Zoe Gillings, the country’s number one snowboarder will soon be challenging for a medal in Vancouver. Competing in her second Winter Olympics, she will be hoping to improve on her quarter final appearance in Turin in the Snowboard Cross event on the 16th February.
Over the past 6 years, Gillings has utilised the breadth of English Institute of Sport (EIS) support services including Strength & Conditioning, Performance Analysis, Performance Psychology, Physiotherapy and Sport Medicine out of her British training base in the south west.
Initially her support was focused on rehabilitation from a potentially career ending injury, however the key areas of focus she had been working on during her summer training with the EIS has been on improving her start gate times with the help of EIS Strength & Conditioning coach, Liz Sinton and EIS Psychologist Deirdre Angella.
“Zoe’s Strength & Conditioning programme was predominantly focussed on improving physical qualities related to start performance. Reaction time, strength and power specific to the start gate were the areas providing most benefit in supporting performance” said Sinton. “With the help of a start gate built with the support of UK Sport we were able to look at not only improving on her previous best times but to add consistency to her performance.”
To prepare Gillings for the start gate dropping, EIS Psychologist Deirdre Angella collaborated with Sinton to make the most of the physical work done by utilising the psychology skills Zoe has developed.
“I have worked with Zoe on a number of aspects of her performance over the past four years , the focus in the last 2 years has been on faster starts. Zoe and her coach identified the need for different types of start, for use depending on how the start is built and the course design. The components of the starts were broken down into ‘chunks’. The benefit of having the start gate on site was regular opportunities to experiment and learn what worked. Once we identified what worked, performance routines were established and practiced so that when in a race situation she knows what to focus on and can do it automatically without conscious thought,” said Angella.
As is key for all winter sports, transferability of learning must be a priority. In her support programme, there has been a significant emphasis on transferring what has been learnt in Bath back on to the snow and vice versa. Summer training provides the opportunity to focus on the sport specific elements that can make a real impact on the snow.
Sinton continued, “With the help of video technique analysis, we’ve worked closely with both her and her coach to make sure that we’ve got all elements of her start covered; the variations in starts required, speed, power, reaction time and consistency. Zoe’s starts have become faster and more consistent with her performances improving as a result. So now the time has come and it’s up to her to now to put it all into play and we hope, return to Bath with a medal.”
This article originally appeared on the English Institute of Sport website.