needs the training center was designed to meet, enough coaches and few enough players to work on all of those little nuances of technique. Julia, Harout, Crystal and Elanette all use harai goshi in competition regularly. Tony worked on getting a dominant grip to begin.

Next, he emphasized getting your right foot (in right harai) placed correctly in front of your opponent's foot. He also emphasized the importance of getting your center of gravity lower than your opponent's.

Several times, he demonstrated each part of the throw, had the athletes practice on their own doing first uchikomi, then throws on the mat, then throws on the crash pad. Then he called everyone back and demonstrated again, correcting any errors.

Yes, I taught some stuff, too, but this post isn't about me or Tony or even harai goshi. It is about the training center and the fact that we do have short-term and long-term goals. In the short-term it is to work with each athlete individually to build on what they gain at their home club during the week, to correct any weaknesses we see, and, in the case of Julia, Harout, Erik, Elanette and Crystal this weekend, work on their strengths. In the long-run, we are aiming to build international players. In China, if you believe the LA Times, which I generally do, children are taken from their families and trained in sports schools from the age of 7. I don't advocate that but I am in favor of training talented youngsters with a long-term view.

Ronda and I talk about her coaching at the training center in the fall and I know she has some definite ideas as far as drill training, gripping, conditioning and standing techniques she wants to teach. Before September comes, we want most of the players to have several solid throwing and matwork techniques that they can do fluidly. They will have a basic understanding of gripfighting, how to break a sleeve grip, how to break a lapel grip, how to block a high grip. In short, they will have the building blocks. All of the older players will have a couple of good armbars.From last September until now, if you look at the players' judo, conditioning and attitude, they have taken a step up. From this September to next year, with the addition of our new coach, they will take another step.

Champions are made, not born and this is how you make them, one step at a time.

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