Do You Need To Learn To Compete?
This week I had the pleasure to talk to professional RED BULL™ Cliff Diver Andy Jones (@Andy.Jones.Diver) who competes on the world circuit for Cliff Diving, as well as with the Redbull Cliff Diving Series. We discussed mental techniques for training and even 'dive' into the competitive structure of the sport; including how cliff divers get paid to compete. To hear our discussion click HERE.
A few years ago, I went cliff diving with Devin Supertramp, a famous YouTube videographer (@DevinSupertramp) and thought I would write a small article about the benefits of cross training with cliff diving for our more traditional athletes. See the video HERE.
It is very easy to get into a rhythm in training and after a few months you realize you have been doing the same basic training the whole time. Why not take the athletes out to go cliff jumping or indoor diving one day? You do not have to go 26.5 meters like Redbull does, but why not take the acrobatics out of the gym and let the athletes experience flipping in a new environment?
After a week of jumping off cliffs in Italy with Devin I had a new perspective on acrobatics and realized how refreshing it is to do my same old flips but in a new environment. That new environment really changes the way you perceive the flips because now you can just focus on doing the same flips you have always done. Once you go outside you have to take in the weather, elements and conditions into effect.
Athletes that train in the exact same environment will tend to become programmed to see training through only that one simple lens. By changing it up you will do a few things:
Add some spice to training
Learn to adapt old skills in new environments
Learn to see old skills in a new perspective
I can rattle off tons of other benefits but I want to focus on the idea that by learning to take old skills and put them in a new environment, you will learn to reframe certain skills and can even break past fears by simply reframing the skill by throwing it into water compared to the same mat that you have tried to land on for the last few weeks. By regularly including cross training from different sports and different acrobatic sectors such as cliff diving, you can train your body to learn to adapt old skills to new situations. Where does this play a significant role? Competition.
Competition nerves are a hot topic for any athlete and in Gymnastics we have a very analytical culture that teeters on the side of perfection. What better sport to utilize some adaptive cross training to help compass competition anxiety than gymnastics or trampoline?
You can train to be better at competing by simply changing up the environment and being use to a different environment. From my experience, when an athlete is exposed to many different environments throughout their training, they will naturally focus less and less on the environment since it is always changing and this allows them to focus more on their actual training.
When they get to competition, they will take that dampened ‘new environment’ response from their years of cross training in different environments with them on the competition floor. If you go cliff diving or even to a local pool with a platform or diving board you can even make it a competition and have fun with the same competitive skills but score them as you would at a competition. Make it fun but make sure you highlight the benefits of this more freestyle training approach. The athletes that are the best competitors have a freestyle component to their training which teaches them to adapt to a variety of situations.
So think about this at your training and see if you can schedule in some diving with your athletes even if they are not divers and use it as a training tool to help them learn to adapt but also how to compete when its game day.