GAIN 2018 wrap-up: recollections & reflections

GAIN 2018 has been finished for just a little over a week and I already can’t wait for next year – only 343 days to go for GAIN 2019! For my wife and I GAIN is a lot of work, but each year it is gratifying to see the work come to fruition. For all involved it is a special time of learning and sharing with other with professionals across many disciplines and sports with varied perspectives from around the world.

Eleven years ago, when we started GAIN there were 16 attendees including the faculty, this year there were 89. The goal never was to get big, as this wasn’t intended to be another summit or a large clinic. It is only open by application. Those who are selected to attend have skin in the game and are willing to share their success and failures and subsequent lessons learned.

This year’s theme was: Connecting the Dots – Back to Basics. It was so cool to see lights go on in people’s heads when they saw connections that they never thought existed and how they could apply those connections to make the people they work with better. Then there was the basics. We had people who have worked with the best teams and athletes and athletes in the world and all underscored how they never deviated from the basics, how the basics were reinforced up to the day of an Olympic final. It is impossible to write the great American novel if you don’t know the alphabet.

Each day started early with a field session on the Rice University track. This is an “Active Learning” session designed to allow the attendees to feel the movements, with the emphasis was on the basics of movement. These are high level teaching sessions designed to be tied to subsequent presentations and concepts presented in the classroom.

After breakfast there were two classroom sessions followed by a break for lunch. After lunch there were three workshops that the attendee rotated through. Those were followed by three shorter classroom sessions and a short free discussion period broken into interest groups. Then dinner followed by an evening session. The first night this was designed to get everyone taking and to meet each other. The second night was a Gold Medal panel consisting of GAINers who had worked Gold medalists in Rio and Korea. The recording of that panel will be on the GAINcast soon. I mention the meals because that is where GAIN really happens, It is not the presentations, workshops or active learning sessions, those only serve to facilitate discussions at meals and sitting at Valhalla pub on campus. Now the learning and sharing continues on the GAIN forum. I think faculty member Landon Evans from University of Iowa summed it up quite well: “GAIN is the antidote for the lack-luster workshop/clinic environment these days.”

I remiss to not thank Rice University men’s Track & Field for being our campus host, especially assistant coach Brek Christensen. Special thanks to my wife Melissa who does all the hard work in preparation and to Tove Shere and Pauline Giles who were so helpful to Melissa. Special shout out to Tommy McHugh and his dad who do all the filming and maintain the website.

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