After league play last week I had an epiphany about my role. Back in the day, when we did league play at Dogwood I was philosophically disposed to take the “long view” on the performance of my students. My objective in league play was to see how my students used the skills that we were teaching to solve the puzzle of competition. And frankly, the weekly league (8 years … 48 league runs a year) directed me on the content of instruction because it helped to identify tangible weaknesses that needed to be addressed by that instruction.

But now our club is competing with other clubs on the continent. Now my role must be that of a coach. By rights I must counsel my teammates on handling strategy and games strategy so that we can hoist our performance scores.

That is not to say that I shouldn’t be shaping curriculum to specifically address the needs of each student who comes to train with me.

In the Building

This evening we have both an Advanced/Masters class and a Beginner class. We need a strong focus on contact training and performance for both groups. The set of the floor will reflect this. I’ll be setting up something like this:


On the Field

This past week we had a three-day camp here with Sue Sternberg and her posse of dog agility fans. We got to run several courses from the National Dog Agility League catalog. I’ve left one of those on the field. We’ll start with this course in the Masters class this evening. This will give me an opportunity to explore my new role as Coach.


To tell you the darned truth, I’ll probably hold my piece until I watch my team walk this course. I’ve always said that I can tell exactly how a run is going to go for a handler by watching them walk the course. This will give me the chance to intercept awkward approaches to solving this course puzzle.

What would you say are the bits that could use the services of a coach?

  1. The initial approach to the weave poles is interesting. The dog A-frame looms as more of a wrong course option than you would think. The handler also should preposition himself for the dismount of the weave poles.
  2. The handler needs to drive for the presentation of jump #8. While there is no actual refusal fault for the dog passing up the jump, we don’t want the run to go wobbly here in the thick of things.
  3. The second approach to the weave poles is a virtual backside. The duty of the handler shall be based upon the dog’s skill in gaining the entry from an acute angled approach. Know thy dog.
  4. The final bit down the right side of the ring begins with a back-side approach to jump #16 and then a long straight stretch to finish the course. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a dog who can be sent down that line of jumps?

Cedar’s Progressive Send Training

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a dog that can be sent down a line of jumps? This allows the dog to work at full speed rather than waiting for his ambling handler.

I just put this up on YouTube:


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

One Response to “Coach!”

  1. Emily Smith Says:

    Great Blog post!

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