With the competition season quickly approaching, we wanted you to know what it takes to be an Elite Competitor. From the AAAsports Championships to International Events, we have competitors at every level and we provide specific training plans to our top competitors, but what is it actually like to be one?
Many might have seen Bradley train, performing crazy routines with multiple twisting somersaults at a scary height!! This week, we chatted with Bradley and his family to find out what motivates him, how he overcomes his fears and how you can become an Elite Competitor!!
Bradley, how long do you train for each week and why did you get involved in the sport?
I practically live at the centre! I train for 12 hours a week which includes Trampoline & DMT time along with coming in to do a specialised Conditioning Plan. I also do other sports outside of Club, such as basketball which helps keep my fitness up.
Bradley's parents (Jeanette and Dave) added- We didn't want him to go down the route of sitting at a computer, we wanted him to be fit and healthy. We tried Bradley with other sports and he just didn't enjoy them, but from day 1 of bringing him to AAAsports, we knew he loved it!
How long have you been involved in the sport?
I started Trampolining in February 2009 and then DMT the following year, so 8 years, although it feels a lot longer than that!!!
What are your proudest moments or greatest achievements?
In 2010, I won the AAAsports Star Award for the 1st time which was so unexpected. I had only really just begun my journey so this was my first 'big' award and it was great to see how my hard work had been noticed. I think it gave me a boost to push myself harder. But in November, 2016, I competed my hardest routine at League Finals which took place in London at the Olympic Park. It was such a surreal experience and I managed to place 3rd which just made everything worthwhile.
Why do you love this sport so much?
I love how friendly everyone is! It's strange, because if you go to a Football or Rugby Tournament for example, everyone is against each other and so confrontational. Trampolining is the total opposite. Although you are against people in your category, everyone supports each other and cheers everyone on. You tend to move through the age groups/categories with the same people so you bond together and make some great friendships.
Training also helps me relax and forget any problems or stresses that might be going on in my life. When I'm on a Trampoline, I don't worry about what exams I have coming up, or not getting a perfect score on my tests, it's just me, the Trampoline, my Coach and my Team Mates.
Jeanette and Dave added- We love going away to competitions, it's like our second family! The coaches are fantastic and inspirational, everyone supports each other and we have great fun!
How do you motivate yourself when things get tough or fear creeps in?
It is inevitable that things will get hard in the sport I do, but for me, it's about trust. Trusting my self, but most importantly, trusting my Coach, Andi. I always start by persuading myself that I can do it, and when that fails, Andi and Susan help me. They remind me that I can do anything I set my mind to- and they wouldn't let me do it if I was going to hurt myself! I think that's been the most important lesson I've had to learn, but now I know that together, we can tackle any skill!
I think that's why I've had so much success at AAAsports. I can chat with my Coach, we have a great relationship and he can sense when I'm nervous or struggling. The Coaches have seen every emotion from me- especially when I was younger (and went in moods a lot) but they have always given me another chance.
Susan, one of Bradley's Coaches added 'Fear is a major obstacle in this sport. We've had some real blocks to tackle in the past two years among competitors and I'm still trying to broaden my knowledge to understand what's behind them to help our gymnasts in the best way possible. This is still my ongoing challenge! I think the solution really comes down to getting the gymnast to trust themselves or trust in me when they can't find a way!"
How do you deal with injuries?
Luckily, I've never had any major injuries in the sport, but I've seen my Team Mates suffer from them. I think taking your time to recover properly and then coming back with an open mind is key. You can't come back with the fear of hurting yourself again, you have to condition at home and come back determined to be better than ever.
How do you cope with the stress of a Competition?
Andi always says the week before a competition, my training is poor, but we've worked out that's the way I handle it. We now know I have to be 'ready' a week earlier with my routines so I can have that 'off' week. But when I'm at the competition, I like to mess around with my Team Mates, be on the competition floor to familiarise myself and support others. This helps me distract from the anxiety.
When it comes to competing, I totally zone out. I concentrate on myself, need calm people around me and just pretend I'm at a training session. Everyone has different strategies but this seems to be working for me so far!
What are your future goals and ambitions within the sport?
I have always wanted to go to the Olympics! At my current training rate, this could happen so I am staying optimistic and focused. I'm hoping to make the British this year which would be a good step forward. There will be other World Class Trampolinists there as well as some Olympians so this would just be an amazing experience!
We asked Jeanette and Dave what it was like to watch Bradley perform the scary skills such as Triple Somersaults...
It's scary, and very nerve wracking! But we know that Bradley is in good hands, we trust the Coaches as much as Bradley does and when we see the new skills all come together, it makes us so proud. I always say 'that's my boy' and I show everyone videos. He has learnt you get out what you put in and that's a great lesson for any kid to learn!
What would you say to anyone who is wanting to take up the sport- or who wants to quit? And do you have any top tips?
Commitment is the key. You have to keep trying, keep turning up to training and keep trusting your coaches. I was stuck on a skill for 18 months, and at times, I did want to give up, but I know that would have been my biggest regret. I've also recently learned that your coach is ALWAYS right!!!! I used to doubt Andi a lot, saying 'I can't do it' but he as always proven I could do it!
Anyone can start at any age. It's a great, friendly, competitive sport. For anyone thinking about quitting, I would say to try and leave on a high to make sure it's the right decision. Don't quit because you can't do a skill because the coaches will help you over come that. This sport has changed me massively as a person and I am so grateful I have it in my life. It has so much to offer and I couldn't imagine my life without AAAsports in it!
Jeanette and Dave, you must be extremely proud of Bradley?
Bradley has just performed the highest tariff in AAAsports which is a testimony to his hard work and dedication. We are immensely proud of Bradley and AAAsports and we hope Bradley can inspire others to work hard and never give up. Bradley's next competition is in Nottingham. We are hoping he can go out and do his stuff, but to us, it doesn't matter where he comes, as long as he tries his best and enjoys it, we will support him no matter what!!
Look out for Bradley competing at the AAAsports Championships where he will be performing his hardest routine yet!
Good luck Bradley and all our members taking part!!
AAAsports Limited is a company registered in England & Wales, registration number 07339702 Registered Office - AAAsports, Shakespeare Street, Southwick, Sunderland, SR5 2JF AAAsports® and the AAAsports® logo are registered trademarks of AAAsports Ltd