These are the most common arguments for why the MD/ID approach to sports science will not work: However, the single counter argument to refute all these is this: Performance is multidisciplinary and multi-factorial by nature. Performance is the balanced integration of physical, mental, technical, tactical, cultural, genetic and other factors. Nothing exists in isolation. And therefore
Gone are the days of the “Guru” sports coaches: the “Super Coach” of the past has lost his powers to the kryptonite of modern sport – i.e. the increased complexity and sophistication of high performance sports environments.
Sure, the great names of coaching have all been “one man bands” – strong, decisive, authoritarian, personal leadership focused head coaches who controlled every aspect of the team’s performance.
However, high performance sport has developed at an incredible rate over the past twenty years and the knowledge and skills required to win a high performance sporting competition are greater than any one person can bring to the table.
Think of the advances in performance science, sports science, sports medicine, analysis, IT, nutrition, psychology and technology since the 1980s.
How can we expect that any one person can be the expert in all performance areas plus coach the team, deal with the media, work with Club Board and Executive, recruit new players, talk to sponsors, meet the fans etc etc etc?
So – the Coaching Team and High Performance Team concepts are born.
Sports Science: Observations of Philosophies in Sports Science and Sports Medicine in High Performance Sport
Sports Science has to Change
Over the past 20 years I have had the fortunate experience of working with some of the leading sporting nations in their quest for elite sporting excellence.
I write this article as a plea to all sports scientists, regardless of discipline, to evaluate what they are doing and think about being more innovative and creative in their methods and practices.
First let me say I have total, 100% complete admiration and respect for Bompa himself – a true pioneer of the sports coaching and the sports performance industry. This article is in no way a criticism of him personally but rather a proclamation that Periodization as a concept is now officially dead and buried.
Periodization – that is, the traditional sports training planning model involving long blocks (cycles or phases) of training which emphasise specific aspects of training is 20 years past the use by date and it’s time we all moved on to something more relevant and more effective for the training and preparation of athletes in this century.
The popular version of periodisation was developed in the Eastern block, 40 years ago, for senior athletes: another time, another system, another world – and totally inappropriate for today’s athletes.
Sports science has made and can continue to make a huge impact on sports performance. However, most sports scientists do not communicate their knowledge, research, ideas and information very well. As a result, many coaches will listen to and work with sports scientists who have made the effort to understand the coaching “world” and to sports science professionals who listen to, respect and engage with them as equals – as professionals trying to make a difference.
There are many good coaches in the world all striving to do their best and to help athletes realise their full potential. Some coaches – through their hard work, dedication, commitment, tenacity and creativity make the transition from good to great.
Every time a professional player or elite athlete tests positive to drugs or is caught abusing alcohol, you can guarantee three things will happen:
- Newspapers and other media will over react and claim an isolated incident is evidence of an inherent drug and alcohol abuse culture in the club or sport (or all of sport);
- The club or sport will over react and ensure a drugs and alcohol education program is put in place as soon as possible;
- Everyone associated with the incident will over react, deny responsibility and blame someone else.
What’s the reality?
The Coaching Team.
Gone are the days of the “GURU” coaches.
Sure, the great names of coaching have all been “one man bands” – strong, decisive, authoritarian, leadership focused head coaches who controlled every aspect of the team’s performance.
However, elite sport has developed at an incredible rate over the past twenty years and the knowledge and skills required to win an elite sporting competition are greater than any one person can bring to the table.
Think of the advances in sports science, sports medicine, analysis, IT, nutrition, psychology and technology since the 1980s.
How can we expect that any one person can be THE expert in all performance areas plus coach the team, deal with the media, work with Club Board and Executive, recruit new players, talk to sponsors, meet the fans etc etc etc?
So – the Coaching Team and Performance Team concepts are born.
Here’s how it goes.
Your club has had another poor season.
People looking for answers come up with a lot of ideas on how to improve next year.
The management team determine that what the Club needs is a new high performance facility: new stadium, new meeting rooms, new computer lab, new medical facilities, a new gym and of course the obligatory new recovery facility.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
This is the Facility Fallacy.
The sporting world has gone Recovery mad: ice baths, Sports drinks, Gels, high-pressure showers, massage……..it has gotten to the point where some athletes and coaches are putting Recovery before Hard Training. So what is Recovery? Why is it important? And most importantly what is the role of Recovery in enhancing the competition performance of athletes?
Message to the Sports Science community – are you kidding?
I thought the old approach to altitude training was done and dusted but to my amazement, nations continue to invest in one of the most questionable sports performance “enhancement” methodologies in the business.
You can’t be serious!
So Great Britain has an outstanding high performance sports system.
Australia had one a few years ago…and they hope to have it again.
The “Eastern Block” had some brilliant high performance sports systems – systems which influenced the development of high performance sport all over the world in the three decades since.
The Chinese have a huge one driven by State money and a very large population.
The French are doing some great things in theirs.
The US has a strong high performance system driven through the College system.
South Korea, Japan and India are growing theirs. Canada is re-building theirs.
The South Americans will be working hard to make their high performance systems the best in the world now that Rio has been announced as the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games.
South Africa is building one on the back of the Football World Cup.
Seems like every nation in the world has to have three things – a flag, a carbon policy and a high performance sports system.
Here’s the thing…..none of them do what they are supposed to do….none of them actually produce winners.