Part of the fun in agility is analyzing courses, discovering all the options and then deciding on the best way to run the course.
But most people don’t use the walk-through to full advantage.
Here are three quick tips that will help you maximize your walk-throughs!
1. Don't obsess
When you obsess on a course, it puts you too much on the left side of your brain…it makes you too analytical and causes you to start second-guessing yourself.
Overthinking will cause you to tense up and get you into trouble.
Your best performances come when you let the creative right side of your brain take over because that’s when you are in the moment. Often handlers who are late for their runs do really well, because they can’t over-analyze, they have to trust and go for it…pure right brain creativity!
2. Walk for YOUR dog
Too often people are influenced by what others are doing. Only you know your dog and how the course is going to affect him.
If you’ve got a big jumping dog, you may have to make different choices from someone who has a very tight turning dog.
A straight line with speed or tough angle of approach to a jump will affect your dog differently than another, so trust in your own understanding of how your team runs. It’s not about who has the fanciest moves or even the fastest dog, but which team works together the best and executes well.
Just because it's trendy or a world team is doing it or someone has a (strong) opinion different from your, doesn't mean it's right for your team. Simple is often the best option, anyway.
If you follow your own instincts, at least you'll learn something about your team and strengthen your own decision-making process. Otherwise, all you can do is second guess and remain dependent on someone else.
3. Step away from the course
Instead of continually walking the course, step away, close your eyes and do some *air handling* (small movements in one spot with your eyes closed as you picture the course). Try to *feel* the course in your body and picture where your dog will be. This makes it come alive and more than just an analytical exercise.
This will also tell you if there are any spots you are unsure of — because you will hesitate to remember the course at that spot. If you do hesitate, go back over that spot in your mind several times from a couple of obstacles prior to the hesitation until you no longer hesitate.
Robotically walking the course over and over becomes less effective with each repetition you are no longer learning and processing. It's just like patterning a dog to do weave poles or using muscle memory to memorize a piano piece for a recital. It works up to a point. But if something weird happens...if your finger slips on the keyboard or the dog slips in the weave poles, the behaviour breaks because the program gets interrupted.
The same happens if you have a brain burp on course. Your plan goes out the window and you freeze up.
Practice your walk-through technique
You can train yourself to be better at walk-throughs.
In practice, occasionally try giving yourself less time for your walk-through, or try only mentally walking a course from the sideline. That way, when there is the inevitable glitch in your preparation, you'll be able to roll with it!
Want to improve your memorization, pre-run preparation, visualization skills or improve your ring nerves? Check out these courses in The Agility Coach Store:
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