Friday, January 6, 2017

Agility, what does it take?

I haven't posted in a while.  I suspect because my brain has been really busy with some deep learning this last year and I haven't processed all the great info and put it in it's place.  I am not there yet, but I think little thoughts are beginning to eek out anyway.

For my students I ponder this question a lot, "what does it take to accomplish your goals in agility?"

There are so many levels of desired achievement, from weekend warrior to National/World Champion, but they all probably have the same fundamentals as an ingredient.  Perhaps the thing that varies is the level of proficiency that you and your dog have in each of these areas.

Hoot doing what she loves

Foundation skills for the dog
Foundation skills for the human
Dog training skills
Handling skills
Fitness and coordination for you and your dog
Mental Management for you and your dog
Resilience, both you and the dog
And mileage as a team

So when my students say to me, "I want to improve my Q rate", we have to evaluate all of these things and decide which areas to focus on.  To Q, you have to at least bring all of these fundamental together for at least one very important minute of your life.  It doesn't mean that you have to go bat-shit-crazy becoming an expert on each of these things, but it does mean you have to focus slightly more than you have been on one or more areas to accomplish your goal.

I, on the other hand do work all of these skills, at one time or another intensely because I am bat-shit-crazy for agility.  I love agility, I love teaching, and I love the learning process.  I have purposefully worked with some of the best in the world to learn this art. 

My current obsession is Mental Management in Agility, which I will describe as "the art of bring all your team's skills to the table at the same time to create amazing results."  Sounds easy, not so easy!

This area sounds like one focused area of concentration, it's not.  There are so many aspects to it and so many variables that affect it.  I am working on my second year as a student of this topic and am just beginning to learn how to incorporate it into my classes. 

For my students my goal is to incorporate this into their learning process, make it incidental in some ways, but always keep it fun.