Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feathers and Moksha

Who is this Feathers I speak of? It is my partner Chaim, his new nickname is feathers and it has suck in the greatest way possible! He was bragging about incline bench pressing 70's and Ray asked "70 feathers?", the rest is history.

Feathers has unfortunately partially dislocated (subluxed) his left shoulder diving for a ball and will be out for a bit. He will be taking an MRI scan on monday and hopefully we will know by tuesday wether or not he will be able to compete in the near future. We are scheduled to leave for the the Cayman Islands in no less than 13 days so cross your fingers and don't laugh when you see him in his silly cast with an outstretched arm. Hopefully he hasn't torn any ligaments or done any serious damage to his shoulder cause our season is weeks away and Chaim and I have been playing superbly as of late!

And Moksha. Wow, how have I not discovered this sooner! It is a pre-set yoga series in a heated room and it is the greatest yoga practice I have done! Incredible series of stretches, vinyasa's and balance poses which leave me limber, drenched, exhausted yet completely revitalized and energized! I seriously sweat 2 to 3 litres of water in a session so I am convinced this is the best way to acclimatize to our competition environments as classes run 60 and 90 minutes long in the tropical heat.

I am currently practicing at Moksha Yoga Uptown on Yonge St. and St.Claire and they have a few studios scattered around Toronto. A few of the other beach guys have come and together we have agreed that it is an AMAZING way to increase flexibility and detoxify while toning muscles and focusing on controlling your breath/heart rate throughout exercises. I had never heard of it on the west coast (maybe I lived in a bubble) but if you are reading this and want something extra in your life, this is it. Once or twice a week will certainly change the way you feel and will leave you glowing and radiating positive energy!!

Ray and I played yesterday while Feathers saw the doctor and we played well. Should Chaim not be able to travel, Ray and I will spice things up again for some Redheaded Productions so maybe look forward to that. Ray and I are always a force when paired up as we have a tight bond that few other duo's have.

Regardless of my teammates, I am feeling incredible and am just entering the zone I know I can play in.

Excellence all round here in Toronto.

Much love,


Friday, February 19, 2010

End of a great week

Today was KILLER!! We had 8 athletes and a solid training session over some competitive drills. As a team we are starting to pretty consistent ball and we are all pushing each other for the top spot.

Chaim and I played quite well throughout this week and I am looking forward to the next three weeks of more competition based training before flying to the Cayman Islands. Christian Redman and Rich Vonhuizen are playing well and I am hoping we will be able to play a few test matches against them next week to start our video analysis. Our coach still hasn't commented on specific team strategy details and through taping our matches and going over the footage with him, it will allow us to adjust our team play prior to our first competition.

Our next two months are shaping up to be full of events, here is our travel itinerary:

March 12th - 22nd NORCECA Grand Caymans
March 23rd - March 28th NORCECA San Salvador, El Salvador
March 29th - April 5th NORCECA Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
April 6th - April 12th NORCECA Guatemala City, Guatemala
April 13th - April 19th Training in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
April 19th - April 25th FIVB Open Brasilia, Brazil

So that is our tournament schedule for the next little while and it will most certainly keep us busy!

I can't wait to get out of the cold north to catch some rays and play on a real beach! Indoor beach volleyball just ins't as satisfying and the sport is far superior when you have to deal with heat, wind, sun, humidity and a stadium full of fans!

Have a great weekend,


Monday, February 15, 2010

Fear of failure


It is something every athlete must deal with as it is one of the biggest obstacles in a high performance pathway. Fear of failure, fear of injury, fear of not living up to expectations and fear of disappointment to name a few.

In the recent feature with speed skater Jeremy Witherspoon, he expresses his most innermost feelings and really exposed his fears of not succeeding at his third and final Olympics. Incredible to be so open prior to his last chance for Olympic glory in his life. He has multiple world records and is the most decorated skater at the world cup level in the 500 meter sprint but the Olympic podium has eluded him. The Olympics are such a vulnerable time, especially when they are in your home country. I respect him so much for pursuing his final Olympic opportunity after suffering a devastating injury to his forearm at this time last year. Had he quit, he would have succumb to one of the most daunting feelings a professional athlete comes up against; fear of failure. If he didn't risk failing, he would achieve nothing and likely regret it for the rest of his life.

Here is a piece I wrote last year while I was pre-season training and thinking ahead to the 2009 season's challenges.

   "I believe in destiny. I believe I am on this planet to pursue my passions, share them and constantly challenge myself and those I encounter to never stop driving; life it too short to be idle. Comfort leads to complacency, therefore, I will strive for self-improvement in all facets of life.
     I will constantly push past my comfort zones as being in unfamiliar situations will force me to learn, adapt, fail and excel. I am not afraid of failure for it is an obstacle blocking my path; I must overcome it to be a champion. I will not judge my failures as a measure of success. Failure is a natural part of life and how I deal with, recover from, conquer over and persevere past it will determine my success.
     I believe in myself and embrace my fear of failure for it will be a constant reminder to push myself beyond my boundaries; forging to be the best I can possibly be."

                                                      "You are as strong as your drive"


Muscle Myo-Test Video with head Canadian trainer Chris Dalcin

Here is a video I put together featuring my recent physical testing and training with the head trainer at the Canadian Sports Centre Ontario. Chris explains the testing in the video but it is based on measuring my displacement, speed, power, force and muscle elasticity/stiffness. These results will create a graph from which we can determine the most optimal weights for me to specifically train power and speed.

I performed a series of movements and each one measured specific data. I started with 3 separate squats with eccentric loading. Secondly, I performed 5 rapid vertical jumps as quickly as possible. Thirdly, I executed weighted jump squats from a loaded static position (without the elastic muscle reflex) and lastly, we moved to the bench and I performed a barbel horizontal bench press with the same static loaded starting position.

You will have to go with the information Chris says in the explanation but I will post my graph and his conclusion of the data when it comes in later this week!!! Until then, you will just have to take my weak explanation and apply it to the video!

This is one of the reason's I was and still am so excited about being in Toronto training with the National team. We have some excellent trainers, facilities and therapists who are working in conjunction with our National team to push us forward in all aspects of our discipline. 

This test is one of the ways we are going to improve as the days of training based on feel and periodization are passing. Chris wants to move our program to data directed training where we would be constantly receiving feedback on our performance (speed, force, acceleration) and then told how many reps and sets to perform or when to hit the showers. Such a neat concept to be lead by science in every workout; no longer going by feel but by immediate feedback on the quality of your performance. This way you are only allowed to workout when you are recovered and performing optimally, therefore, decreasing chances of injury and increasing performance through perfect execution.

This is the next generation of training and I can't wait to tweak my body and game through some of the best human performance technology Team Canada has to offer.

Believe, achieve, live. See you in the sand

"You are as strong as your drive"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Olympic Parents

One of my favourite parts of the Olympic Games is the features of the athletes from different countries and sports. I am not afraid to admit that I turn into an emotional basket case due to the power of each segment as they feature the sacrifice, often painful pasts and inspirational successes of individuals leading up to and during the games.

As a fellow athlete, fully dedicated to my discipline, I have an empathy pathway with no filter that swells whenever I see a clip of athletic success or defeat. I feel the joy, pain, euphoria and countless sacrifices of each athlete as their story is told. It is so fascinating hearing the stories behind each dream and about the influential people who assisted them in their pursuit of glory. My most sensitive subject is the parents who blessed, supported and sacrificed so their children could commit their lives to attaining an Olympic Gold. That one gets me every time, because, my story could be a lot different if I didn't have parents who believed in me.

Those close to me and especially my extended family know the sacrifices my parents Patrisha and Norman have made for me to live the life I do. At any event (especially in Vancouver) I have the backing of 20 plus family members but more specifically, I have amazing support from my parents who have put themselves last in my pursuit of Olympic glory. They have never questioned, complained or asked for anything in return and they go above and beyond the call of duty in providing me with whatever they can.

Their unconditional love and boundless support IS the reason I am where I am today. Without their constant support my life path could not be possible; they are the reason I am able to do what I do.

I am thankful for their commitment to my success and there are no words that can express my deep love and appreciation for their unwavering desire to help me become the best I can possibly be.

Throughout the features I am noticing a trend. Every parent in the vignettes are incredibly inspirational, supportive, vibrant and athletic themselves. I can relate this to my life as my mother has been preparing mentally and physically to be an Olympic mom for a few yeas now! She is always bringing up her excitement to be interviewed by Brian Williams when I make it to the Olympic Games. That subtle detail is one of many that inspire me to new heights; my mother is an Olympic mom! And to my father who has called me champ since I conquered the womb; you have affected me deeper than you can imagine.

So this thanks goes out to the Olympic parents. They deserve medals themselves as few Olympic Athletes would be able to compete without the amazing blessing of the people who brought them into this world.

I love you Mom and Dad

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sprott Gold Pledge

It recently came to my attention that Eric Sprott of Sprott Investment management has committed to donating $100,000 to the Canadian Athletes Fund for every gold medal earned by a Canadian at the 2010 Winter Olympics!!!

How exciting is that??!!! Incredible that someone would come to the table and not only support the athletes who are currently competing (he donated $210,000 for current athletes) but also rewarding performances for the benefit of all Canadian athletes.

In his quote, Eric Sprott expressed his excitement to invest in our athletes and their pursuit of excellence. This is such an inspiring act of generosity and really builds on the Canadian spirit of these games.

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are the people's games and it was so inspiring to watch the opening ceremony knowing the entire nation came together to create a masterpiece in our history.

If this inspires you then follow this link to make a donation! Athletes Can is where your funds will be directed and they will assist various athletes in funding their path to achieving their Olympic Dreams!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Family Olympics

I created this blog so that family and friends can keep in touch with my travels, matches and overall razy life. I don't need to tell them that we are a special family since they are a part of it, however, for those of you visiting who have no idea who I am or what stock I come from, here is a brief overview.

This is a video I recently created highlighting our family tradition over Dutch Christmas which evolved into a family sporting day extravaganza. This day revolves around amazing food, traditional family poem and various sports. It is an an amazing time and is such an inspiration to me knowing I have such a tight family.

Sadly I couldn't embed the video into my blog because YouTube refused it due to length, so I hope this link to facebook allows you to view it.

Gildersleeve Family Olympicus

Don't be jealous, it is a genetic thing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mid week pump up

It is Wednesday, it is snowing, we are only doing skill based training and I need something to refocus me on the prize. It is my first time pre-season training indoors and let me tell you that beach volleyball is far less gratifying when you are in a sand filled warehouse instead of the packed Brazilian beaches or energized stadium at the Klagenfurt, Austria FIVB Grand Slam.

It is easy to lose sight of what we are training for and this video justifies the painful preparation we go through daily.  It is one of my favourite tournaments because the vibe is outrageous and the focus is purely and simply entertainment based. It should give you goose bumps and stoke your internal drive as it is fan packed beach volleyball at its finest; inspiration for my personal playing style.

That was the big daddy of beach volleyball tournaments and one of the best arena vibes our sport has to offer outside the Olympics.  It is a highlight in any athlete's summer as the people line up for days to be able to sit in the stadium to watch the best beach volleyball in the world and partake in the outrageous action and drinking games. Also, the tournament is catered somewhat to athletes so we have our own Red Bull players lounge (a float on the lake), shuttle service between courts, catered food and a personal Red Bull jet boat that rips 360's at 70 miles and hour!

This is the reason I play ball, and a wonderful reminder mid February as we train indoors that our evolving sport has more and more to offer each summer.

Exciting times ahead and wonderful memories to get me through the bleak Toronto winter.

Train hard and play hard kids

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My friends at Darkside

So I have recently had a lot of comments on my photo with On the Darkside Tanning Salon located in my hometown on Vancouver Island. I would like to say thanks for the compliments as well as thank you to Tammy who has been helping me get my tan on since I ran my event back in 2008.

On the Darkside Tanning has been super helpful in getting me acclimatized to events which were held in heavy sun and they actually had a machine that fit me!! It is a great vibe there, they are super knowledgeable and provide the best tanning experience in town.

Thanks for the support over the past and to all of you who live in the area, drop by there and check out what they have to offer cause the sun's rays won't be getting you darker for another 4 months!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

National Team difficulties

A super serving practice day today followed by a video analysis session with my partner Chaim, but I have something else on my mind.

Our National team is unfortunately is divided into two groups: those who are on the team and those who are currently appealing their non-selection for the national team. This makes for an interesting situation because in the appeal process it is the coach/Volleyball Canada against the athlete in the hearing. Clearly sensitive issues are brought up and the training environment has consequently been disturbed by this unpleasant process. On top of that, there are athletes who don't quite believe in the current goals of our program and feel they should be doing other things.  I am not here to say who is right and who is wrong but it is difficult in a program to attain unity when people want to do their own thing while receiving funding and support from the federation. The bottom line is that Volleyball Canada has restructured coaching and athletes to build a program from the base up to WIN gold at the 2015 Pan American games in Toronto and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. With this long term goal in mind, it will take sacrifice and trust from all athletes to maximize this golden opportunity.

With our recently instated head coach, our program is young and all of us need to improve our foundation of skills in order to compete at the peak level of international sport. We have a solid group of athletes in Canada and should everyone buy into the current program, we will all come out highly improved competitive athletes since our coach is bringing a level of coaching none of us have ever experienced before. It may be humbling and painfully slow now, however, with dedication and hard work our program WILL build to achieve international results, thus increasing our sports financial backing and investment in developmental programs.

For the athletes who weren't selected to be a part of this long term program, you are talented and I am not knocking your abilities, suggesting you pack in it or judging you for not participating 100% in the program. I am just stating that it is a shame we have a divided training group where some athletes will be funded but won't train with the coach/team or commit fully for whatever reason.

It is the start of a new generation of beach volleyball in Canada and whoever commits to it will profit in the end. With the federation backing us (there will be money sometime in the future) and the support of coaching staff and cutting edge technology we have the chance to build a program that will compete for medals at the international level.

It is exciting and I am proud to be a firm believer in Volleyball Canada's pathway to the 2015 Pan American and 2016 Olympic Golds.

See you in the sand!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ready to start filming

So the final pieces have come into line and my film kit is ready! I haven't created any videos in a while and I am excited to get back into the swing of things through educational volley, personal training and nutrition videos. It is my goal to feature different national team athletes to demonstrate specific skills in the sand and feature them so followers can be introduced to the top players in Canada.

I have loads of home exercises I want to share with you and I look forward to introducing some challenging and empowering movements to the high performance athlete or weekend warrior. I also aspire to shed some light on my diet and what I do for nutrition during training, recovering from training, snacking for energy and major meals that have worked for me throughout my career.

On a separate note, I felt compelled to send a great friend one of my favourite quotes today and it is only fitting to post this for all to see. Unfortunately I never could locate the author so it will have to go unclaimed for now.

"You must dream no other dream. You must come to love the taste of pain, the wounding defeats that force you forward. You must learn from others but work alone, driving for the goals that only you can set. You must do it all knowing that glory may elude you - that the dream itself has to be enough."

I go crazy for "that the dream itself has to be enough" because I am all about dreams and goals. Dreams empower us, motivate us and propel us beyond our comfort zones. They force us to grow, improve and strive for excellence but at the end of the day, the glory of achieving the goal may elude you; the dream itself has to be enough!

Does your dream define you?

Live large.