Monday, September 23, 2013

Top coaches in elite Orienteering: case of Simone Niggli

Simone Niggli (Switzerland) is a legendary athlete. She won incredible 23 WOC gold medals, 10 EOC gold medals. Simone has one the biggest number of Word Cup events victories in sport history. Swiss runner won World Cup events 63 times (Annemarie Moser-Pröll from alpine skiing - 62; Marit Bjørgen - 59). She has dozens victories in other international competitions (Tiomila, Venla, World Games, JWOC, WRE, etc.).  Also Swiss athlete is 8 times overall World Cup winner (for now 23/09/2013). Simone Niggli tells about her coach Vroni König-Salmi.

Who are your personal coaches? What is the period of your cooperation? 

Fritz Aebi was my first personal coach. I worked with him as a junior and he became like a mentor later on. With the years I planed my training more and more by myself with the help of my husband Matthias. After the birth of the twins 2011 I realised that it was time to make a chance and to get some new inputs. I was happy that Vroni (König-Salmi) started to work as a personal coach for me until today.

Personal coaching is a continuum from rare meeting and discussion different topics with runner (Scandinavian pattern) to design of detailed plans and total control of physical, technical, mental  trainings and recovery programs (Soviet/Russian pattern). What is your pattern of cooperation? Which aspects of trainings is under control from your coach? 

With Vroni my training became more "controlled" by someone else. She helps me to set up my daily phyiscal training which was more selfmade before. As Vroni is also the national team coach we  have also good opportunities to discuss the technical part of orienteering. The mental part is more or less covered by the sports psychologist Andrea Binggeli, but as Vroni is also mother she can help me in these issues as well. I think for me it was another step of development by having a closer contact with my personal coach. Even though I had already a high level, I still became a better orienteer after 2011. I knew Vroni as a team-mate and friend from the passing years, but it was exciting to get her help as a coach now.
What is the feedback system? 

At least one time a week we have contact by phone or mail. As I use an online-diary, Vroni can look at my training (and my feelings with it) as often as she wants to. During trainings camps there is also the possibility of observations during trainings and as Vroni is very interested in orienteering, she looks a lot at our GPS-trackings of the swiss competitions. Since we introduced a partly new strength training, Vroni assisted me some times to introduce it properly.

Qualification and communication are the basement of successful coaching. Can you tell about THREE most valuable skills of your personal coach? 

(1) She has a very big background in orienteering (as a world-class runner herself but also as educated coach);

(2) She is highly dedicated and supportive in my daily business; 

(3) She knows my situation as a mother of three kids very well and can put herself in my position.

Do you use some other services related with coaching now? (e.g., mental trainings coach, dietarian, advisors in some specifics topics - biomechanics, recovery, strength, etc.)

As I mentioned above, I work with the sports psychologist Andrea Binggeli. We started our cooperation 2004 and since then we prepared all the big races together.

What is financing source of personal coaching? 

Vroni is employed at the Swiss National Team as the coach of the Swiss Women. In Switzerland, the personal coaching is more or less complimentary. I just try to give Vroni some small thank-you gifts and get her to know that a part of my success is for sure her work!

Thank you for interesting story. Good luck to you and your nice family!

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