Category Archives: Coaching Judo

Research update

With my PhD completed, I thought it would be a good idea to have somewhere where all the research can be accessed so please see the links below if you’re interested in lightweight women’s judo.

Experimental Chapters:
There’s a few more to be peer-reviewed in the future.
Research conference posters:
Presented at the world championships in Rio de Janeiro 2013
Entire Thesis:

 

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Filed under Bob Challis, British Judo, Coach Education, Coaching Judo, Comberton Judo Club, Judo, Judobob, PhD, Women's judo

Is British Judo on the Rise? Part 2

I asked this question previously, back in April, following the European championships and I am going to following a similar process here. I will look at world championships results all the way back to 2000 and compare them using a variety of methods. Firstly let us consider the team.

Table 1: British team that was selected for the 2018 world championships in Baku alongside their current European, World and Olympic medals.

Screenshot 2018-09-27 at 16.20.47

It should be noted that Alice Schlesinger is also a world bronze medallist and 4 times European medallist. Furthermore, Lucy Renshall was selected in u63kg but could not fight because of injury. She is the current European bronze medallist.

I think this is an outstanding team. Twelve athletes, five of them are current European, World or Olympic medallist. I don’t think anyone can criticise the strength of the team that went out to Baku. Maybe some would like to see more go and a less stringent selection process but that’s another issue.

So, is British judo getting better at a world level? Like previously I will go back to 2000 and consider results at the world championships.

The first criteria most would consider is the number of medals, crude but arguably fair. In this world championships we got one silver medal (Nekoda Smythe-Davis) and if we compare that back to 2000 we can see only last year we won two bronzes. Of course, you could argue 1 silver is better than two bronze, it certainly puts you higher on the medal table but then conversely it gives you less world ranking point. It’s neither here nor there to be honest. If you’re counting medals we got less.

Let us consider the results using world ranking points going back to 2000, this process kind of evens out the colour of the medals in my opinion.

 

Screenshot 2018-09-28 at 09.57.21

 

Figure 1: World ranking points that would have been awarded based on the current world ranking list by year based upon medals won by Great Britain. 

 

I think it is fair to say that for a long period of time Great Britain was world-leading in judo. This has been less so since 1996 but even then British judo could expect 700+ points using this measure. There was then a period of time we went below this, even winning no medals for four world championships. People will cite many reasons for this, I think the break up of the Soviet Union certainly contributed to the break in our world-leading streak but what contributed to the drop from 2009-2017 is another question and is certainly not going to be answered here. If we’re asking about a rise in British judo you can clearly see us moving out of this dark period and starting to win medals again when using this points system, back to where we were between 1996 and 2007.

We can consider our performance against other nations too. If we look at our ranking in the medal table at world championships.

Table 2: Great Britain medal table position at the world championships from 2000-2018.

Screenshot 2018-09-28 at 10.11.54.png

This table is a little harder to see a pattern in. You can certainly see we had better medal table positions in the first part (2000-2007) and that it is after 2007 the decline started. You can also see that 2018 ranks 7th in our overall performance when compared to other teams and that 2018 was our most successful year since the decline.

I think the other consideration is the retirement of Karina Bryant who would consistently win a medal, if not two at each world championships. I think Karina doesn’t get enough credit for her contribution to Great Britain performance over a very long period of time. When we talk about having a lot of funding, I think a large part of this is down to her.

The other question, of course, is world champions. Well, we haven’t had one of them since Craig Fallon in 2005 and this year was the closest we have come to one since 2009. Before that, it was Graham Randall in 1999 (we won 1750 points based on the above system in that worlds but it was on home ground).

So how do we conclude? Well, based upon medals we could have done better but let’s not forget we did have two 5th places and if both of these had won this would have given us over 1000 points making it our second most successful worlds this century. It’s also fair to say our two most consistent athletes did not have a great world championship, Sally and Natalie. This happens to everyone.  A ‘normal’ result from them would have made this our second best worlds this century.

We should also consider the valiant efforts of Sarah Adlington who performed better than ever before and finished 5th as well as Jemima Yeats-Brown. Now, on the topic of Jemima. I’m a firm believer that when you make a mistake you should own up to it! I have always regarded Jemima as an athlete who would never perform and would also be injured for most of her career, and when I say always I mean I have voiced this concern for years. To be fair she has been injured a lot but in honesty, this weeks performance totally outshines that. She was outstanding. She fought with maturity, aggression, confidence and it was exciting judo! So I wholeheartedly apologise to Jemima and well done to those who supported her.

Last but not least, how could I end not mentioning Nekoda’s fantastic performance! What a great way to answer those who said last year was a fluke! She had a tough draw, she beat the current world champion and Olympic silver medallist in the semi-final, she beat Lien who although she is from Chinese Taipae trains at Komatsu and she beat the current European champion. She did great judo all day, was solid from the start and exciting to watch. Well done Nekoda!

So in conclusion, I think we actually had an unlucky world championships. I think this team could have produced more and therefore we are moving in the right direction in terms of world performance.

If you have any points or see a mistake please let me know in the comments below 🙂

 

 

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Filed under Bob Challis, British Judo, Coaching Judo, Judo, Judobob, Uncategorized

Is British Judo on the rise?

With the fantastic results of the European championships this week there will be the inevitable response of how great British judo has become/is becoming since it moved to a centralised programme at Walsall but what do the numbers tell us?

First of all, this has been a valiant effort by the British team and I would like to congratulate all the athletes, in particular, the 5 that won medals.

Sally Conway – Silver

Ashley McKenzie – Bronze

Gemma Howell – Bronze

Lucy Renshall – Bronze

Natalie Powell – Bronze

So how do these results compare to previous years? I’ve decided to stick to this century and go back to 2000. It would be hard to compare going back much further and 2000 seems like a good break point to me. There are several ways to present this data, I could do what most people do and select the one that suits my agenda or what I want to say but I think that isn’t fair and to be honest, if I have an agenda its objectivity so I have decided to present the data in a number of ways and let the reader make up their own mind.

If we base performance solely on medal count then 2018 is our most successful performance this century (since 2000). Personally, I am not convinced medal count alone is a good measure but winning 5 medals, the most we’ve won in 19 European championships is great. Below I have broken our medal tally at the European championships down by year and equating medal colour to the current number of points awarded on the IJF world ranking list. I think this is a fairly good way of presenting the data.

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 16.42.20

Figure 1: World ranking points that would have been awarded based on the current world ranking points systems from 2000 – 2018.

 

If we ranked the results in order of points awarded then 2018 would be our joint 3rd most successful year. Table 1 shows all years ranked in points order.

Rank Year gold silver bronze score
1 2006 2 2 2100
2 2005 1 2 1 2030
3 2003 1 1 2 1890
4 2018 1 4 1890
5 2000 3 1 1820
6 2004 2 1 1330
7 2002 1 1 1190
8 2016 1 1 840
9 2007 2 700
10 2010 2 700
11 2011 2 700
12 2017 2 700
13 2009 1 490
14 2001 1 350
15 2012 1 350
16 2013 1 350
17 2008 0
18 2014 0
19 2015 0

Of course, there are the purists who would only like to count gold medals. Well, it is 12 years since we won a gold medal and in those 2006 European championships, we won two golds – Craig Fallon and Sarah Clarke. In fact, we have only won 5 European gold medals this century, the two above and Karina Bryant in 2005 and 2003, Georgina Singleton in 2002.

Of course, there are others ways to measure the performance, the number of fights won compared to the number of players competing (too much work for this post i’m afraid) and the quality of the fights are two examples. I did watch all the GB fights but I would want to watch them again without the emotion to judge that and give an opinion. My first impressions are that actually, our players are fighting very well at the moment. Natalie and Sally are extremely consistent and easily world class. This was Lucy’s first Europeans and she won a bronze, how Gemma has come through so many injuries and three weight groups to medal at this level is nothing short of miraculous and Ashley has achieved a second bronze despite fighting his opponents and the system simultaneously. If I was to pick one thing I find frustrating it would be this new habit of some British players to “beg for a score” or “beg for a score to be upgraded“. I don’t like this, I think they miss opportunities, particularly in transition to Ne-waza and arguing a score is arguably the coaches job, the athletes should focus on nothing but fighting. I don’t blame the players, there could be a number of reasons, lack of trust in the coaches, lack of faith in the referees, or the constant changes in rules (although not all athletes from all countries do it) to name a few.

So what do we conclude? Well based solely on medal count we’ve done very well, our best Europeans this century. I am sure most people would agree the medal tally of 2006 (2 golds and two bronze) is better than of 2018 (1 silver and 4 bronze) as we regularly see medal tables with gold medals taking up the top slots ie one gold medal would put you above teams with multiple medals (those pesky purists!).

I think the fairest way for me is the points system, its objective and based on this system we can also look at trends in more detail. There does seem to be a trend of improvement from 2016 onwards, in fact, may be looking in more detail we just had a number of ‘difficult years’ between 2007 – 2015 and really we’ve always been great in Great Britain!

Anyway, our best European championships since 2006 and a trend for continuous improvement over the last three European championships. We should be pleased with this and hope a similar trend is seen at world level in Baku 2018 and Tokyo 2019 over the next two years and of course at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.

 

Sources:

http://www.Judoinside.com/uk

http://www.judobase.org

http://www.ippon.org

http://www.EJU.net (image source)

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Using athlete analyser in the taper

A recent research paper by Ritchie et al., (2017) entitled “Where science meets practice: Olympic coaches’ crafting of the taper process”  has supported a long held belief of mine that performance coaching is about science being applied artistically; in other words we apply scientific principles and knowledge to situations that are complex and human in nature. Ritchie et al., (2017) discuss the taper process and acknowledge previous research in this area that considers different models such a linear, stepped etc. The basic concept is to maintain performance by lowering volume and maintaining intensity and frequency. Ritchie et al., interviewed seven performance coaches in track and field, one of the key findings was that these experienced coaches had developed the scientific principles to deliver a taper but there was much more to the taper than just applying the science. Adapting the plan constantly, monitoring the process and collaborating with the athletes were almost more important in the taper.

For this years British championships I worked closely with two athletes. These athletes had a three week overload period prior to a two week taper. The overload period was hard and included two competitions, one of which was international, a week long training camp and a weekend of national squad training embedded within their normal training programme. Coaches normally plan the taper prior and manage a linear, exponential or stepped type of decrease in performance. Based upon the work cited above I decided to choose a different approach.

We use a programme called athlete analyser to monitor the athletes training load. Athlete Analyser uses the work of Gabbett (2016) to monitor training load and the software produces a live graph. The aim of my taper was to increase performance by lowering fatigue without diminishing fitness, this means decreasing volume whilst maintaining intensity. Using the live graph and collaborating daily (sometimes twice daily) with the athletes I manipulated the taper. One of the graphs are shown below.

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 17.46.45

Figure 1: One of the athletes “training insights” on athlete analyser shows the previous 90 days training load. The dotted lines are predictive (this was screen shot 3-4 days before the event) and shows the athlete will ‘peak’ for this event.

 

Both athletes reported feeling very well prepared for the competition and were confident going into the event.

Issues

This method is very time consuming, as a volunteer coach I would struggle to do this with more than 3-4 athletes. There is also the consideration of the athletes mental state in the overload period and the taper, coaches have to remember how the athletes are feeling and whilst listening to them sometimes be prepared to move on and complete the sessions you wanted to. Lastly, if you have set technical elements you want to cover in the taper, you may have to accept you cannot.

We should also remember there are some factors not recorded by the software yet, illness, fatigue from work, fatigue from travel etc

This is something I am going to be looking at in a lot more detail, any feedback is welcome! I think working closely with the athletes to apply this kind of science is the key to successful performance coaching.

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PhD Thesis Submitted…

It feels like ages ago now but on the 18th September 2017 I finally submitted my PhD thesis – “A Time-Motion, Technical and Tactical Analysis of Lightweight Women’s Judo”. This is a journey I started on in 2010 and to be honest it’s felt longer lol

I am in the process of editing three new papers from the experimental chapters (one already published). One will be on techniques and tactics, another on penalties and another one on time-motion analysis.

I have a mock viva on the 21st November and the actual viva on the 24th. Hopefully just minor amendments after that.

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Our current research

It’s a long time since I have posted about our judo research at Anglia Ruskin. Here is a brief overview of what we’ve done in the last year or so and what we’re working on at the moment.

Firstly who is doing the research….

Bob Challis – My PhD research focusses on the temporal, technical and tactical components of lightweight women’s judo and how these differ from men’s judo and heavy weight judo. I believe lightweight women require different technical/tactical training to men and heavyweights as well as different strength and conditioning because their contests are different. Outside of my PhD research i am interested in talent development, structures around talent development, talent ID, periodisation and monitoring training load. Managing the full-time athletes here means I can consider these from a much more applied perspective than most researchers.

Glenn Miller – Glenn is a PhD student and is looking at Nage-waza across the Olympic qualification period for the Rio Olympic games. He has coded/is coding 8 competitions in this period, the two world championships and six Grand slams. This is over 200hrs of video.

Natasha Collins – Natasha was working as a research assistant, within this role she helped publish research that mainly considered British judo from a technical perspective. Since then Natasha is mainly coaching but is looking at some research and will probably publish in the areas of temporal analysis and shido’s in judo in the next year or so. Natasha is also involved in the application of our research into the training group.

Katrina McDonald – Also a senior lecturer at the university Kat focusses on athlete education as her PhD and has recently published with Maki Tsukada on the coach athlete relationship in judo.

Tara Fitzjohn – Tara is an MSc student. Her work is considering the use of performance analysis in judo. She has interviewed several high performance judo coaches to ask them what they thought would be useful in coaching and then created a code window based on this information. She has now coded around 200 fights of the athletes in our full-time training group and we will use this in our coaching. In the Final stage she will interview the athletes and coaches about how useful it was having this objective information to coach the athletes.

Paul Robertson – Another PhD student, Paul is looking at where coaches look during a judo contest and what they pay attention too. Around 20 coaches have watched judo contests as if they were mastoid whilst wearing eye tracking glasses.

We also have some other judo projects that may lead to publications in a variety of areas including biomechanics, training load management, decision making and the psychological impact of injuries on judoka.

Some of our outputs to date include:

Challis, D., Scruton, A., Cole, M., & Callan, M. (2015). A Time-Motion Analysis of Lightweight Women’s Judo in the 2010 World Championships. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching10(2-3), 479-486.

Miller, G. A., Collins, N. A., Stewart, M. J., & Challis, D. G. (2015). Throwing Technique and Efficiency in the 2013 British Judo Championships. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport15(1), 53-68.

McDonald, K., Tsukada, M., & Chung, H. (2016). Understanding the female judoka’s” coach-athlete” relationship: a British perspective. ARCHIVES OF BUDO12.

Next post I will look at how we are using this in day to day coaching and judo education. In the mean time if you’re interested in doing a judo specific research project then please contact us at judo@anglia.ac.uk.

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World championships 2015 – Team GB

Well, it is fair to say I feel strongly about our performance in the world championship, not just this year but every year. I have attended every world championships since 1999 with the exception of this one in Kazakstan and I feel world championship performance is good indicator of our performance at the Olympic games. So where do we sit?

I have  reported in detail on our performance at previous world championships and my disappointment in no secret. In 2011 we had our worst world championships since 1969 and things have not improved. In Chelyabinsk in 2014 we took four athletes, Ashley McKenzie, Collin Oates, Sally Conway and Natalie Powell, they won four fights between them (two for Ashley and two for Colin). It is fair to say will did a little better this year – we took double the number of players which is good. We won 9 fights in total so I guess our performance hasn’t really improved (it is still roughly 1 win per athlete) but we did get a 7th place. Lets be honest though, a country with a great tradition in this sport and a great budget should not be happy with this result. So what’s wrong? Well the truth is no one knows, if they did we would fix it! But here is some options based upon my personal opinion.

Is it the athletes?

I think the athletes should and will take responsibility of their own performance but I don’t think we can blame the players at all because it is inconceivable to me that any one of them didn’t give 100% and even if one or two didn’t then that wouldn’t explain why the whole team didn’t perform. So as far as I am concerned this is not about the athletes unless you believe that it is their fault for not all moving to one central location and i’ll discuss that below.

Selection policy

There has been a lot of discussion about British Judo’s selection policy for this world championships. Many feel it was too harsh. I think there does need to be a selection process and it should be difficult to qualify, for many years we have sent teams that are too weak for this level based on the fact the player was British number one, there does need to be a balance between the money we’re prepared to spend to send people and their actual chance of medalling. That said there are players who I feel should have gone – Danny Williams, Owen Livesey, Frazer Chamberlain, Gemma Howell, Nathan Burns and Andy Burns all come to mind immediately (of course there are others). Whilst I disagree in general with self-funding maybe this would be a solution here. I think there needs to be a very different mind set in terms of selection, it should be more of a “send them if I can” rather than “send as few as possible”. I also think it is inexcusable for someone who has met the criteria to not be sent!

I certainly don’t have all the answers in terms of selection policy, I don’t think it should be a free for all but at the same time I feel there was a huge injustice in the selections for this world championships. If someone is qualified for the Olympics or within range of qualifying send them, don’t hide bullshit politics behind policy and pretend it is all transparent!

Pre-world training camp

Prior the the worlds British judo run a pre-training camp, they did the same before the Olympics. I have never attended a whole one but I have been to the odd day of some of them and I have always looked at the training programmes for them. My general impression is that they seem good and whenever asked players seem to say they feel ready for the competition and preparation was good (maybe just the standard answer!). Whilst I generally have a good impression of these we maybe should question them, after all the players we send to the world championships can compete on that level. All (most) of them we sent this time had GS and GP medals so there has to be some reason for the performance and they don’t have these pre-camps prior to GP/GS I believe they train at their own training centre.

I’m not saying it is right or wrong, just that we need to consider it.

Centralisation

Well… the premise of centralisation is that you can pool your support services (doctors, physio etc) and that there will be more training partners (because everyone is in one location). My understanding is that after Rio everyone will have to move to the British Judo centre of excellence.

Personally I am not a fan of centralisation for this country, we should remember that this is a system Nigel inherited rather than created and is enforcing what UK sport are forcing us to do (I do not know whether Nigel is a true advocate of centralisation or not but certainly in his current role he gives the impression he believes in it). We should also remember that UK sport are enforcing centralisation because this is what was sold to them in the previous Olympic cycle (maybe even the one before) by performance directors and the then CEO.

My personal opinion is that centralisation will kill British judo and arguably already is. I would be interested to know if anyone knows of a western country where centralisation is working? Please comment below if you can think of one, I would genuinely like to be proved wrong.

I do think however that one good thing to come out of centralisation is the England Performance Pathways and AASE, I wouldn’t say they have been developed because of centralisation but the fact the the BJA is now more focussed on the pathway and the pathway is led from Walsall is good (it is led from a performance environment rather than some office where no-one actually does judo).

British judo in general

Lets be honest, our issue are much bigger than only getting a 7th at the worlds, we could have an all singing all dancing centre of excellence and we’d still struggle because what is happening below that is far from excellent. Our coach education system is far from great, our competition structure lacks, well structure! and our referee education is awful, I mean we’re worried about one 7th place at the worlds, how many referees qualified? All of this needs urgent attention. Furthermore our former chair (and therefore our board) have just allowed us to embarrass ourselves and lose a European championships showing just how disjointed with are from the EJU and IJF.

I know I sound like like a constant cynic and in honesty I am not, there is some great stuff going on but it is hard to sit by and watch our “performance management group” allow this constant repetition of poor performance. It is not fair on the membership and most certainly is not fair on the athletes.

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