That Shot!

Sometimes you are in the right place as a player and if you are fortunate as a spectator.

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This morning (Australia EST) I had the great good fortune to see live Roger Federer‘s shot (6-5 third set, 30-0) to take his US Open semi-final to match point. He described his shot in the immediate after game interview as his greatest shot ever. (See AFP story here with image, and an early example on YouTube.)

What was wonderful about the shot in real-time was that it looked possible. He created time to execute a shot practiced many times in training. I think it will become an iconic moment in tennis history and the slow motion replays of the stroke have some great spontaneous moments of recognition. Novak Djokovic, the crowd and Roger Federer have wonderful reactions.

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In one moment it brought back Johann Cruyff‘s drag of the ball and gave a great opportunity to celebrate virtuosity. This virtuosity redefines and transforms what we think a game is.

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These moments leave you happy that you were around and for coaches and athletes offer new possibilities.

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Judging Canoe Slalom 2009

This blog post brings together three earlier blog posts about judging gates in canoe slalom with the 2009 ICF rules.

Video 1

This is a brief video to support the training of officials for gate judging in canoe slalom. The video was filmed at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium in July 2009 at the Selection Race for the World Championships. The gates used in the video comply with the ICF’s Canoe Slalom Competition Rules 2009 (see Sections 27-30 for information about Marking of the Gates (27), Negotiation (28), Penalties (29), and Signalling by the Judges (30)).

There is no audio commentary in the video to enable any user to create their own voice over. There is a water sound track. The video has an embed code. The video was compressed for this blog post (approximately 25 Mb). There is a 1Gb file available if required.

Key Points

  1. There are two sets of four gates.
  2. Gates 1-4 involve two of the new gate set ups. Gate 1 is a downstream gate where the paddler must pass to her or his right to negotiate the downstream gate correctly. Gate 4 is an upstream gate on the left side of the course. The video shows the gate line of both these gates.
  3. The sequence of Gates 14-17 has two ‘new’ gates and a split gate. Gate 14 is an upstream gate on the left side of the course. Gate 15 is a split gate and the paddler must negotiate it to her or his right of the top pole. Gate 17 is a downstream gate and the paddler must negotiate this to their left of the single pole hanging over the water.
  4. Examples of C1M, K1W and C2 paddlers negotiating the course are included in the video.

Note that the video illustrates the potential lines of recirculation for gate 1 if a paddler misses the pole to the left.

Video 1 is included here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Australia licence.

Video 2

This is a companion video for Video 1. The video was filmed at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium in July 2009 at the Selection Race for the World Championships. The gates used in the video comply with the ICF’s Canoe Slalom Competition Rules 2009 (see Sections 27-30 for information about Marking of the Gates (27), Negotiation (28), Penalties (29), and Signalling by the Judges (30)).

The video is taken from a different perspective than the first video. The aim is to show the sequence of gates.

There is no audio commentary or sound track in the video to enable any user to create their own voice over. The video has an embed code. The video was compressed for this blog post at full quality (60 Mb).

Key Points

  1. There are two sets of four gates.
  2. Gates 1-4 involve two of the new gate set ups. Gate 1 is a downstream gate where the paddler must pass to her or his right to negotiate the downstream gate correctly. Gate 4 is an upstream gate on the left side of the course. The video shows the gate line of both these gates.
  3. The sequence of Gates 14-17 has two ‘new’ gates and a split gate. Gate 14 is an upstream gate on the left side of the course. Gate 15 is a split gate and the paddler must negotiate it to her or his right of the top pole. Gate 17 is a downstream gate and the paddler must negotiate this to their left of the single pole hanging over the water.
  4. One K1M is shown.

The paddler negotiated both parts of the course without penalty. An interesting point is that Gate 16 is moving before the paddler enters the gate line. From the perspective in the video a judge sitting above the gate cannot see the bottom of the pole. During the race there was a judge in line with Gate 16 on the left bank and a second judge above the gate on the bridge.

The video is included here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Australia licence.

Video 3

This is a short test of C1M judging.

The video was taken from the top bridge at the Penrith Whitewater Course, Australia. There are four gates in the video. The video is in an m4v format. It may need to play all the way through on some computers to give you the option of replaying it.

The first paddler (Bib 7) negotiates the first three gates all downstream correctly and is judged clear. There is a fourth gate an upstream gate on the river right of the course.

The video shows five more paddlers:

Bib 1

Bib 2

Bib 3

Bib 5

Bib 6

This document provides the penalties given during the event.

More information about the videos and how to download them can be found on the CSAus wiki page http://csaus.csp.wikispaces.net/Officiating in the Section titled Developing Resources for Officials.

Minds on the Margins

The blog posts I am writing at present are being informed by the opportunities I have for listening to ABC Radio and for reflection on daily car journeys to Canberra. Last Saturday was a fireworks in the head kind of day for me.

As I was leaving Braidwood I tuned into Radio National’s All in the Mind program hosted by Natasha Mitchell. I had finished writing about personal learning a few hours earlier but was still thinking about biography and opportunity.

The program was trailed in this way:

A life on the streets or behind bars isn’t what we hope for our children. What leads them there? Mental illness? Family breakdown? Economic hardship? Two groundbreaking studies are fundamentally challenging the assumptions we make about our most marginalised, and the state of their mind.

The more I listened to the program the more I thought it helped me clarify my thinking about talented athletes. It reminded me too of the aphorism that falling is like flying … only the other way round.

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One of the contributors to the program, Eileen Baldry described her life-course work in detail. She observed that:

  • People with Mental Health Disorders and Cognitive Disabilities are over-represented in the Criminal Justice System
  • Post-release these people have high rates of homelessness, unemployment, low levels of family support and therefore more likely to return to prison quickly.
  • Interventions are hampered by lack of overall and longitudinal system impacts.

Her study was designed to integrate criminal justice and human services trajectories to explore these life-course experiences. Bill Martin (2007) has noted that “changes in how people combine education with life-course transitions will influence when and how people make their skills available to the labour market throughout their lives”.

Guy Johnson (2008) and his colleagues have explored a ‘pathways’ approach to describe the progress through homelessness. A review of Guy’s work notes that:

the pathways idea has gained increasing research interest as a way to capture the dynamic and differentiated nature of homelessness and other social phenomenon… the pathway approach distinguishes between the paths different groups of people travel into homelessness and examines what bearing different pathways into homelessness have on people’s experiences of homelessness and their routes out of homelessness.

Guy’s research identified five typical pathways into homelessness: domestic violence; housing crisis; mental health; substance use; and people who have their first experience of homelessness before turning 18 years old. (See here for more information about Guy’s work on pathways and biographies.)

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These life-courses and pathways are illustrated in a number of research reports. Jake Najman and his colleagues, for example, have conducted a range of longitudinal studies in adolescent behaviour that report birth cohort data. Some of the issues addressed include predictors of drug use, obesity, development delay and socio-economic disadvantage, early pubertal maturation and behavioural change, pre-natal exposure to alcohol and smoking, and body mass index predictors. Chris Chamberlain‘s work explores youth homelessness.

Guy Johnson and Chris Chamberlain (2009) have discussed perceptions of the homeless and mental illness. They observe that:

In Australia, it is widely believed that most homeless people have mental health issues, and that mental illness is a primary cause of homelessness. This paper uses information from a study of 4,291 homeless people in Melbourne to investigate these propositions. The research found that neither proposition was plausible. Fifteen per cent of the sample had mental health issues prior to becoming homeless, and 16 per cent developed mental health issues after becoming homeless. For those that had mental health issues prior to becoming homeless, it was the break down of family support that usually precipitated homelessness. For those who developed mental health issues after becoming homeless, it was often their experiences in the homeless population that precipitated mental illness. Regardless of whether mental illness preceded or followed homelessness, most people with mental health issues experienced long-term homelessness.

The All in the Mind podcast explores these issues in conversation with Eileen, Guy and Chris. Each of them has a clear sense of the policy initiatives and investment required to address these issues.

Just like falling is flying I think losing is like winning … only the other way round. In a society that has profound issues around homelessness and disadvantage another sector identifies and develops those with a perceived and valued different set of attributes. There are, for example, talented athlete pathways and talented pupil schemes in the United Kingdom. In Australia there is an on-line (eTID) program to “find out today if you, or someone you know, could be Australia’s next sporting champion by taking an online test”.

Reflecting on the issues addressed in the All in the Mind program and my own involvement in elite sport, I am struck by the fine line that separates and links Minds on the Margins. One of the aims of this post is to bring together two groups of ideas that are not often linked but that have enormous synergies. I realise too that I have an opportunity to bring these two groups together physically around the practicalities of social inclusion.

I believe sport is a life-changing experience that can be used to engage with different life-courses and pathways. These life-courses are connected in a caring society. Flying, falling … winning, losing reaffirm that no one is an island.

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