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.
I was recently asked to talk to a group of students about high performance sport. We discussed all the “usual” topics: talent identification, sports science, elite coach development and sports medicine.
One of the students asked me, “Is there a difference between Medicine (as in general practice medicine) and Sports Medicine as it exists in high performance sport”?
Greatness is something that all high performance coaches crave. They pursue it with passion and strive to be considered one of the coaches who achieved success at the highest level of their sport. But what is greatness? Where can you find it? What does it look like? And can you measure it? This article discusses greatness in coaching and presents ten fundamental characteristics of greatness to help every coach realise their potential and fulfil their destiny.
Remember how when we were kids everyone liked to eat cupcakes.
Then when we got older and a bit more health conscious we were told to give them up because of the sugar and flour and other stuff in them.
Then along comes a sports nutritionist who said “Muffins are a great food for athletes – nutritious, high carbohydrate energy foods”. So we all started eating them again even though they are basically still just big cupcakes.
What a big con.
Almost as big a con as Training Studies in Sports Science Research.
We all agree that developing mental skills is an essential part of being a successful athlete.
The ability to perform under pressure, the capacity to remain confident and resilient when competition conditions get tough, the skill to be able to relax and stay focused when feeling pain and fatigue in competition, concentration, visualization……coaches and athletes are unanimous that spending time developing mental skills is time well spent.
However, figuring out the best way to develop mental skills – particularly mental skills which can directly enhance the competition performance of athletes is another matter.
We all think working with a Sports Psychologist is a good idea but Sports Psychologists are like life partners……we know that having one is probably a good idea but it is next to impossible to find a good one.