sports science

Ego is the Enemy of Discovery and Progress

Ego is the Enemy of Discovery and Progress

It is a common viewpoint that ego stunts personal growth, and most would agree that ego undermines our effectiveness as coaches and practitioners. What is less often considered is that unconstrained ego similarly obstructs progress and discovery in the areas of scientific study that exist to inform practice. At present the respective disciplines encompassed within coaching science, sports science and sports medicine are plagued with these difficulties. Einstein famously quoted to the effect that ego has an inverse relationship to knowledge – “more the knowledge, lesser the ego; lesser the knowledge, more the ego”. Yet researchers in the fields of sports science and sports medicine are showing themselves to be particularly prone to ego and the excesses associated with it. In this post we tackle the issue of ego in sports science and sport medicine, and attempt to plot a path back to sanity.

The Olympic Pursuit of Inspiration

The Olympic Pursuit of Inspiration

For the most part, when those in the media talk of 'inspiration' or 'being inspired' they are referring to those watching sport being inspired to strive to achieve the feats that they have seen or attempt to emulate sporting heroes. In this way, great athletes are often described as 'an inspiration to others'. Essentially, this is inspiration borne of admiration - essentially the 'I want to be like them when I grow up' scenario. 

The alternative meaning of inspiration - and the definition that this post will mostly focus on - is inspiration in the sense of stimulating thought or inspiring new ideas.

Specificity and the Simulation Trap

Specificity and the Simulation Trap

This week I was asked about sport-specific programming by a young coach. Specificity is much misunderstood or at best incompletely understood in relation to training prescription and programming. Our task is to prepare the athlete for the rigours of training and competing. Nonetheless, rather than training the sport into the individual, we train the individual in the sport. In this sense the sport (or sports) provides the context, but the focus remains tailoring physical preparation and athletic development to the individual. This is a subtle but important distinction as we will explore in this post.

The Simplicity and Complexity Paradox in Training and Coaching

The Simplicity and Complexity Paradox in Training and Coaching

In a presentation last year I used the concept of yin and yang to describe the inter-relationship between physical and technical in track and field athletics. In essence, yin and yang describes how opposing elements (light and dark, fire and water) paradoxically serve to complement and ultimately define each other. Much the same applies when considering simplicity versus complexity. There are many instances where each of these elements apply in the realms of coaching and various facets of practice in elite sport. In this post we will explore the paradoxical - or yin and yang - relationship between simplicity versus complexity in the fields of coaching, physical preparation and sports injury.

Accountability - The Holy Grail for 'High Performance' Systems

High performance has become a buzz word that appears constantly in relation to sporting bodies and organisations associated with sports worldwide. The reason for the inverted commas 'High Performance' in the title is that this term has become so over-used and misused that it has arguably been rendered meaningless. Using the label does not make it so. In this post we discuss the elements that must be present in order for an environment and the practitioners who work in it to merit the title 'high performance'.

Lessons Along the Way - Advice for Young Practitioners

Lessons Along the Way - Advice for Young Practitioners

Providing learning opportunities and mentoring to coaches and practitioners has been a recurring theme throughout my career. Indeed a large part of my present role involves mentoring young coaches and practitioners in the early stages of their career working with athletes. These interactions frequently prompt me to reflect on my own journey and what I have learned on the way. This post is a collection of those critical lessons - essentially what would have been useful to have been told starting out.

'You Must Have Good Tyres' - Why and How to Train the Foot

'You Must Have Good Tyres' - Why and How to Train the Foot

Aside from serving as the point of weight-bearing for all activities performed in standing, the foot represents the terminal link in the kinetic chain where forces generated by the athlete are transmitted to the ground beneath them. The action of the foot is integral to all modes of gait, from walking to sprinting. During sprinting, for example, the athlete's technical proficiency in how they apply force during each foot contact is recognised as paramount. Despite the integral role of the foot in locomotion and a host of athletic activities common to the majority of sports, training to develop this critical link is often overlooked in the physical preparation undertaken by athletes. This post examines the role of the different muscle groups involved in the dynamic function of the foot. We will explore different training modalities to develop the respective muscle groups, and also discuss the applications of this form of training, from both sports injury and performance perspectives.

Yin and Yang of Physical and Technical

Yin and Yang of Physical and Technical

During my recent trip to AltisWorld I was invited to present to the coaches and practitioners attending the 5-day coaching clinic known as the Apprentice Coach Programme. My chosen topic was the interaction and relationship between the physical preparation undertaken with athletes (in this case track and field) and their technical development. The message I sought to convey was that the elements of physical and technical are so inter-related and dependent upon each other as to be inseparable; this brought to mind the notion of Yin and Yang.

The importance of being informed...

Whatever the nature of the sport, the coaching structure and system of athlete support, a full 360 degrees of mutual understanding should ultimately be the goal for all parties involved (athlete, coach, practitioner).