Better training: how Bianca takes the Quebec Judo Team to the next level



As assistant provincial coach for the Quebec Judo Team, Bianca Ockedahl is responsible for the development of over twenty promising athletes. To develop the athletes, she relies on her long experience as a top-level judoka and evidence-based coaching to take their performance to the next level.


Letting go of dreams is hard. When Bianca Ockedahl didn’t qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, she had some tough decisions to make. The then 29-year-old judoka had been competing at a top level for over 10 years, with 2nd at the APIA World Cup in 2010 and 3rd at the San Salvador World Cup 2010 as stand out performances, as well as being a 4-time Canadian Champion.


– Deep down I had to be honest with myself. I was 29 and at the point of committing myself to another grueling 4 years to reach the next Olympics, or to quit and focus on other things in life. I had already poured my heart and soul into training and felt that I gave it all I had. So, I decided to end my active career. It was a hard decision, but I don’t regret it, I couldn’t have done more than I’ve already did.

"As a coach today, I emphasize the technical development for my athletes."

When Bianca was at the top of her game, times were different. Video analysis was available, but clumsy camcorders and underdeveloped technology made analysis and evaluation complicated. In her new role as assistant coach, she’s grateful for the possibilities that the digital technology brings.


– My style was less technical and more focused on strength and power. Had I been competing now, I would probably have been a different athlete. As a coach today, I emphasize the technical development for my athletes. With the tools we use today, it’s a lot easier to analyze details to find the keys for improvement for every athlete, so-called evidence-based coaching.


The importance of good communication

As a provincial team, the Quebec Judo Team is the steppingstone from club level to national level for promising athletes. As a provincial coach, she needs to have a lot of contact with both club coaches around the province and national team coaches around the country.


– Even after they’ve outgrown us and made it to the national team, we still have a relationship with them, advising and assisting the national level coaches. This means that communication is key. With Athlete Analyzer coaches on all levels, including psychical prep coaches, can collaborate and communicate on a whole different level than before. We can now see the same videos, draw our conclusions and coordinate our feedback and adapt the training accordingly, no matter where the athlete currently trains.

"With Athlete Analyzer coaches on all levels can collaborate and communicate on a whole different level than before."

But Bianca was off to a rough start in her new role. When she began her new position in late 2019, covid was just around the corner. After a few months, everything locked down and training became a lot more challenging. Before covid, the team used to train at the National Training Centre with the Canadian national team. But during the past 2 years, they’ve been training in bubbles of 25 on the tatami, keeping groups and athletes separate.


– The pandemic accelerated the use of technical tools in my coaching. With Athlete Analyzer, we have a great platform for training and development, making it possible to conduct some of the training online. It was invaluable in keeping in touch and managing my athletes who were separated into different training groups


The first big competition in 2 years

During the pandemic, both style and weight classes of the athletes have shifted. This affects the athletes match tactics, and without recent competitions to test their skill, the video analysis tool called practice videos have been a great help.


– A lot have happened in 2 years, not just in a negative way. Injuries have healed and technical skills have been developed. With practice videos, we can focus on the present, not the past, and get the athletes up to date with their new base level.

"Right now, we’re working on the final preparations, using Athlete Analyzer and practice videos to sharpen our technique and tactics."

With the pandemic winding down in Canada, competitions are finally opening up. The big goal for Bianca and her athletes is the Quebec Open, the first big competition in Canada in 2 years.


– We see the light at the end of the tunnel and training has got a bigger purpose. Our goal is to get enough ranking points to reach the Elite Nationals, open only to the 8 best athletes in every age and weight class. And this time it’s extra special. With no competitions for over 2 years, everyone is on the same page, with next to zero ranking points, and the opportunities are big. It is very motivating for my athletes. Right now, we’re working on the final preparations, using Athlete Analyzer and practice videos to sharpen our technique and tactics.