Alphabet Drills Book

Alphabet Drills Book


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Novice Drills

Author: Nancy Gyes
Format: Paperback, Full Color
Length: 184 pages
Release Date: 2011

The jumping drills in this book are based on patterns from letters of the alphabet. Their purpose is to help you become more imaginative when setting up practice drills for yourself, or for your students, and to familiarize you with common obstacle patterns seen on agility courses. Each letter focuses on specific handling skills or dog skills, and uses a minimal amount of space and a minimal number of jumps (5 jumps is the average). The intent of using a familiar pattern for each setup, like the outline of an alphabet letter, is to aid you in remembering each pattern of jumps, so that eventually you can associate the pattern of the letter with the associated drills.

Alphabet drills are designed so that they are useful for all levels of agility handlers. If you're new to the sport, there are drills to help you and your dog learn the basics of front and rear crosses, lead-out pivots, threadles, serpentine handling, pinwheels, 270s, and more—you can truly train the full spectrum of necessary handling skills with this book. If you're an advanced competitor, you'll find more technical drills for maintaining and tuning up your skills, as well as problem solving.

Regardless of which handling method you use, Alphabet Drills will provide years of material for maintaining your agility skills and also training new skills. You'll never have to worry about what to practice again! Problems getting your dog in the correct entrance of the tunnel? Do the R drills for a week. Wide front crosses or problems with lead-out pivots? T is your drill. Does your dog spin in the wrong direction when you do a rear cross? Work on J drills.

These drills were originally published in Clean Run magazine starting in February 2005 and ending in April 2007. Some of the letters have been revamped for the book and new drills added. Photos and training tips have been incorporated into the text. In addition, Nancy has written an introductory chapter that covers topics such as what age to start training, training effectively, getting ready for training sessions, and what to do if you have problems. There are also new appendixes that contain articles on handling and training serpentines and 270s, the pattern method of course design, and a photo "dictionary" of handling maneuvers.

About the Author
Nancy Gyes has been involved in training for dog sports for the last 25 years. She was active in competition and pet obedience, tracking, and behavior counseling for pet owners before discovering agility in 1990. Since then she has been a full-time international agility instructor, competitor, and seminarian. She and her husband Jim Basic operate Power Paws Agility in San Jose, California. Nancy and Jim and their dogs have won over 70 first-place trophies at national and world championship events. Nancy has won a total of 12 USDAA and AKC championships, and was the first handler ever to win four consecutive USDAA Grand Prix World Championships: Scud in 1998, Riot in 1999, Wicked in 2000, and Riot again in 2001. Nancy has been the coach of the AKC/USA World Team since 1996, helping that team bring home numerous medals. She was a member of the AKC/USA World Team seven times (four years with Scud and three years with Riot) and has been on the USA Team for the European Open three times with Ace, winning the bronze medal in 2009.

Some people have asked about how they can more readily identify novice drills in the book. There are many letters that include a lot of elementary work. The ones that Nancy recommends trying first are starred:

E: 1 to 11
J: 4 to 14
K: 2 to 10
O: 1 to 10*
P: Most of P since it incorporates O
R: Almost all of the short drills with pulls and front crosses to the correct tunnel entrance
T: 1 to 6*
V: 2 to 15*
Z: 2 to 10*
Got 270 on page 159*

When you are ready to train serpentine, start with letter D.

When you are ready to try some box drills, start with letter A and then work up to letter B.

There are many other letters that have simple drills. Just open up to a letter and look at the first few drills, or look for any drill with just 3 to 5 obstacles. Remember, you can break any drill down by doing just a couple obstacles, then rewarding, then moving on to the second and third parts of the exercise.

"Nancy’s alphabet drills are an incredible training tool. I regularly use the drills with my own dogs and frequently send students home with “alphabet” homework. The index lists each drill by the skills addressed—an awesome way to break it down! I am so excited to replace my homemade binder with photocopies of each alphabet drill, with a real book." —Stephanie Spyr, Jump Start Dog Sports

"I use the alphabet drills consistently in training my own dogs and also in teaching weekly agility classes. What a fantastic resource—when I need to sharpen rear crosses, I pull out the J drill; when I have a newbie class ready for their first handling exercises, I pull out the A drill. I pretty much know many drills by heart. Thanks Nancy and Clean Run for putting this all
together for us in one neat book." —Mary Van Wormer, Nunes Agility Field

"Alphabet drills are wonderful for both the serious agility trainer and the casual agility enthusiast. Creative in concept and comprehensive in scope, they promote good training habits and the development of excellent skills. Linger on L to learn more about lines, circle your way through the O-P-Q cycle, or simply open the book to pick a letter—you will find challenging and fun drills for you and your dog." —Katie Tolve, competitor

"Nancy’s alphabet drills are fun and easy to set up. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned competitor, you can practice all of your agility skills with these drills." —Lisa Michelon, Dog Star Agility

"I have spent several hours going through various parts of Nancy Gyes' new book and have to say—it's FANTASTIC! The drills are beautifully laid out, progressing from simple to more complex; there is a great table at the end that indicates which drills are best for working on certain configurations/skills; and the appendices on handling techniques (e.g. crosses) are excellent. I can't wait (when the temps get back into the 80s) to begin working these drills! I love this book as much as I have enjoyed Developing Handling Skills by Linda Mecklenburg—the two together provide a wonderful basis for agility training! Thank you Linda and Nancy, and a million thanks to Clean Run for making these possible!" —Dina