Group Training Vs Solo

Group training vs solo…
The complete opposites, black and white etc, Like most things do they each have positives & negatives?

Group training creates an environment, a type of atmosphere or bubble world that you enter into when you walk through the door. It’s amazing when everyone is upbeat and giving themselves to the exercise, routine or session. Each individual has a role to play impacting upon the group, by adding different values to the session with skills, personality, fitness, mental toughness or competitive nature and so on.

One of the major things affected by this training atmosphere is a naturally heightened intensity getting higher heart rates, better fitness, concentration periods extended and shot consistency improved. It makes it easier to push yourself as you’re pushing others as they in turn push you. I think it works so well amongst athletes because of the competitive spirit, not always trying to beat the other, but pushing them that little extra to see how far they will go and in return you stretch a little further, run a little longer and hit that extra ball or two.

There’s a buma side too, when you have a storm cloud amongst the bunch especially when you’re on a sun shiny day, it can really put a dampener on the session. One person’s mood or attitude can affect the whole groups training buzz and bring an entire storm rumbling out at the end. It’s complex, as player’s approach training differently and being an individual sport it has a tendency to create an ‘it’s about me’ situation. There’s the strict, intense and focused type who can quite often clash with a relaxed, casual approach. Both may be good but putting them together will either make them work great and meet in the middle or cause an explosion of frustration for both.

There can be many reasons as to why someone is better or worse in a group and everyone has the odd day they maybe don’t apply themselves so well, just wait your turn. Anything from lack of sleep, eating habits, travelling and personal circumstances are some outside factors that may impact on a person’s mood. Bringing this into group training is not going to be successful, you have to either leave it at the door or stay at home and do a yoga video!

That mental side of how individual people respond differently to errors or criticism, impacts upon the group as a whole. It’s a fine line handling these situations making it a good test of one’s own mental game that even though they are angry, down or just plain annoying, you have to remain strong and block it out. Similar to match circumstances where your opponent is physical, emotional, frustrating and you have to remain strong. This also applies to yourself when it’s your own emotions escaping you, teaching self-control whilst playing and not mentally 100% focused.
It’s a balance of risk and reward with group training.

Argh and then there’s solo. I used to hate solo. I thought it was the most boring, pointless and silly thing you could possibly do. I went crazy after 5mins! Now I understand that’s what it’s great for, concentration, mental toughness to focus! Introducing discipline into your mind and keeping it there for extended periods.

I’m sure it’s similar in a lot of sports that it’s not every session where you have other athletes to train with, especially those individual sports. Learning how to train on your own is part of an athlete’s development.
Solo is good for more specific work such as technique where you can work at your own pace to really reap rewards from the changes you’re trying to make.

While the intensity may not always be as high as group training or come as easy, it’s a test of oneself. It’s all on your shoulders so there’s no one to blame but you, if things aren’t going right. Identifying and working on constructive criticism requires large doses of positive self talk.

Elite athletes are all generally perfectionists so we can quickly see the negatives and dwell on them, quite often forgetting the importance to provide positive reinforcements as well.

Depending on what kind of solo activity you’re doing, whether it’s movement or technique, the level of physical tiredness is not an essential component. Take me for example, a solo is something I should work on for mental reasons such as concentration. When things become boring my attention span is short, so lengthening that time span before I lose focus is important. Target practice is a good way to keep my mind busy. Again it’s a competitive thing. You want to hit that target and you want to hit it every time!

Gee, until now I didn’t realise how much that good ole competitive spirit really comes in handy!
I guess if you put any sort of game in front of an athlete it’s a pure challenge, no way they could refuse it. I definitely wouldn’t. I often find myself turning boring situations into games like waiting at airport’s people watching, and creating life stories of random passers-by. I’m a regular player of that one.
Either way you look at it, it’s about the challenge and bringing out the competitive nature, the intensity, the games, it’s what we live for be it a group or solo training. (I still choose group!)

& That’s My Athletes Mind…


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