Monday, April 5, 2010

What Are Your Goals?

Hello again, friends, sorry I haven't posted in a few days, Easter and the kids' spring break have had me pretty distracted. When the kids are out of school it's hard to do much with the dogs (anybody else have this problem?).

Today I was thinking about goals. I'm pretty big on goals -- I'm one of those people who really needs to have specific things to work towards, preferably with a deadline, in order to get my ass in gear. (This applies to all aspects of my life, not just flyball, but this is a flyball blog. Feel free to read my other blog if you care about the other stuff).

I have all sorts of goals when it comes to flyball. Club goals, individual team goals (Multibreed, etc.), goals for each of my dogs, goals for my handling, even goals for this blog.

Prop-a-Ganda has done a lot for me in terms of training motivation. I love posting training updates and reading your comments. It's fun to be excited about flyball again.

During most of 2009, the only flyball goal I had was to go to a tournament every once in a while and run a couple of my dogs. Help out the team, socialize, get a weekend away from home to chill out with friends. Nothing stressful. I'm pretty competitive in general, so of course I tried hard once I was actually at the tournament, but I wasn't putting in any time at home. No training, no practices for months on end.

This year I'm more fired up. But I've also realized that when it comes to tournament goals, you can't put all your eggs in one basket (belated Easter pun). Otherwise you might end up having a disappointing and crappy weekend.

For example, let's say your club puts together a stellar new lineup of dogs. You know that together these dogs, if everybody was "on" that weekend, could pull out your club's personal best time, or win regionals, or break a world record (for the 10 people this actually applies to), or whatever. You're psyched! You get to the tournament on Saturday morning and your heart is beating a mile a minute!

And then, something happens. The start dogs burns a pad. One of your handlers hurts their back and their dog won't run fast for anybody else. The height dog, who has run perfectly for years, suddenly decides that this is the weekend to start running around the jumps or spitting the ball (that one actually happened to me with my ONYX'd Jack Russell...argh!). The dog that ran low 4's last tournament managed to get into the trash can a few days ago and ate itself to tick-like proportions and is now running 5.1's. The list goes on and on.

Your whole weekend could be ruined, just like that. Unless you had other goals beyond this team's performance.

Some of the things I like to focus on at tournaments:

My passing
Even when the whole team is a Cluster-F, you can still work on your own passing or starts.

My dogs' performance
I like to try to get personal best times for my dogs, or at least see really good times from my experienced dogs, no matter which team they're on. It means I really have to pay attention to how I warm them up, IF I warm them up (some of my older dogs run faster with no warm-up), how I care for them in between races (water, cool-down, walking, etc.), preventive maintenance (wrapping their feet, administering metronidazole right on schedule for the stress poopers), my passes/starts, and how I psych them up and play with them in the lanes. I try to treat my dogs like rockstars in the ring no matter how the team is running.

Green dogs
There are always green dogs warming up on our teams (I think we had 5 this past tournament), and I love helping out with them. It's even more fun (and stressful) when one of my dogs is warming up.

Sometimes we're all just happy when our dog can do a recall without chasing anybody in the other lane. Other times the lightbulb comes on and the dog is GETTING IT.

If we have a team that isn't running that well and has no chance of placing, I am all for putting in a green dog in lieu of earning points so they can get some experience in a tournament setting. I really don't care if my dogs get points or not (topic for another post ;)) -- to me, getting a green dog up and running is more valuable from a team perspective.

Big titles
That being said, you can also count on me to help a dog reach a title. Just let me know in advance, that way I'll do my best not to screw anything up so we can go for max points.

I was at a tournament a few months ago where we ran a Veterans team and each of the four core dogs reached a major title. It was also the retirement weekend for one of the dogs. It was very exciting and everybody cried each time one of the dogs reached their title. We ran 4 or 5 teams that weekend, even broke the club's personal best time with our Multibreed team, but were all most proud of that little Veterans team.

Helping others
I love calling passes or teaching a newbie how to pass.

Team dynamics
Sometimes your teams can all be losing and you all look like you never played flyball before, and you're still having a blast because you and your teammates are in the fun zone.

I don't see most of my teammates outside of flyball, so tournaments are my chance to hang out and catch up with everybody. Sometimes I get lazy and park my van close to the building instead of by the RV's (mostly because of Punk), but I try to make it a point to hang out with the gang as much as possible.

Keeping your cool
Sometimes it's my goal to just get through a tournament without losing it. It's hard to be positive when the weather is horrible, or the racing surface is made out of mulch, or all your dogs have a stomach virus and there's no hose in sight, but I try really hard to keep from snarking at anybody (I've gotten much better about this through the years).

One lesson I've learned is that EVERYBODY makes a mistake sometimes. If you jump all over a teammate's ass for something -- a bad pass, double false start, getting in your way while you're trying to pass, repeatedly swinging their borderstaffy into your shins (ok, I'm guilty of that one) -- I guarantee you'll make the same mistake at some point, and then who's going to look like a moron? I'd rather give everybody the benefit of the doubt, plus I want them to be nice to me when I screw up, so I try to keep my mouth shut in the runback area.

And then there are the tournaments when you drive up to the tournament site and see a giant rooster statue and you think: I've GOT to get a photo with this rooster this weekend.

So -- what are your tournament goals?


Kim said...

For training - Let's see my goals are usually set high but I am also realistic in that it may not happen. I believe that you need to train a dog and you must have high expectations of them or you may end up not getting the best out of them. I want a quick snappy turn but you know not all dogs are capable depending on the build, ortho issues, etc... but you can still try to get it. Some dogs may go with a 3 footed turn, I want a dog who can learn to pass anyone, anywhere in the lineup, I want a sub 4 dog but well I will settle for my low 4 second dog and my other sub 5 second dogs. I have an acd in training who has potential so we shall see - there are some acds that go sub 4.

At tourneys - my dog goals are Foster not being a spinning cattledog, Riot running well and not having one race that is slow and being a ball spitter for that same race and if Tempe runs that she brings her confidence gene to the tourney and does well. Aspen is Aspen and if he runs I just want him to catch the ball :)

As for club goals, I always want us to go out there and do the best that we can. We don't have many consistent dogs (meaning-consistent speed, no bobbles, good passing, etc...) so we want to do well in our given division and get points. We are a not a fast club and our fast dogs are split amongst the different teams we enter so everyone gets points. This is not necessarily what I always want as I do like running fast and being competitive (hence playing U-Fli with CIA/HH).

My individual goals at a tourney - get my passing down and not to blow a gasket :) I rarely blow a gasket but there are tourneys where everything seems to be going wrong and it is frustrating. I also try to help whomever needs it whether it is my club or someone else's.


Kate said...

I think it is funny how my goals have changed so much over the years. I have been playing for 4 years now and I started just being happy when I could catch Emma in the runback before she went to grab all 8 balls that were being returned. Emma has maybe screwed up about 10 times ever (as far as jumping all 8 jumps and getting her ball), so I didn't have to worry about that, but when she came back, I had to have a harness to be able to grab her!
For a while (and still kinda now), my goal was the be the fastest golden in u-fli. She has done that every year she's been running - 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and she has set the bar high for 2010. I am thrilled about that, but really, my goals for Emma now have shifted to points. I never thought I'd be one of those people who was fighting for points and tracking how many she would need at this tournament before getting a title. For me, it just shows me that all my hard work and money paid off with this rescue dog with tons of health problems. It is very satisfying that she now has 20,375 points in u-fli and 15,000 in NAFA. Small beans for many of you, but I'm proud :)

Vito on the other hand is the second child and I have no clue how many points he has LOL!
He was my first puppy to start, so the goals for a very long time were about just getting him to touch the ball, then to jump all jumps, then not to chase, etc. He ran in one lane for 4 months! But now, my goals for him are to improve his box turn and to beat his fastest singles times.

At a tournament, my personal goal is to keep my cool. I am so very competitive, so it is tough for me to control my emotions - good and bad. I also LOVE to help other teams, whether it is running dogs, boxloading, or just being supportive. I do NOT like to call passes -- I'm no good :)

So I think goals change the longer you play with the same dogs. For me, having no new puppies, my goals went from just getting the dog to do its job, to winning the division, to running for speed, and now with emma, running for points.


Susan said...

My current goal is to not get so paralyzed worrying about training my new puppy wrong that I don't get anywhere at all.

Kate said...

Susan, I think I can speak for EVERYONE when I say that we ALL worry about that! I still worry about it with 3 and 5 year old dogs! I'm sure you're doing great!

Kristie Pope said...

My goal is to get through a weekend without showing butt crack. I'll tell you when I get there.

leerie said...

Kristie, at least your crack pales in comparison to the region 9 crack queen that has been showing the WHOLE crack (almost the crack hole). Coming soon to a tourney near you.

Lisa, these are all really great points you made above. And it's so very hope all the planets are aligned, and think they are...and then you get lemony snicket series of unfortunate incidents at the it's great to have multiple goals you can achieve.

Lisa Pignetti Murnan said...

Kristie, I love your bungee cord belt.

Leerie, I have no idea who you're talking about (the crack queen) but i'm sure i'll know it when i see it. Perhaps in Blacksburg? :)

leerie said...

It's bound to make an appearance in Bburg. You can't miss it. Just be careful what you wish for, because once you get a glimpse, this full moon can never be unseen.

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