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Forum Home > General Discussion > 2012 Europeans....thoughts?

John C. Fry
Site Owner
Posts: 46

Fair play to Max Rothwell and Harry Hoare for putting themselves on the line in Hungary in the Junior A category at the European Championships.  Harry's gained the highest position with 13th in the 500m. 

Not many people will realise this but these Championships were the first time that Great Britain failed to have any senior representation since the first European Championship was held back in Inzell, Gernany in 1967.

Question...where as a nation do we go from here?  Will we ever be competitive again on an international scale?  Do we even have a future?

Thoughts and comments welcome...

July 30, 2012 at 6:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Mark Simnor
Member
Posts: 8

Hi John,


Its only correct that I put a response to your question as performance director and I believe it’s a healthy debate and something people should feel strongly about.


Both Max and Harry again represented GB very well this year andlooking at the results, both skaters are making progress towards their goals inour sport. They were not the only skaters to have been selected to represent us this year, however, for one or another reason they are the only skaters able to represent us this year.


We had selected a senior skater to race both Europeans and Worlds,however, they had not been able to attend either of the events.


We have some fantastic young skaters coming through the sport from allour clubs. I think the future is looking good and now is the time to invest in these young skaters to help them achieve their full potential. With this inmind our sport needs to grow and we need everyone to pull together and take on roles in and around the sport. If we can grow the sport generate revenue and increase our membership, this will assist our current skaters in a number of ways. FISS needs volunteers not only committee members and officials, we need people to assist in looking for sponsorship and many other none committee roles. With this in mind I will be asking again for people to come forward in an e-mail we will be sending out soon.


While I understand we need to field a national team to all major events, this shouldn’t mean it’s an automatic selection process for anyone who can afford to go. My dream for years is to have a team that’s funded and every skater from every back ground should have the opportunity to race for GB. This still means earning the right to put yourself on the start line with the European and world best. The current selection process is basic with the need to attend squad training sessions and meet minimum selection times isn’t something new ina selection process for a national team. Every year I release a plan at the AGM with regards to selection and this year I want to include a basic fitness test prior to squad sessions. The reason for these checks is so our skaters all havea fair chance of selection that’s based on fact. the 300m time is there so skaters even in a 10k can get off the start line and have a fighting chance of working their way up the pack. The 1000m rolling time is to assist in looking at a skaters sustained top speed again showing they have a chance of keeping up with the speed of a pack even over distances. I have had questions why am I focusing on sprint distances, however, I am sure you are aware if you can’t meet these minimum times you won’t last 5 laps of even the longest distances.So my next step is to look at fitness especially when our skaters are now starting to get into the top 20 against a European class field. The whole selection process is developing and is always open for change every year.Mistakes in this process have been made and will still happen as it’s an evolving process. However the selection criteria was developed from other successful Olympic sports.


If this means skaters does not compete at Euros and Worlds in the short term so enabling a more focused approach to training, then I feel this has to be progress? Over the last few years its becoming increasingly apparent that a stronger approach is needed as there are still skaters who believe they can compete on a basic level of fitness. Technique has always been something that’s needed to be looked at, however, this needs to be addressed at a Club level rather than national. I am happy with the progress at club level as from what Iam seeing a number of clubs are working hard in this area. Its apparent lookingat a number of our younger skaters from Junior A downwards this is improving at every level of our sport.


As shown again this year we need coaches, parents, skaters who havethe time and finances to assist. We have been very lucky for the last couple of years with a few parents being able to assist in taking our teams away. Not to forget National Team Manager Sharon Tongue who is funding the trips she takes the teams on by herself. This isn’t anything new but we shouldn’t be expecting our coaches to use their own money in taking our skaters away. As previously mentioned FISS needs people to assist in a number of ways and running events,fund raising, looking for sponsorship is just a few things that could help this.


So yes we do have a future and yes certainly in the next 5 years we will make large strides towards being competitive again at international level.This may mean in the short term we shift our focus away from the major internationals and focus on events like Euro Cups. This doesn’t mean we won’t take teams away to the major competitions just that we more international competition that we can get from the Euro Cup events.


Final note, If you think you have something to give whether that’s time or you want to come on the committee then please drop me an e-mail. If you have feelings on the selection process or want to get involved in any area ofthe sport then please again drop me an email     fiss.vicechairman@gmail.com


Many thanks John for the questions and I know you want others to make comments and as mentioned at the start I expect them as people should feel strongly about this.


Kind regards,

Mark

 

July 30, 2012 at 8:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

snail
Member
Posts: 13

Thanks Mark for that thoughtful reply.

I was very pleased at the level of skating produced by both Harry and Mark at the European Championship, so well done boys!

However when I look around your website John it does make me sad to see the large teams that we used to field. For a long time now we have been producing one or two talented skaters who have found difficulty shining because, beyond the shorter, less crowded races there is a need for a team to enable success. We have all seen a single skater passed down a line of a larger team working together. James Ashby was a case in point - an incredibly talented long distance skater but all alone in those enormous fields with little equivalent support I felt he did not shine as well as he could have done at international level.

 I do disagree about the importance of skating technique versus fitness though Mark. I think that many of our skaters are very fit - the skaters at Wheels for example train at least 3 times a week, weather permitting. Generally speaking our fastest and best skaters have the best technique. Bad technique means inefficient skating, which in itself brings extra effort and proness to injury. As you know I am no expert, but that's just common sense. Technique needs to be taught alongside fitness (and core fitness, not just racing practise, for higher level skaters).  I don't think any other sport would be reconciling technique development to club level. Where there are expert skaters that may be fair enough, but how can new or emergent speedskating teams learn expertise from themselves? Even our very best club coaches need to keep up to date with the latest developments in the sport internationally, surely?


That's all for now,

Snail


July 31, 2012 at 8:55 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Mark Simnor
Member
Posts: 8

 

Hi Snail,

 

Many thanks for your thoughts and to respond to a few of your points as follows.

 

Maybe I should have explained myself a little bit further when mentioning leaving the technical work to the clubs. You have to remember our sport has a good set of club coaches who have been coaching for many years.With this in mind and that our squad sessions are only once a month a focus directly on technique needs to be in an environment that’s is consistent.  When I say consistent I mean in sessions that are more frequent than once a month. Unfortunately as previously mentioned our rescores either that be people or funding doesn’t give us the ability to hold them more frequently. We do work on technique a tsquad training sessions and development squad training; in particular Sharon Tongue works hard with the Development Squad, Cadet and Junior B teams. While this work is important we have to remember we are there to asses and select a national team.

 

You mention training 3 times a week being a good amount of training. I’m sure many people coaches and others have thoughts on this. I myself trained 3 times a week getting ok success in national contests for example junior BritishChampion. Then put me on the start line with a team of 3 skaters which is the maximum at a Junior Europeans and I was 2nd to last if I was lucky. Even at this point as a cadet at the age of 14 I understood training 3 times a week wasn’t enough. Ok technique was needed at this point which I received from my club coach John Fry. I would never have expected to get this technical work from a squad training session that would have been setup to asses me. I still believe that we need a national development programme which we have the beginnings of with the development squad. I only started getting better international successonce I realised that at the age of 16 I needed to train at least 5 times a weekand once I was 18 I understood that this needed to be 6 times a week twice a day training to get any place near a top 10 finish at Europeans. Ok not all these sessions were hard graft some recovery sessions and as I was 18 a few weights sessions. None of this would have changed, technique always plays a huge part but fitness and speed takes dedication and hard graft.

 

As mentioned before I see some skaters putting the effort in and getting the rewards. The reward needs to be team selection to race Europeans but wehave to encourage hard work to produce medals again. There isn’t any point taking a huge team to a European or World Championships if they have only the speed to sit on the back, let alone help each other work their way up the pack.I know this will come; you only have to look at the improvement of our Junior A skaters are making and look at some of the talent being produced in all of the clubs.

 

It’s a long road and as mentioned before we need the sport to pull together. The more Volunteers, committee members and officials we have the faster this will all happen. The more clubs we have putting on top level competition the faster this will happen. This cannot be left to a few members of the committee and a few clubs doing all the work.

 

The last note on this is that I don’t want to seem negative in anyway as OUR sport has so much to give. We all have our difference in opinions and we won’t all see eye to eye on the direction we are heading. All I ask is for the backing and support in the direction we are going and if you think you have  abetter idea or want to get involved in driving our sport forwards please drop me an e-mail.

 

fiss.vicechairman@gmail.com


Kind regards,

 

Mark.

 



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July 31, 2012 at 1:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

snail
Member
Posts: 13

snail at July 31, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Thanks Mark for that thoughtful reply.

I was very pleased at the level of skating produced by both Harry and Mark at the European Championship, so well done boys!

However when I look around your website John it does make me sad to see the large teams that we used to field. For a long time now we have been producing one or two talented skaters who have found difficulty shining because, beyond the shorter, less crowded races there is a need for a team to enable success. We have all seen a single skater passed down a line of a larger team working together. James Ashby was a case in point - an incredibly talented long distance skater but all alone in those enormous fields with little equivalent support I felt he did not shine as well as he could have done at international level.

 I do disagree about the importance of skating technique versus fitness though Mark. I think that many of our skaters are very fit - the skaters at Wheels for example train at least 3 times a week, weather permitting. Generally speaking our fastest and best skaters have the best technique. Bad technique means inefficient skating, which in itself brings extra effort and proness to injury. As you know I am no expert, but that's just common sense. Technique needs to be taught alongside fitness (and core fitness, not just racing practise, for higher level skaters).  I don't think any other sport would be reconciling technique development to club level. Where there are expert skaters that may be fair enough, but how can new or emergent speedskating teams learn expertise from themselves? Even our very best club coaches need to keep up to date with the latest developments in the sport internationally, surely?


That's all for now,

Snail


Hi Mark,

the actual quote was

"at least 3 times a week", as I am only aware of what the standard junior training sessions were quite a while ago. I am fully aware that some of our senior members trained much more often, with some sessions not necessarily on wheels. 

None of the above was intended as a criticism, but rather something that I feel quite strongly about. Good technique is an absolute precursor of optimal speed, in my opinion.

cheers

Snail.

August 1, 2012 at 7:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Mark Simnor
Member
Posts: 8

Hi Snail,


I know it wasnt inteded as crtiscism and I agree totaly that technique is a precursor of optimal speed. Its just its not an easy one to work on with once a month squad sessions. I would love more regualr sessions or other coaches putting on training camps for all clubs to attend. Strangly enough the only none FISS training camp available is the one Sooty has been running in Denmark. From the feedback I have received from both Harry and Max they have been very worthwhile attending.


Im hoping for more people wanting to get involved and set similar events up in the UK would be fantastic. If we can encourage more people to come on and do some of the running of the sport.


Kindest regards,


Mark.

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August 1, 2012 at 2:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

jonmorrison
Member
Posts: 6

Interesting topic.

Moving for the future, well i'm a firm support of the British Cyclings "marginal gains" outlook, i.e. making small improvements in every aspect of the athlete which leads to a collectively large overall improvement (so small improvements to training, conditioning, tactics, experience, equipment, nutrition etc...) and in case you haven't seen GB's dominance in cycling then this definitely seems to be working!

I agree the clubs should be setting the foundation for the majority of the training - the GB set up should only have to look after the organisation, pre-comp fitness tests, preparation, group cohesion... basically the finishing touches that make the athletes an international worthy TEAM, and if they need to teach basic technique or the athletes can't do basic training/testing drills then they really shouldn't be there. Problem here is, all the British clubs have an inconsistant (although that doesn't mean all unsuccessful) process for developing skaters, some teams will concentrate on fitness, others technique and I think a solid, standardized process on a national level would lead to better skaters. Bringing up the GB cyclists again, they take control of the athletes from a young age and nurture them all in the same way, using the same methods.

My view, and i've made it known several times, is that our athletes should pick a discipline, be it sprinting, distance, marathon or relay and train for that. Harry Hoare, for example, has always had an immense amount of natural speed and hunger to win, however in my opinion he shouldn't even be reading a long distance event on an event program, let alone racing it, and he would be better off by doing the distances up to 1000m and maybe a leg in a relay at internationals and training. I'd put him on a power/weights program to give him that extra bit of explosive power, training that distance/endurance work would prevent him from developing properly, sure Mantia can do multiple events but if you look at other nations they have their sprinters and distance skaters, because they aren't all like Joey, and until we develop a Mantia of our own, I feel this is the way to go.

With regards to the above I also feel a talent ID program needs to be put in place, so picking kids up with various physical elements that might indicate that they'll be good skaters, much like swimming teams look to tall kids, with large wing spans and big "flipper" feet for their future stars, because not everyone wins the genetic lottery...

Thoughts?

Jon

August 4, 2012 at 3:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

John C. Fry
Site Owner
Posts: 46

I'm also a firm believer in "marginal gains"...but unfortunately think we are a long way off that.  Marginal gains are usually the miniscule improvements made to athletes at the very peak of their abilities...as far as British skating is concerned I doubt we could name a skater who would curently benefit from "marginal gains".

Granted, we have a some good youngsters in the ranks who I am sure will also be pushing for succes with the right coaching and mentoring. It's unfortunate that the likes of Harry (Hoare) lack that support mechanism, through no fault of his own I should add. Harry, by his own admission, could train harder...and more importantly, smarter, but does he know how to? Doubtful. His mid table performances at the Europeans were noteable considering this. But a hunger to win a race comes from training on early mornings, late nights, in severe weather conditions...six or seven days a week...twice a day. Improvements then made would be measured in yard-sticks. British skaters need to master the basics, e.g. how to train, before they can even entertain that idea of marginal gains.

 

I also agree with picking a discipline but again whilst our current skaters are still developing it is immaterial.  When you consider that our best skater is a 40 year old who won his first senior British title 20 years ago, it says as much about the state of our sport as it does about his ability.  When it comes to application and dedication there is a guy who stands head and shoulders (quite literally) above any other British skater at present.

As for putting an ID program into place...good idea...but again who is going to administer this?  We can't find coaches for clubs let alone a national program of finding kids with specific physical attributes.  It's all good theory Jon, and I'm all for progression, but we're not rowing, cycling or athletics...we're roller skating with a total membership of 60 and cica 50% of those are from the Birmingham Wheels club, which is no coincidence by the way. 

Dare I say it, Birmingham Wheels have the right approach.  They are fortunate enough to have people in their midst who can take the sport to the schools.  In fact, they have got skating on the school curriculum in some areas.  that in itself is an achievement.  From these schools if only a handful show an interest..and then only one or two stay the course the we are lucky.  But those one or two are the kids that now make up the nucleus of not only the club but the sport in the UK as a whole.  Granted, they benefit from having a banked track facility and an excellent coaching crew...not to mention a dedicated group of parents.  All these are what makes the club the most successful club not only in the country, but ever.  But it didn't happen overnight.  It has taken possibly five or six years of hard work and dedication to achieve this.  But the key words here are "hard work" and "dedication"...so for now I would put aside the "marginal gains" idea and shelve the ID program theory and just go out and recruit some skaters first...

You did ask... :)   

August 7, 2012 at 4:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

snail
Member
Posts: 13

Well now is the time John. The nation is more sport aware than it has been for a long time. But few people are aware of inline speed skating. Full stop. I had never heard of it until Sharon Tongue came and led a Skatesmart course at my son's school, and  I live less than 400m away from the Birmingham Wheels track.

The internet now means that there is a public forum where people can find out about inline speed skating. As a sport, are we using that as much as we can? In my opinion, every club should have their own up to date website. The webite should provide for more than its members if it is to make a difference at a wider level. It needs to

a) show how exciting speed skating can be through photographs. We have some excellent potographers out there, so lets get generous and share our photographs around.

b) clear signposting to browsers as to how easy it is to both learn to skate and to develop into competitive skating; so public learn to skate session times, training schedules (for beginning and intermediate skaters at least), phone numbers, contact details, come down and see us sessions, maps...anything and everything to show that enquiries are warmly welcomed and it's easy to find out anything you don't know.

I am now going to go and have a scout around the web and see what the current state of affairs is re the visibility of inline speedskating as a sport and I will report back.

Snail (on the trail, lol)


August 7, 2012 at 6:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

snail
Member
Posts: 13

OK 

Searching on "inline speed skating UK" (which is quite specific) I got FISS,RAPS and South Woodham Ferrers on page 1. Page 2, Londonspeedskaters. Page 3 - as page 1 plus BRSF. On most pages as I trawled on there were many references to RAPS website pages and some references to FISS website pages. On page 5 I found a report from "Spalding Today" about the success of the Wisbech team at Nationals this year. On page 13 I found the Camberley Skaters. I stopped at page 15 having not found any other site but a reference to a report in the Southport Visitor on ROK YMCA racing (so some time ago). Bear in mind that most people who browse will usually only look at the first few pages of any search.

Searching "speed skating UK" I also found FISS,RAPS and SWF in the first 2 pages.

All the websites I found were up to date with clear signposting etc, so well done. But thats only 4 or 5  websites. 

One problem that clubs may be having is not setting up enough links and tage onto their sites. Website visibility is not only to do with how many hits the site gets directly, it's also to do with the links and tags that it shares with other websites. If you have a website that is not currently prominent and you would like it to be, ask other clubs and sites to include you on their links (for which you would obviously reciprocate!!), get on the FISS website, the BRSF website etc. All those links up your rating....if you have few links some search engines may not show you at all.

Having said that, a prescence on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter may be equally important these days, once people have heard that we exist!

Snail



August 7, 2012 at 7:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

jonmorrison
Member
Posts: 6

John C. Fry at August 7, 2012 at 4:30 PM

I'm also a firm believer in "marginal gains"...but unfortunately think we are a long way off that.  Marginal gains are usually the miniscule improvements made to athletes at the very peak of their abilities...as far as British skating is concerned I doubt we could name a skater who would curently benefit from "marginal gains".

Granted, we have a some good youngsters in the ranks who I am sure will also be pushing for succes with the right coaching and mentoring. It's unfortunate that the likes of Harry (Hoare) lack that support mechanism, through no fault of his own I should add. Harry, by his own admission, could train harder...and more importantly, smarter, but does he know how to? Doubtful. His mid table performances at the Europeans were noteable considering this. But a hunger to win a race comes from training on early mornings, late nights, in severe weather conditions...six or seven days a week...twice a day. Improvements then made would be measured in yard-sticks. British skaters need to master the basics, e.g. how to train, before they can even entertain that idea of marginal gains.

 

I also agree with picking a discipline but again whilst our current skaters are still developing it is immaterial.  When you consider that our best skater is a 40 year old who won his first senior British title 20 years ago, it says as much about the state of our sport as it does about his ability.  When it comes to application and dedication there is a guy who stands head and shoulders (quite literally) above any other British skater at present.

As for putting an ID program into place...good idea...but again who is going to administer this?  We can't find coaches for clubs let alone a national program of finding kids with specific physical attributes.  It's all good theory Jon, and I'm all for progression, but we're not rowing, cycling or athletics...we're roller skating with a total membership of 60 and cica 50% of those are from the Birmingham Wheels club, which is no coincidence by the way. 

Dare I say it, Birmingham Wheels have the right approach.  They are fortunate enough to have people in their midst who can take the sport to the schools.  In fact, they have got skating on the school curriculum in some areas.  that in itself is an achievement.  From these schools if only a handful show an interest..and then only one or two stay the course the we are lucky.  But those one or two are the kids that now make up the nucleus of not only the club but the sport in the UK as a whole.  Granted, they benefit from having a banked track facility and an excellent coaching crew...not to mention a dedicated group of parents.  All these are what makes the club the most successful club not only in the country, but ever.  But it didn't happen overnight.  It has taken possibly five or six years of hard work and dedication to achieve this.  But the key words here are "hard work" and "dedication"...so for now I would put aside the "marginal gains" idea and shelve the ID program theory and just go out and recruit some skaters first...

You did ask... :)   

Ah love a good debate!

I agree that our athletes are not at the dizzy heights of world class performances, but that doesn't mean marginal gains can't work at any level - ultimately we need "massive gains" but because we are far behind, marginal... small, tiny gains in every department shouldn't be such a unrealistic approach to anyones training, there is a wealth of knowledge on the web, libraries and various experts that can provide the ideas and information to help even the poorest of us to improve, from diet to recovery, injury prevention to equipment. So in fact everyone involved in British Skating, coaches and skaters alike can benefit from small improvements each year, because small improvements are actually quite simplistic to process in some areas of the sport, I think back to my Cadet Euro experiences and just the smallest of changes would have greatly helped me back then (of course with size 11 feet at age 14, 110mm wheels would have helped me the most...) Its a case of not being content with what you're doing, even world champions don't just sit back, if they can make improvements then there is plenty of room for us mere mortals!

Why can't we train our youngsters in a particular discipline? We are lucky in way that our sport can mean skaters can be good at all distances (Kalon Dobbin springs to mind when he was World Champ at 300m, then a medalist in the Marathon... 2003 I think...) but maybe a new way of thinking is whats needed, because is what we currently do the right thing to do? If there are skaters that have a naturally high amount of fast twitich fibres, the "sprinter" fibres then they should be training for sprints surely? Have skaters been and gone that could of been so much more if they avoided a certain type of training more? That can easily be tested at the most basic level of any club which would mean just keep recording times at short distances, and the quickest out of a group of youngsters may have a high chance of becoming good sprinters, or having a good sprint at the end of a race.

Grass roots is the way, and what Birmingham are doing is incredible, my hats off to them! we need to generate more youngsters, keep it fun, get them hooked, then train them hard... What I like most about Birminghams approach, is that it is developing groups of skaters that can grow together, train together, pick each other up (literally!) and progress as a team. Something I've always wanted (I've had it sometimes, but not all the time) and that is important to keep the skaters in the sport..

I know all this is great in theory, and application is needed to make any of this more than just words in a forum, and I plan too after I am done competing myself. Coaching is something I want to get into and I am kinda using myself and my training as an experiment to see whats practical, what works or doesn't work, although with busted skates whatever I do isn't going to matter until I get a new pair!

And I do agree with Snail, the marketing/exposure could be better, but again its having the man power to take that on.

Jon

August 14, 2012 at 6:42 AM Flag Quote & Reply

John C. Fry
Site Owner
Posts: 46

Still can't agree on the marginal gains theory for our skaters. To realise these type of gains you could be looking at things like frame weight, bearing materials, wheel profile, type of helmet worn, etc. We simply don't have the class of skater (yet) who would recognise or achieve a measurable benefit from any of these simply because we don't have anyone who is anywhere near reaching their optimum in terms of strength, skill, speed and ability.

I'm more in tune with specific athletes for specific events, but whilst we have such a low number the harsh truth is it is unlikely to happen. Take Harry Hoare for example. He is proven to be fast but should he concentrate on sprints when he knows he can win distances (in this country) too? My personal view is yes he should, but doubt he will. It's natural to want to win and our current gene pool of skaters today make winning a lot easier than it was say 20 years ago. That's not to say that today's skaters aren't fitter or faster...but they have very little by way of domestic competition to judge just how fit or how fast, hence when it comes to international competition it comes as a shock when they struggle to last more than a few laps in a 15km.  Vincent Henry and Sutton Atkins are probably the only skaters we currently have who concentrate on one discipline...but that has come from years of understanding what they want and what their limitations are.  George Kirkman for example could hardly be classed as a sprinter, but coud quite possibly win a sprint in the UK if he trained for it. This, though, would just be a false gauge of his abilities. But that's where good and knowledgeable coaching comes in...unfortunately something else distinctly lacking in the UK at present.

August 15, 2012 at 1:19 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Mark Simnor
Member
Posts: 8

Hi Snail,


A quick note on the website is that we now have a new webmaster Bartoz Platak who is working hard on getting us on the map again. Like most things this will take time and we will hopefully have an update on the progress of the new site at the AGM.. The old website is only a temporary measure when we had a number of issues from the old site previous to that one.


To put a fine point on everything is that many things revolve around money as far as I see it. If we have more cash we can take teams away for more experiance. We can have more squad developement days and get together more often to learn better technique and how to train properly. If I have the time rescorces and most importantly the people to assist and I honestly belive that we the committee can drive the sports forwards. Unfortunatly it will take time and in the background we are trying to address many the issues. We wont always get everything right, however, I am a firm beliver in learning from your mistakes. As most of both the old committees disapeared over the last 10 years mistakes will be made. I will ask again if anyone wants to give time and work hard in moving the sport forwards please contact me. We have plenty of roles jobs either committee or none committee posts that need people that want to work.


Jon I have to agree with John Fry on the issue with regards to specialisation. it is the way forward but only once we have all the building blocks in place. Marginal Gains works, but only once you have top level athletes who can benefit from it. The fact also has to be kown that many of the worlds top distance skaters can get well within the top 20 of the sprint distances too. You have to be able to go fast and start fast to have a chance in a 20k elimination on the track or road. So asking any of our skaters to specialise in before they can get a decent way in to any of these distances would be neive. You will always get the exception and a skater that has a deffinate lean towards a sprint or distance. Even with that in mind while we only put together once a month squad sessions their club coach is the person who needs to develop that skaters strengh. In th future I would love us to explore having sprinters and distance skaters that are trained in that way. Its just a little premature to look into that now when we have to work on basic fitness, coordination and technique.


Cheers,


Mark.

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August 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

jonmorrison
Member
Posts: 6

Right, I can see that my view of marginal gains is different to whats being addressed here.

I used the team sky example, simply because they are known for their attention to detail - for arguements sake lets be inventive here and call it "multi-gains" (there's some marketing spin on mulitgrains to be had there...) I was merely saying, just like the GB Cycling team when they look at every aspect of their athletes, I belive this is something that should be a focus for us, and pretty much every athlete going. Its about looking at ourselves as a whole, and not settling for what we currently do - every athlete can improve right? (especially the UK...) so why can't our athletes note down everything they're doing and try and improve it a little? in an ever changing world, this is incredibly important, if you're not moving forward then you're falling behind.

I didn't mean marginal gains as in "lets squeeze a little more out of every aspect once you are elite", any one of our skaters could look at themselves and make a 4% improvement on equipment choice, 15% on diet, 12% on winter training techniques, 50% better tactical decisions.... etc... etc.. (some made up examples of course, but lord knows I can improve my tactical awareness sometimes)

Marginal gains was probably the wrong term, simply just "Gains" in many different aspects is something we can all do. Can we agree on that?

I'm sorry, throughout my studies and experience, I can't move away from focusing on the discipline we are biologically programmed to do. Physiology isn't going to say "Ok FISS, i'll wait until you have 10,000 members and thats when muscle fibres, and other various physical elements will matter" But I do concede that with proper training you can develop into being a good all-round skater, its just our bodies may mean we do better in some events over others.

In my opinion, the superior "technical" skaters can get away with multi-distance i.e. your Bart Swings, Joey Mantia, and that other American chap, Chad something... among many others - as technique in our sport will get you far, but sometimes your techanical ability and physiology will limit you to a certain area of the sport.

I'm not saying that athletes should neglect aspects of training though, if you want to be fast at a 10k, then you should be able to do 10 x 1k efforts in pretty much the same time... so fast intervals, a major aspect of sprint training should be a focus of endurance work too, its just the specifics change, i.e how much of each distance and what distance the athletes train based on the distances they need to be good at. Not too mention if you are good in the sprints, why risk falling or other injuries in the longer events? if they don't count to an overall classification then surely there isn't much point in the risk? (exception: younger athletes gaining experience).

I'm probably the only one singing this song at the moment, and i'm aware that these are things club coaches should take care of, and that youth skaters need to develop in multi-events to find themselves, that we need as many people in as many races as possible so we can't ask skaters to only do certain events... It's just something I've always wondered, as our sport has examples of athletes who do all distances and those that do 1 or 2 events that are all respective World Champions. Maybe the multi-eventers abilities are just so high, and that is what allows them to compete across the board, whereas the 1 or 2 eventers know that they haven't got the ability at all levels, which is why choose to be good at just a few.

Hell maybe i'm wrong, maybe it is a numbers game and the other countries that have the skaters just split the events between a larger pool of qualified athletes. Whatever the case, I think coaches need to be honest to their athletes over whats the best thing for their skating... if they want to be the best they can be of course!

Jon

 

August 16, 2012 at 4:11 AM Flag Quote & Reply

John C. Fry
Site Owner
Posts: 46

Like I said...I'm with you on the "single discipline" principle...it's just that many (most) of our skaters don't want to do that whilst they feel they can win (here in the UK) at ALL distances.   I wouldn't call Chad or Bart all rounders either.  The fact is Chad never won a TT and Bart Swings struggles to make the top 10 in a 300m.  On the flip side, Duggento was a monster at 200m and 300m, but at 301m or more he was a spent force...having never won at worlds (or Euros for that matter) anything over these distances.  Mantia is probably the only one who maybe breaks the rule of thumb - and Kalon in his younger days.

One of the big problems comes from the fact that in the UK we only have sprints on once a year (twice if you include the Inter-Category Knockout) and which kid wants to only concentrate on winning just once a year...when even that isn't guaranteed?  Maybe it's time some of the clubs who put races on look at their race programme and make it more diverse.  In the not too dim and distant past Herne Bay Flyers used to put a race on that included a 300m - but alas, no more.  It was also not uncommon for age groups to just be allocated one distance to skate at any event.  With the likes of Birmingham Wheels now putting up to FOUR races on for each age group/category maybe its time for a rethink....? 

August 16, 2012 at 1:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

jonmorrison
Member
Posts: 6

True, I suppose it then relates to the ambitions of the skater. If they want to be the best in the UK, then they can take their pick, but internationals? better off getting good at one or two.

Yeah, I suppose Joey is the only exception, although I'm sure Bart was in the top 3 at Zandvoorde recently in the 300m... not a worlds or euros, but the next best thing! I mean they aren't bad at sprints! thinking about it I'm pretty sure I remember seeing Duggento taking part up to 1000m at Nationals, 300 and 500m at Euros and then just the 300m at Worlds, like as the difficulty went up he had to drop an event. But yeah, in general, competitively time trials were his thing! so glad I got to watch him in person in 2002!

I agree, i've always said that there should be more "sprints" maybe a Sprint Cup with a 300m and 500m overall and then have a 10k as the 3rd race? would be a nice meet that! A bit of everything!

Jon

 

August 16, 2012 at 5:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Mark Simnor
Member
Posts: 8

Hi Jon,


Most FISS races now have the format of a proper sprint distance, middle and long distance race to cater for all the skaters. Nothing stopping yourself from putting a race meeting on or organising a group of competitions to any distance you wish.


Kind regards,


Mark.

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August 16, 2012 at 6:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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