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Discussion: Coaching Masters Athletes

in: Orienteering; General

Jan 18, 2021 7:51 PM # 
I found this to be an interesting article. Thought it would be of interest to AP readers.
Jan 18, 2021 8:41 PM # 
Did they purposely concentrate on master athletes in individual/ solo sports as opposed to interviewing master age (ice) hockey, rugby, soccer etc athletes? I would suspect the aim of the game is quite different between the two groups. At least as I look back my goals and approach to hockey and rugby were quite different from orienteering and triathlons which were different again from downhill and cross-country skiing and still different again from golf (which may or may not be considered an athletic activity).
But thanks for posting Hammer.
One more thing: does anyone else feel that the interviewers overlooked one more reason for master athlete participation - the chance to get those elusive podium finishes the athlete missed on in his prime? Should orienteering be splitting the older age classes (from 10 years to 5) to give more orienteers a chance in the limelight? (slight edit there)
Jan 18, 2021 10:20 PM # 
Should orienteering be splitting the older age classes to give more orienteers a chance in the limelight?

Jan 18, 2021 10:39 PM # 
Yes we should have one year age groups so everyone gets a prize.
Jan 18, 2021 11:26 PM # 
Should orienteering be splitting the older age classes to give more orienteers a chance in the limelight?

This is aimed at Canadian organizers, right? The US already has five-year age groups.
Jan 18, 2021 11:33 PM # 
And we're already almost at the point where everybody gets to be on the podium. What is this, T-Ball?
Jan 19, 2021 11:12 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Here in Scandinavia, the 5-year master age groups are quite often both the largest and the most competitive. :-)
This is of course because all of us were active during the golden age of orienteering here, when O was competing with track&field and handball to be the 3rd largest sport in the country (after football and ski).
Jan 19, 2021 7:49 PM # 
Hammer, thanks for posting.

Gordhum, the article stated, the seven Hallmarks of a Quality Masters Sport Experience:
Meaningful Competition
Testing and Assessing Oneself
Quality Relationships
Fun and Fitness
Intellectual Stimulation
Feeling Empowered
Feeling Validated
Are you thinking podium finishes merit its own Hallmark?
The article seems to focus more on the coaching aspect than the organizing or programming aspect. Maybe podium finishes would be more reflective in an individual athlete’s perspective than from coaching and organizing perspectives?
Jan 19, 2021 8:01 PM # 
As a random MA, I would certainly have a greater Feeling Validated from placing 4 or 5th out of 20 than 2nd out of 3.
Jan 19, 2021 8:31 PM # 
What Nev said
Jan 19, 2021 9:28 PM # 
Brian Johnson: I took the article to be attempting to explain the motivation for master athletes and by extension those eligible for seniors games where they happen.
I have seen masters games and seniors games from the inside for some 40 years now. Particularly among the Seniors there are those who will wear their medals from the time they start winning, through all the banquets and other social occasions until the games are over. So yes, to a significant portion of the older population I get the impression that podium finishes matter a heck of a lot to many of us older folks.
Watch at any national orienteering event where medals are awarded. The master age orienteers will wear their medal continuously once it is awarded pretty well to the end of the Award ceremony. The juniors take the medals off as soon as they leave the podium area. (I don't know why they do it but to me it is great disrespect to the event officials.)
I have participated as a master age athlete in at least seven sports. As I explained above the prime motivation for participation differs greatly from one of those sports to another. Most of the sports are just good exercise, comradeship and fun but when it comes to orienteering and used to be in triathlons the podium is a motivating factor.
Jan 19, 2021 11:11 PM # 
How is taking your medal off disrespectful to the event officials?
Jan 19, 2021 11:55 PM # 
It's not much of an athletic achievement to get a medal for just showing up. Thats a participation award.
Jan 20, 2021 12:03 AM # 
I think once you hit a certain age it is an achievement just to finish your course and the medal is deserved. I'm too young to have an opinion on when that is, though I suspect it's not 50 or 60…
Jan 20, 2021 2:07 AM # 
I generally take my medal off pretty quickly. I certainly mean no disrespect to any meet officials. When I was an official, I took no offense. It’s more offensive to me for people to not show up for awards (if they’re still there). But I don’t give it a lot of thought.
And, what Nev said.
Jan 20, 2021 8:25 AM # 
the article stated, the seven Hallmarks of a Quality Masters Sport Experience:

I'm still trying to decide which seven of the eight items listed were the official 7 Hallmarks and which one just tucked itself into the list to feel good about itself.
Jan 20, 2021 1:00 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@Cristina: I fully agree, when you are old enough, just being able to finish both Q and Final races at WMOC is a huge achievement. I clearly remember my first such event, running in the 35-40 group, and then seeing the lone Swede in M90:

At that point I said to myself "If I can both see the map and move around in the terrain and find my controls when I'm 90, then I'll consider that a clear win, no matter which place I finish in."

When my mother turned 80 we, her 5 kids, gave her a trip to WMOC in Brasil which took place half a year later. My brother Knut joined her and won M50, barely beating Jøgge in the long distance final, our mom ran just one of the finals afair.

Now, 5-6 years later she is still running Sørlandsgaloppen where she has been the only one to start every year since the first week in 1965. Her balance is getting a lot worse now however, so I'm not sure we'll see her in W90 in WMOC.
Jan 20, 2021 2:17 PM # 
Thanks for that story. I may have to send it to my kids for inspiration. :)

I think each individual MA gets to decide for themselves what constitutes a win. And if they have a good coach, they'll be on the same page.
Jan 20, 2021 9:11 PM # 
Excellent coaching has absolutely helped me stay (and significantly grow) in the ultrarunning game.

My 'coaching' has been more about the right questions asked prior to each training block, and then an ongoing conversation about sport and life. Looking back at the last few years, my coach has done a great job of touching most of those Hallmarks with me. Mostly I trip up when I'm ignoring him, like the last six months. :)

I really like the Hallmarks and Coaching Approaches, and think they are applicable to all athletes, not just Masters+. They're all really just Good Coaching methods, I think, particularly if the goal is retention in sport, vs immediate results, which should be part of the 'what are you in this for' conversation at every level.
Jan 21, 2021 3:09 PM # 
So I didn't even know about orienteering until I was 28. It takes a lot of time to get good at this 10 years. So I was peaking at almost masters age. My 40 yr old self could beat my 28 yr old self quite handily. I for one am very glad to have the opportunity to compete in orienteering, both against my peers, as well as against the younger crowd, as a "masters" aged person. I wish I would have known about orienteering as a child but that wasn't my reality. So now I'm 40+ making up lost ground!

But it has nothing do with "validation" and easy medals but everything to do with motivation, fitness, fun, and reaching my goals. Racing against other very skilled athletes motivates me to improve. Knowing I have a race coming up motivates me to be more fit. If it wasn't for orienteering races I probably would be in far worse shape because that's the main motivation I have for working out (the military fitness tests are so easy they don't motivate me like orienteering races do). Orienteering is fun. And things like rankings, medaling, team selections, etc can serve as lofty goals to reach for, and ultimately a measure of whether I succeeded in reaching my goals.

I will also say being part of a team is very motivating to me, so participating on the Armed Forces orienteering team, ARDF Team, club relay teams, etc has been a great way to be a part of something fun while also doing things like representing my country, and contributing to a team effort to win. In fact I really like how in the club relays and ARDF team awards all age categories are included in the scoring to measure which club/country has the best all-around talent across all ages...and I've noticed sometimes our best athletes are actually in the masters age range, so we really need our masters athletes to carry us sometimes!

I think masters are just as wonderful an aspect of the sport as juniors, M/F21+, etc.

And when I think of masters specifically I think of the amazing story and example of Sharon Crawford who inspires me in so many ways as my life moves on to more seasoned years.
Jan 22, 2021 4:34 AM # 
Any club coach out there have comments? How does it work with training a MA Jukola team? For NA club coaches, are they on your radar at all?

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