Wii and Dog Agility

Okay, lots of you are using Wii so this one is for you (and those of you thinking of buying a Wii).  I have Wii Fit,  Play and Sport. I think the Wii Play is just a glorified video arcade.  The other games are worthwhile with the warning there are a lot of Wii injuries out there, so you must be careful, especially with the games that have you wildly swinging at the air (boxing, tennis etc).  Unfortunately I do not have  a magic way to get dog agility up on my Wii screen. Nor do I have a way to get the dogs using the game (yet:)), however I do see a real connection between Wii and the sport we all love so well (dog agility).  

It hit me as I played a few days ago.  I am using Wii most for the social aspect of a bunch of us getting together and having fun and the balance games. Although Hula can be a real ass-kicker (and a belly laugh when you watch the likes of Greg Derrett doing it, oh my,  it is like he is seizing or something!). It is the balance games that I think will have  real impact on your dog agility. First of all, there is the obvious reason, the balance thing. How many of you have tried to come out of a front cross and lost your balance on your second step so that you end up with your centre of gravity being behind you (this is often when calve muscles are pulled btw).  Any time you can play games on or off a Wii that improve your balance will benefit you in dog agility.

Another area that you will improve is through playing the Soccer game. That is the one where you have to head the ball but also duck out of the way of flying Panda heads and shoes (I think former US President George Bush demonstrated that he Wiis when he ducked that shoe at the news conferences in the middle east last year).  I see a real connection between your ability to watch your dog and react to him in agility and this game where you observe the objects coming at you, make a decision and act on that decision. **Little Wii hint for you, the key to this games is to watch the ball as it is being kicked not as it approaches you.

But here is where I see a massive benefit to playing Wii, it is to your mental prep for dog sports.  How many of you lose your concentration partway through a run you when you are otherwise acing it?  Likely it is a really important run, say the last leg of a double Q or a big qualifier or perhaps even a “finals” class. Things are going along swimmingly and then you let your “conscious mind” know how good you think you are doing.  I have done it myself many times. When you allow your conscious mind to play a role in your run it will immediately say things to you like “wow, don’t screw up now” or “if you can just not make any errors you can go clean.”  Once thoughts like that enter your head, your focus has been taken away from your run and more often than not it is difficult to get it back without a “hiccup” in the run. That hiccup can be your downfall, that is when you are out of position or cue a turn incorrectly and disaster flows.  

Here is where the Wii comes in.  It is in playing games like soccer  or downhill slalom skiing. When I play either of these games I want the perfect score. A clean run under 24 seconds in skiing or  no hits to the face with any flying distractions and no misses of any balls in soccer. I can do it pretty regularly on the lower level but it is a massive challenge (have come as close as 1 missed ball away from it) on the advanced level.  Here is where my conscious mind comes out to distract me the way it used to earlier in my agility career. I may be nearing the end of a Wii Skiing or Soccer and I allow myself to think “wow, almost there” and then wammo, I most often will screw up. I think this is great training.

There is normally no pressure when playing these games alone as there is no “competition”, nothing to play for.  Which is why I play for the perfect game.  For most normal human beings this can just be playing or your personal best score.  While doing this you automatically put “pressure” on yourself like you would during an important agility run.  When doing this don’t pay attention to the score of that game but rather to see if you can maintain your focus without allowing your conscious mind to interrupt you right to the end.  Do that until you can successfully allow yourself just to “play the game.”  That is when you are going to be at your best in agility (and it Wii btw). When you are just focusing on your dog and your own handling maneuvers, not thinking about any possible outcome while you are running you will always be at your best.

Since I have been recovering from this flu I have not been able to work out (still have a massive chest cold). I have been playing Wii as a way of doing “something” without taxing my body while I get better. Lately when I have played,  I have purposely created those conscious thoughts as a distraction to my performance.  This way I have been able to challenge myself to being able to  be distracted and then recover from it without allowing it to effect my game. It is like playing a mind game with myself to improve my own mental prep for sport.  

Either way you play it, there are ‘extra’ benefits from Wii that you may not have thought of before. I hope my OCD personality has not just ruined your enjoyment of the video game.  You know it also is okay to just jump on the Wii and have some mindless fun, I also do that on occassion (ok, I admit not so much, everything ends up being a competition with myself at some point:)).

Today I am grateful for that fact that even though I am not 28 anymore, I still love to play any kind of game or sport that is going.

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