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The first training camp in Bratislava has started. Six female competitors from Slovakia and 3 from the Czech Republic are waiting for an interesting week-long training program ending with races. What can the competitors expect? Apart from the daily training, there are seminars (psychological preparation for the race, interview with successful Slovak kayaker Eliska Mintálová, core & strength training with the world K1 champion Jana Dukátová, etc.).

There is also a week-long group competition - the girls are divided into groups, with one of them leading each time. The goal is for the girls to discover leadership skills in themselves and discover their aptitude to become coaches. We'll keep you posted on each day of the camp!


Training camp in Bratislava continues 

The organizer of the Bratislava training camp is the Slovak canoeing organization, specifically Renata Daníková, Matej Vajda and Martin Stanovský. Slovak coach Jozef Uram and Czech coach Jan Busta are working with the girls. 

All activities take place in the Divoká voda area (www.divokavoda.sk). Today the girls had two training sessions on the wild water, plus two seminars on psychological preparation for competitions. The seminars were in the form of a conversation with Matej Vajda - what worries the girls, what ties them down in the races and what helps them to achieve better performance? A short presentation by Matej Vajda will soon be available for download here.


Third and fourth day in Bratislava 

After a morning warm-up in the form of dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS), a measured training followed. The girls struggled especially with the niagara, most of them had to overcome their fear of difficult combinations. The training was followed by a moderated discussion with Eliška Mintálová, an Olympian and currently the best Slovak female kayaker. The girls discussed with Eliška pre-race stress, long and short term preparation for races, participation in the Olympics, injuries and their impact on career, weight control, diet, school. "I'm an extreme stressor," said Eliska, and most of the girls nodded in agreement to indicate that they felt the same way. Most of the discussion thus revolved around how to manage stress. "It helps me to be well prepared: well warmed up, knowing every detail on the course". 

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The afternoon training was followed by a seminar with another excellent kayaker - Jana Dukátová. The 2006 World Champion and former world number one in the K1 category gave a lecture on the Pyramid of Success. In it she listed 10 factors that, based on her long experience with top sport, fundamentally influence performance in water slalom. Jana also talks about most of them in her educational videos, which can be found on youtube.com under her name @janadukatova.

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After an evening of experiential play, the winning team received a clue to find the quote. On the niagara they found a quote by Steve Jobs: Stay hungry, stay foolish. What did Jobs mean by that? He desire to keep pushing forward and keep believing in success.

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On the fourth day, the girls had a morning warm-up and a quality workout on the water. The afternoon was dedicated to relaxation and rest as they went to Bratislava for a walk, ice cream and coffee. But before that they visited the House of Sport, which also houses the Slovak Olympic Museum. During the guided tour, the athletes were inspired by the fate of Slovak women Olympians, the most famous of whom is probably kayaker Elena Kaliska. Relaxation and rest before the races are very important, because tired female competitors usually have no desire to race.

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Fifth day – preparation for the international competition 

The fifth day of the Erasmus+ Sport Women in Canoe Sport camp was marked by preparation for the weekend competition. Bratislava hosted the ECA Cup, an international competition with more than 400 athletes from all over the world, organized by Martin Stanovský (member of the project consortium). The last pre-race training was followed by a morning seminar on: How to prepare properly before a race. In it, a 24-hour cycle of pre-race ritualisation was introduced to increase the likelihood of the potential to perform individually optimally in races. In simple terms, it was about learning how to get into optimal competitive alignment. The entire cycle was then put to the test as the girls had the opportunity to choose their optimal food, stretch, rest, walk and analyze the race course with experienced coaches, etc.


Weekend competitions

This weekend (23. – 24. 6.) the girls participated in the ECA Cup, an international race with over 400 participants. The results were not important, what was important was that the competitors got to know themselves more thoroughly. They realized what limits them the most in a race. Feedback from experienced coaches, video analysis of performances and follow-up interviews together led to a deeper awareness of performance reserves. Some of the girls were limited by their head and so they and their coaches focused mainly on how to maintain concentration during the race and manage nerves at the start. Other girls recognized their biggest limits in riding technique and some in fitness, i.e. low strength and endurance capacity.

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Overall evaluation 

The smiles of the participants themselves speak the most in favour of the whole camp. The training sessions, the opportunity to share interesting moments as well as their inner fears and frustrations with others, to make new friendships, are the motivation for the girls to stick with the sport and dedicate themselves to it in the long term. The purpose was not only to motivate the girls as competitors, but also for the future as coaches. After all, many of them are considering this option after the camp. This is ultimately one of the goals of the project - to attract young women to the coaching profession, to stimulate their interest in education in the field of technology, physiology, psychology and other fields related to coaching. More female coaches will also attract and retain more female athletes.

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E-mail: busta@ftvs.cuni.cz 

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