Monday, 1 October 2012

Athletes reap benefits of sport psychology sessions

Skydivers on the Australian Parachute Team (APT) were treated to a weekend away at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from 22-23 September.

The APT training camp was funded by the Australian Parachute Federation to assist athletes to prepare for the upcoming WPC and included lectures and practical sessions on strength and conditioning, recovery, nutrition, biomechanics, self-massage and sport psychology.  

Twenty-one out of the 48 athletes on the team attended the program, including members of VFS team “The Addicted”, Women’s FS 4-way team “Valkyries”, 8-way FS team “Velocita”, CF 2-way Sequential team “Ookoonono”, and competitors participating in CP and Style and Accuracy Landing disciplines.  

APF CEO/National Coach and former world parachuting champion in canopy relative work (CRW), Brad Turner, said the camp was part of the APF’s plan to better support athletes to compete on the world stage:

“The APF is keen to support our athletes to reach their potential and perform well at international events like the WPC. A lot of that comes down to the amount of time our athletes spend practicing in the air, but it is also dependent on their mental and physical training efforts. We saw the AIS camp as an opportunity to introduce our athletes to topics we believe will help them gain an edge over their competitors in Dubai.”

The unanimous highlight of the weekend for everyone in attendance was the sport psychology session conducted by registered sport and exercise psychologist Gayelene Clews. Gayelene is a former World Number One Triathlete and has worked with many top tier sporting teams. Currently she is Leadership and Dynamics educator to Soccer Australia (NSW), Australian Cricket, the AIS, ACTAS and the ASC. She is widely regarded as an expert in team dynamics.

Gaylene presented a three hour session to APT athletes covering the importance of arousal in individual athletic performance and methods for positive regulation and management; hidden agendas in team performance; and performance analysis to help members of the Australian Parachute Team maximise their strengths, identify their weakness, and perform under pressure.  

Team captain of “The Addicted” VFS 4-way team, Kim Hopwood, said the session with Ms Clews was highly beneficial:

“This session was amazing! Gayelene had so much incredible knowledge and she took the time to listen to us about what is involved in the sport. The psych element is easily the most relevant part of training for us as skydivers.”

2011 Dubai International Parachuting Championships and Gulf Cup silver medallists in CF Michael Vaughan and Jules McConnel of team “Ookoonono” also enjoyed the session.  

“Gayelene was very good, her session was both useful and very relevant. This was the #1 session of the weekend,” said Michael.

“The session with Gayelene was excellent and made the trip worthwhile. She covered so much in a short time. It was definitely the most valuable part of the weekend,” said Jules.

Athletes will now seek to put what they have learned into effect before jumping into an action packed competition scene when the WPC starts on November 28 this year.

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