Tag Archives: Performance

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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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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Training Load in Judo

A new research project I am embarking on is considering the use of training load in judo. I am working with one of Comberton judo clubs coaches/athletes who is a student at Anglia Ruskin University where I lecture.

What is training load?

In it’s most simple form training load is the amount (volume) and the intensity (how hard you work) of training in a given period, often a day, week, or month. It has been suggested that training load monitored well can help predict injury (Gabbett, 2016; Gabbett & Domrow, 2007) but other reasons include appropriate planning and ‘peaking’ for an event.

For a few years now I have monitored athletes training load and in recent years I have considered training load in terms of fatigue (chronic/28days) and fitness (acute/current daily load). I started doing this using dropbox and excel, then moved to google docs and I am currently using Athlete Analyser. The numbers we get from the athlete are basic, number of hours training and intensity (RPE), this worked in google docs and excel pretty well but now that we’re collaborating with Athlete Analyser it is much easier and we can collect a lot more data.

 

Reading the data…

The numbers produce a graph and this allows us to consider training status and likelihood of injury. Once we have collected more data I will write a blog post showing how we use the graphs to predict injury and plan a taper.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 12.27.25.png

Figure 1: Screenshot of training load take from Athlete Analyser.

What is our research looking at?

Myself and Holly have been working with the team at Athlete Analyser to develop these training insights because one of the issues we faced with dropbox and google docs was athlete adherence, they’d constantly need chasing up to fill in the documents whereas now the Athlete Analyser app alerts them on any smart phone and reminds them to record their data.

Our research project, which is part of Holly’s final year project at Anglia Ruskin university, is considering training load as a predictor of injury and a variety of other assessments that might help us predict or avoid injury such as strength, functional movement, percentage body fat, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. We also work closely with our club physio Ben Whybrow in terms of injury prevention, I am closely monitoring the taper to see if we can develop research on this and I am working with a masters student on some periodisation research that I will write about in another post. Our participants in the study are full-time athletes and AASE athletes at Comberton Judo Club.

I’ll be posting more about this research and other work we’re doing in due course! Please ask any questions int he comments below.

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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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More BUCS Photos – Markov Vs Morris u81kg

This fight was the semi final of the u81kg, two Anglia Ruskin players – Johnny Morris and Adrian Markov, the fight went to gold score and then to hantei. Adrian won on hantei and this was the only fight Johnny lost out of the 12 he had over the weekend.

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Great Britain at the World Judo Champs 2011 Pt 1 – How bad is bad?

After much consideration I have decided to split this post into several shorter posts. It is no secret that I am hugely disappointed with the performance of the British Judo team over the 2011 world championships in Paris. With only 332 days to go until our u60kg player steps on the mat in the London 2012 Olympic games how can we have our worst world championships since 1969? Who is to blame?

Firstly I want to consider how badly we performed this year, was it really worse than previous years? I have made a table to show how bad our performance was (see below) in comparison to previous world championships.

Championships Gold Silver Bronze 5th 7th
2011, Paris 1 1
2010, Tokyo 1 1
2009, Rotterdam 1 1
2007, Rio 1 1 1 3
2005, Cairo 1 2 1
2003, Osaka 2 1 2
2001, Munich 2 1 2 1
1999, Birmingham 1 3 1 2
1997, Paris 1 3 2
1995, Tokyo 1 2 2
1993, Hamilton 1 1 2 2 3
1991, Barcelona 3 2 3
1989, Belgrade 2 2 5 1
1987, Essen 2 1 3 1 4
1986, Maastrict 3 1 Women Only
1985, Seoul 2 1 Men Only
1984, Vienna 1 1 Women Only
1983, Moscow 1 Men Only
1982, Paris 2 1 Women Only
1981, Maastricht 1 Men Only
1980, New York 1 1 3 Women Only
1979, Paris 1 2 7 Men Only
1975, Vienna 2 Men Only
1973, Lausanne 2 Men Only
1971, Ludwigshafen 2 Men Only
1969, Mexico City 1 Men Only
1967, Salt Lake City 1 Men Only
1965, Rio


This table clearly shows that the last time we didn’t medal in a world championships was 1975 but in 1975 we did secure two 5th places. In 2011 we got one 5th and one 7th place, to find a result this bad by British Judo at the world championships you would need to go back to Mexico City, 1969! That’s 42 years ago! So here we are 332 days away from a home Olympic games with our worst performance in 42 years.

Over the next few posts I am going to analyse this performance and where appropriate I will attribute blame, I don’t like pointing the finger and blaming people but enough is enough! In separate posts I will consider the players, the staff, the BJA, UK sport and the culture of judo in Great Britain.

The next post will be on the players, see you then and please add you comments….

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Great Britain at the World Judo Champs 2011 Pt 2 – The players

My first post on the World Judo Championships in Paris described pretty clearly how our results at this years world championships were below par in terms of comparison to previous results from GB judo. It should also be pointed out that the goals set by UK sport were a minimum of one medal and a maximum of three medals and considering this is what we have consistently achieved in the past I do not think they were asking for too much, especially considering their £7.5m investment of tax payers money/lottery money for this Olympic cycle. But if UK sport are going to improve British judo they need to target their efforts in the correct place, make the correct changes etc so over the next few posts I will consider this from different perspectives.

A good place to start the analysis of our performance is the players. So lets look at the team that was taken and their past achievements according to a brief look at judo inside.

– 60 Ashley McKenzie (u23 European champions 2010, World cup gold, 2011 (Warsaw) and some European cup golds 2010/11)

-60 James Millar  (7 world cup medals, most recent 2011)

-66 Colin Oates (Bronze European Champs 2011, 3 world cup medals)

-66 Craig Fallon (European Champion 2006, World Champion 2005, World silver 2003, 8 world cup medals)

-73 Danny Williams (European cup gold, 2011)

-81 Euan Burton (World Bronze 2010, World Bronze 2007, 3 x European Bronze, 6 world cup medals)

-90 Winston Gordon (5th Athens Olympics, Bronze Europeans 2006, 11 world cup medals)

-100 Jame Austin (3 European cup silvers in 2010/11)

-52 Sophie Cox (2 European Silvers & 2 European Bronze, 10 world cup medals)

-57 Gemma Howell (1 world cup bronze, 3 European cup golds in 2010, 2 u23 European Championships Bronze)

-63 Faith Pitman (2 world cup medals, 7th in world championships 2007)

-63 Sarah Clarke (15 world cup medals, European Gold, silver and bronze)

-70 Sally Conway (3 world cup medals, 5th in World Championships 2009, 2 European cup golds in 2011)

+78 Karina Bryant (7 times world medallist, 4 x European champion, 16 world cup medals)

+78 Sarah Adlington (7 world cup medals, 2 European cup medals in 2011)

Just to summarise, this team had a world champion and 10 other world championship medals, 5 European championship golds & 12 other European medals as well as around 90 world cup medals. I haven’t compared this to other teams but to me it seems like the players are, or at least were capable of medalling at a world level.

Maybe now we should look at how the team did in this years world championships.

– 60 Ashley McKenzie – two wins

-60 James Millar  – two wins

-66 Colin Oates – four wins

-66 Craig Fallon – no wins

-73 Danny Williams – one win

-81 Euan Burton – one win

-90 Winston Gordon – one win

-100 James Austin – no wins

-52 Sophie Cox – one win

-57 Gemma Howell – two wins

-63 Faith Pitman – one win

-63 Sarah Clarke – one win

-70 Sally Conway – no wins

+78 Karina Bryant – two wins

+78 Sarah Adlington – no wins

This gives us 15 players with 18 wins, or an average of 1.2 wins per player. Not only that but we should consider the countries we got some of our wins against. Colin Oates had a tough draw in places (FRA & BRA) but in many respects had an easy draw beating MDA, and GHA (the GHA boy trains in the UK and only 2-3 times per week). Sarah Clark’s win was against SEN, one of Ashley’s wins was against MLT, Winston’s win was against PAN and Sophie’s win was against MAC. Please beware I am not slatting the players for this, all I am saying is that we should be beating countries like SEN, MLT, PAN, GHA and MAC with the judo history and funding of Great Britain.

Some players had some fantastic wins, Colin Oates beat former European silver medalist Zagrodnik from POL in his first fight, he also beat Larose of France in his fifth fight. Karina Bryant beat Sadkowska of POL in her second fight. For me the British player of the week was Gemma Howell, she beat the former world champion, Ribout on home ground, she then beat world bronze medallist Karakas of Hungary in her second fight before she was beaten in fight three by the infamous Isabella Fernandez of ESP in a tactical fight and lets be honest, she can play tactics with the best!

I think it is fair to say we have a fairly old team and although many of them have world and European medals some of them haven’t medalled at this level for a while. But I also think if you took Euan, Sarah C, Karina, Craig, Winston you could/should expect one or two medals. I also think Gemma, Sally, Sophie, Ashley, Sarah A, Faith could have been expected to finish 5th or 7th and Danny, James A, James M should have expected to be around 9th.

Is this a fair expectation looking at the medals they have already achieved? I would be interested to hear if I am expecting too much, please comment.

If this is what could be expected then  even  performing below expectation should have brought home a medal (maybe two) and 3-4 5th/7th places but we didn’t.

I don’t think we should make excuses, I have read that two players in each weight group causes issues (Nicola Fairbrother) and even our own performance director has said this  “We have to look positively because the Olympic tournament will be half the numbers, with only one fighter from each country, if they qualify, which will make it a much more level playing field.” (Hick’s, August 2011). I would ask this, does a confident country pray for half the numbers? Shouldn’t we be confident with our judo team and the budget we have? Also, lets be honest, every country has the same problem! They all have to compete against two French, two Japanese etc and they don’t have the budget we do, many probably can’t afford to send two players in each weight group, which brings me on to the next topic….

Why did we not send a full team? No 48kg player, no +100 player, no -78 player. We also only sent one player in many of the weight groups, what about Sophie Johnson or Siobhan O’Neil at u52kg? Why not another -73kg player – Jan Gosiewski, Owen Liversy, Lee Shinkin? At u81kg they could have sent Tom Reed, David Groom, I could go on but this post is getting long!

I know some of the excuses that will coming back, Tom, Jan and Megan were at the university world championships just before is one, well okay maybe that is fair enough but I am sure a program could have been put in place. The other excuse is money, well firstly Paris is very close, secondly if you don’t have enough money in your £7.5m budget to send a full team to the world championships then maybe we need to consider someone else managing the budget?

Last thing on this, three players were brought out at the end of the competition for the teams Siobhan O’Neil, Matt Clempner and Matt Purssey – none of their weight groups had two players in from GB so why not fight them?

For me the players aren’t to blame, sure they could have done better but I don’t believe any of them stepped on the mat thinking “I don’t want to win” or “I’d rather be on COD”  and I certainly don’t think they had been out the night before or anything like that. I think they didn’t win for other reasons. In the next post I shall continue this blog topic considering the high performance directorate in British judo and the system within the UK.

Please comment, sorry the post got so long :p

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