June 23rd, 2018

Coehoorn’s Corner: Brian Burke speaking at college Wednesday

By Medicine Hat News on March 17, 2017.

Let me lead off this article by announcing what a lot of you already know: Brian Burke, president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames, will be in the Eresman Theatre at Medicine Hat College on March 22 at 6 p.m. Admission is free so make sure that you are there early to ensure that you get a seat!

Burke will talk about emerging athlete development. Emerging athletes can be classified as athletes who are in the developmental phase of their athletic careers. At the Alberta Sport Development Centre — Southeast, we classify emerging athletes as between the age of 13-18, but this does not fully encapsulate the definition. An emerging athlete can be an athlete of any age in the developmental phase of their careers.

There are a lot of challenges associated with the emerging athlete phase. There is not only physical development, but also, mental development.

Physical development has many facets, all of which are being worked on in a synchronous manner. These include skill development, strength development, accuracy and coordination to name a few. Anyone who is an athlete knows the ins and outs of physical development and that it takes several years to master.

I competed in the sport of weightlifting. No, I did not wear a speedo on stage and attempt to look like Arnold Swarzenegger — I lifted heavy barbells over my head and was judged on how pretty I did it.

Within this sport is an immense amount of physical development. The first phase of development is mastery of technique. This is the first phase, but also an ongoing phase as technique in the sport is constantly adjusting along with your strength, speed, and size. There is also a very large strength development component to the sport; I cannot even tell you how many squats I did over the course of my career in the sport. Lastly, there is a coordination component in that it is necessary to make sure all phases of the lifts occur in the proper order and at the right time.

Mental development also has many unique areas. I am not an expert in the field of mental development, but what I do know is that within competitive sports it is the most important factor to success. Every emerging athlete is somewhere between the athlete who is terrified to participate and Michael Jordan.

My personal experience goes as follows: I played football at the University of Calgary from 2002 to 2006. I can honestly say that I was terrified to play on almost all occasions. My legs felt heavy most of the time, and there were a lot of days that I would have rather sat out then stepped on the field. This changed once I got into the sport of weightlifting. After about eight years in the sport, I got to the point where I knew that I was going to win at almost every competition. I won three national championships, a Commonwealth Games silver medal and represented Canada on the national team for three years.

My progress on the mental development cascade was largely a huge desire to not be remembered as an athlete that couldn’t perform. I wanted to be remembered as a mentally strong athlete. I never had a single session with a mental skills coach, even though I’m sure it would have expedited the process of my mental development.

Burke will hit on various subjects related to emerging athlete development when he is at Medicine Hat College next Wednesday at 6 p.m. Come by, and I can assure you that you will learn a lot.

Cory Coehoorn is the coordinator of the Alberta Sport Development Centre — Southeast, which is housed at Medicine Hat College. He would love to hear from you and can be reached via email at ccoehoorn@mhc.ab.ca or via phone at 403-504-3547.

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