1. Are there any last-minute training methods athletes use in the weeks ahead of a big event like the Paralympics?
The final ‘Race Preparation’ phase of training leading up to a major games or long term goal involves bringing together both mental and physical conditioning to a natural peak.
Gym work focuses on power and speed of movement through activation/recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibre. This can be achieved through contrast/complex training i.e., Heavy squat followed by Squat Jumps/Tuck Jumps. Step ups followed by Split Jumps etc.
This process is known as ‘Potentiation’, which basically increases or heightens the responsiveness of fast twitch muscle fibre.
Track sessions taper down and rest and recovery become paramount. The contrast complex principle is applied to speed sessions, a session my group enjoy is, Med’ Ball Squat Throw – Box Jump – counter Jump – Sprint.
The mind plays a huge part in human performance so I try to set the high-speed sessions as close to race time and conditions as possible. This lowers anxiety and mental pressure in the arena.
I am a registered hypnotherapist and have used Autogenic training or Imagery to effectively prepare the mind for competition and also for relaxation as a coping strategy for periods of heightened stress.
2.On race day, what advice do you give to your athletes?
The biggest mistake Athletes make is trying too hard or trying to take the body way beyond what it is accustomed to, which produces lactic acid at a point in the race where they would not expect it. Once this happens co-ordination at speed is hampered and technique suffers.
So simply put ‘’Execute as you have done in practice’’
3.The odds of getting gold are tough. How do athletes stay confident when faced with such stiff competition?
Confidence when surrounded by World Class or higher achieving Athletes comes from the successful completion of a well-planned training and race programme. The ability to ‘’Go For Gold’’ is developed through high-level competition exposure which breeds familiarization and don’t forget personal desire… and the will to win!
4.How do you pick athletes up from a bad race/performance?
Usually in any under-performance there will be an aspect of the performance that was executed well. It is better to focus on what went well than the negative overall outcome (result). So I tend to look at the positive regardless of the result and leave the in-depth analysis until back at training; especially if the Athlete still has to continue in the competition.
Harry King Dip Hyp CS
England Athletics National Coach Mentor
Great Britain Team Coach
Brunel University Performance Coach