Your presence, intent, and demeanor set the stage for all that the team experience. Through your lens and actions, the dog and team view and navigate the world. Do what you do well. Make your dog look good. Have fun as a team.
Playfully explore the game. Observe players and training methods while withholding judgement. Shift your training attention to the mundane: Position, Flatwork, Wait, a reliable trigger; there is far more amazing stuff going on between the tricks than you could possibly imagine.
When comfortable with a skill or a sequence, don’t just do it, explore it. Seek the Way of it.
The handler’s way of things impacts the dog and the team. When something goes weird with position, set up, or even disc handling by the dog, look at yourself before looking to the dog, the disc, or the environment.
Odds are you can look down and see the problem right there in your feet. If it’s not your feet, it’s probably your personal patterns, timing, and behavior. Placing us, the handler, outside of the game or in the role of a coach, puts us above the game while in reality we’re neck deep in it.
To play while you coach is to do each with one eye and twice the responsibility. Place your self within the way of things as a player and be present. You will notice some things you do that impact the dog and begin to see patterns that are not yet in your playbook.
You will need to coach at times, it’s part of your responsibility as a handler and trainer. You will have to tear things apart critically and technically and look at things from a coach or manager’s perspective.
Coaching is best done between reps. Get your jam done as a player or your lesson done as a learner or teacher, and then put on the coach’s hat. Allow yourself and the dog time to process and internalize the lesson.