I have just returned from a stint in the Commonwealth Collective, volunteering to support the Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowls & Para Lawn Bowls.
My role was in “athlete services”, so, as a coach, I had the chance to observe how top-class sportsmen and women and their coaches prepared before matches.
There was no obvious pattern — some players sat chatting with team mates and coaches, some put on headphones and tried to “escape”; a couple of players seemed determined to engage with as many people as they possibly could — team mates, opponents, coaches, volunteers, caterers…
Some teams warmed up together. One Triple kept as far apart from each other as they possibly could until the moment when they were sent on to the green.
And some players were under team instructions to reduce contact with others. The Aussie bowlers, for example, knew that a positive test for COVID19 would mean they could not fly home for a week, at least.
The atmosphere before a final was more tense, perhaps, certainly quieter, but some of that could be attributed to scheduling — before group stage matches, we could have 50 or more players waiting to go out; on the last days, just 4 players and their coaches preparing for a Pairs Final.
No quantitative analysis (I was there to look after the athletes, not study them)…but, from a coaching perspective, perhaps the most significant learning was in the variety of behaviours.
And that some teams were successful in spite of not preparing as a team, whilst others were less than the sum of their parts.
So the learning from eight days in the players’ pavilion — everyone is different, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to pre-match preparations.
“coach the person, not the situation”