Here's a simple transition drill to ensure athletes get their helmets on quickly and efficiently. I stole this drill (with permission) from Kelly Guest, who runs a great youth triathlon program in Victoria, BC. This simple game requires some skill, but may allow smaller/slower/less-experienced athletes to shine. Kelly has so many games and drill progressions that he could write a book. When I borrow drills and ideas from other coaches, I try to remember to give them credit when I use it in my program. If you like this drill, and end up using it in your program, don't forget to give a nod to Kelly when you introduce it.
KELLY GUEST HELMET CHALLENGE
- place helmets in front of athletes on ground
- straps out and untangled, hands behind back
- bend at the knees (squat), rather than at the waist
- grab the straps, and follow strap down to the buckle
- calm and controlled usually beats fast and panicked
- 1 to 3 (or more) rounds
- 1 Round = squat, pick-up helmet, stand-up, secure helmet, squat and touch ground, stand up, unfasten helmet, squat and put helmet (gently) on ground, stand up
- Be gentle with the helmets, don't drop or damage them. Consider using a softer surface (ie. grass)
- Sometimes we use an elimination format (ie. slowest athlete is 'out'), but remember that you are essentially increasing the amount of practice reps for the most skilled athletes, and reducing the practice reps for the less skilled (or less speedy) athletes
- Reward the improvements of all athletes
- Ask the fastest athletes to share their secrets with the group
- Evaluate skill transfer to transition workouts or race execution - can they achieve this level of execution in a race environment?
MODIFIED KELLY GUEST HELMET CHALLENGE
You can make an endless variety of modifications to this drill: incorporating a run; making it part of a relay; setting up groups of 2-4 for small elimination rounds; parent/athlete challenges; as part of a swim set. Your most creative variations will probably come from asking the athletes to develop modifications. Keep changing things to continually challenge the athletes and keep it interesting - after initial skill acquisition, varying the parameters of the game and the environment will enhance skill performance.
Special thanks to the Guelph Marlins triathletes for demonstrating this game!