Over the last decade the field of sports science has grown exponentially. At the same time it has started to lose its way. Rather than telling players what they can do, it often tells players what they can’t. Rather than focusing on adaptations, it focuses on measuring loads. And rather than being coach-driven, training has become driven more by the backroom staff. On this episode of the GAINcast, Tony Studwick shares his experience as a sports scientist. In more than a decade with Manchester United he saw first hand how the field has evolved and what the best teams do differently in this area.
Notes and quotes
Strudwick has spent his entire career focusing on soccer. He has a PhD in sports science, which he earned from Liverpool John Moores University. He previously worked in various roles for the Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City, West Ham United and The Football Association. From 2007 to 2018 he worked for Machester United. This summer he began a new role as head of performance for the Welsh national team.
- 3:30 – Strudwick’s background as a student and learning about frugal innovation: “Frugal innovation: how do you make the most of what you have. “
- 10:30 – Moving into the Premier League: “It took ten years to get to Manchester United, and another 10 years to refine the process. Too many coaches are keen to up to the next level too quickly. There are no shortcuts.”
- 11:30 – Evolving the role at Machester United: “We wanted to develop a performance support network to prolong careers, maximize athlete services to keep players playing longer and keep the culture of hard working players at the club for a longer period of time. “
- 14:00 – Learning from Sir Alex Ferguson: “Leadership is about setting an example and making sure everyone follows that example. Sir Alex rarely had to intervene with players since they drove the standards for him. “
Improving sports science
- 17:00 – The growth of sports science at Manchester United and the benefits of a lean staff: “Sir Alex liked a lean staff. There are benefits to that. Exponential growth just brings issues regading communication, silo building, and so on. “
- 22:15 – How sports science has lost its way: “I am a scientist and believe in apply sports science principles, but there is a propensity to overestimate what we can measure. Are we measuring what we can or what we should? We keeping focusing on the load instead of the physiological response. “
- 28:30 – How sports science fits in to decision making: “In some current models, sports science is driving the coaching process and telling athletes what they can’t do. Coaches should be driving the coaches process and telling them what they can do. “
- 31:30 – The art of coaching: “Some of the most successful coaches might be low tech, but they are high touch. They connect with the players. “
- 34:15 – Finding and exceeding the limits of performance: “Are sports scientists putting limitations on athletes? We should be looking at the athletes to redefine what is capable. “
- 37:30 – Analyzing the Premier League’s The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).
- 42:30 – Best practices on player development from Manchester United and other academies.
- 44:30 – Dos and don’ts to make the performance team work better.
- 46:45 – Where sports science and performance is heading.
To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
- Check out our latest book Training Talk: Conversations with a Dozen Master Coaches for more in-depth insights on training from some of the world’s top coaches.
- Don’t forget to join HMMR Plus to get full access to our video, article, and podcast archive here on HMMR Media.
- You can learn more from Tony and reach out to him on Twitter at @StrudwickTony.
- We reference Studwick’s recent comments on sports science, which can be read here. We also discussed in detail Strudwick’s comments on the state of sports science on GAINcast 128.
- On GAINcast 27 we looked at how sports science can best fit into the performance team. That also a topic we looked at with Peter Vint, formerly of Everton, on GAINcast 80. We also looked at Premier League soccer in GAINcast 96 with Des Ryan from Arsenal.
- Another podcast referenced in this episode was Episode 158 of the HMMR Podcast with Matt Price from the LA Kings.