VICTORIA, BC – When British Columbia-based athletes arrive at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, it will be after a rigorous four years of training filled with early mornings, late nights, injuries, recoveries, evaluation and adjustments.
“What we are trying to do is manipulate the athletes’ ability to act with an environment so they can maximize their abilities on the field,” explains Canadian Sport Institute Pacific strength & conditioning coach Dana Agar-Newman.
A former track and field athlete at the University of Saskatchewan, Agar-Newman is very familiar with the preparation that goes into every year of competition. As a co-lead for CSI Pacific in strength and conditioning, Agar-Newman works closely with a number of different sports, but he can be found most days working with the Canadian Women’s Rugby 7s squad.
The work day begins at 7 a.m. for Agar-Newman, starting with meetings with the Integrated Support Team to discuss injuries and last minute changes to the training day. From there, athletes get into a busy day of testing and training. They will take time for a break and lunch in the afternoon before continuing with another training session and individual meetings to end the day.
“We’ve got pretty much anything you need, from linear position transducers to force plates, to GPSs that measure the athletes’ accelerations and decelerations and how many kilometres they are covering,” noted Agar-Newman.
In preparation for an Olympic games, planning begins at the start of a four-year cycle called a quad. A destination is laid out between coaches and the athlete to determine where they want to be in four years and how they are going to get there. Each year the volume of workload and the focus changes with adjustments constantly being made to best suit each athlete.
“There are multiple different factors that we are trying to layer on top of one another. It is all about learning and helping the athletes learn,” said Agar-Newman, who has been with CSI Pacific since 2010. “Every year you get into a little more detail, you try to trial a few things. And you are always tweaking.
“You just want that machine to work smoother and smoother leading into the Olympics.”
Throughout the four-year process, strength and conditioning coaches and athletes keep an open dialogue about training sessions and using resources available at CSI Pacific to fine-tune a routine that best fits each athlete.
“You have to value their opinion because they are the ones training. You have to use your experience and their experiences because they know exactly how each session feels and how their body feels,” added Agar-Newman.
Days for the S&C coaches often start early and can end late, working around the athletes’ schedule to make sure they complete all the training necessary. This work can be in the daily training environment at one of CSI Pacific’s three campuses (Victoria, Vancouver & Whistler) or on the road. Many of the strength and conditioning coaches travel with their athletes over 100 days a year.
With four years of preparation for the 2016 Olympics nearly complete, Agar-Newman and the rest of the strength and conditioning team at CSI Pacific are making the final adjustments with athletes to have them healthy and ready for the start of the games.
“The biggest thing in an Olympic year is to not panic and to do what you’ve always done. Tweak it, do what you’ve always done, do it better, and make sure you get to the starting line.”