A Winning Weekend in Liverpool!

Liverpool hosted the Boccia UK Championships from the 11 August – 13 August. Players need to qualily from their Regional and National Championships as they battle to become the best in the UK.

You’re probably wondering what a coach gets up to during a competition?!

FRIDAY 11 AUGUST

Players,coaches and support staff all arrived for training, equipment checks and meetings. Some travel by car, others by train or plane. I was very lucky to have the BC4 World Champion Stephen McGuire drive me down.

Training

As a coach I needed to help the Scottish players get used to courts, e.g the speed and any uneven sections. I also helped the players practise different shot types that they might play in their matches and made sure they knew the playing schedule for the weekend.

Equipment check

Players had their equipment checked which was going to be taken onto court, e.g. boccia balls, wheelchairs and ramps. I was on hand with my fellow coaches to support the players if any of their equipment failed and tried to keep them focused ahead of the competition.

Meeting

All the Scottish coaches had a meeting where we discussed our expectations of the players and coaches during the competition, our roles as coaches during the competition and also how the weekend would help to shape the future of boccia in Scotland.

SATURDAY 12 AUGUST

There was a 5:30am wake up call, get up, dressed and ready, breakfast and arrive at the venue before 8am!

Warm Up

You could say that the players who were on first thing in the morning were unlucky but the advantage they had was they had the opportunity to warm up on the match court on which they would play their first round game.

For the players who had a long lie and didn’t start their competition until later on in the day, they  needed to do their warm up on the warm up courts provided.

When the players were warming up I was letting them do their personal warm up routine but helped them to stay focused and motivated.

Call Up Room

The call up room was where the players met their opponents and the referee and where the coin toss took place.

My role was too keep the player mentality match ready, to keep them relaxed if needed and to reinforce key things for them to think of and do during the match.

Game On

During the matches I would watch what the players were well doing well and the things they could work on. I would also watch for any momentum changes during the match and shout encouragements when needed. Watching the opponents was also important to learn their game for future matches.

Feedback

After the matches it was important for a coach to give the players good feedback to take into their next match and the rest of the competition. First of all I asked the players what they thought about their performance and how they felt about how the game went. Then we would discuss some things to think about and work on for the rest of their matches and the rest of the competition, after that, as a coach, I would finish on something positive about their performance to keep the players feeling confident.

Recovery

The recovery period after a match is really important for a player.

So as a coach I needed to make sure players were getting the proper recovery that they needed. This could be different for each player, e.g.:

  • Going out for fresh air
  • Going to the hotel for a rest
  • Getting some light physio
  • Getting some food
  • Listening to music

This was the general formula I used for the full day alongside my fellow coaches.

SUNDAY 13 AUGUST

On Sunday we generally used the same formula as Saturday.

Finishing the Pool Games

It was tough coaching the final pool games because naturally the players would think of every scenario that they needed to get through to the medal matches instead of focusing on their own performance (hmm I know a former player that used to do that). So for me it was keeping the players that I was with focusing on what they could do and let the rest take of itself.

Medal Matches

All the players were thinking about their winning speeches and how they were going to thank me for being a great coach, honestly! In all seriousness the players were busy focussing on their medal matches and their tactics for the games ahead going into the finals.

Celebrations

It was time to celebrate and listen to the winning speeches. OK they didn’t thank me, in fact they didn’t even do winning speeches. To be honest if they did they would thank my fellow Scottish coaches Andrinne Craig, Jennifer Livingstone and Claire Morrison for all the great work they done over the weekend and tell me to be quiet and do some work!

I would like to say well done to all Scottish players, coaches and support staff.

BC 1
Reegan Stevenson

BC 2
Callum Glasgow

BC 3
Scott McCowan – Gold
Gary McCowan (ramp assistant)
Jamie McCowan – Silver
Linda McCowan (ramp assistant)
Patrick Wilson – Bronze
William Wilson (ramp assistant)

BC 4
Stephen McGuire – Gold
Peter McGuire – Bronze
Ross Munro

I would like to give a special thanks to Glynn Tromans, Boccia UK Performance Coach, for letting me shadow him on the first morning.

If you would like to see videos and interview from the Championships then please visit my YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPl68FhmdC3nCzJHC1QbYsA

My email is: lewis.mcconnell@scottishdisabilitysport.com

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