Entries by Craig Pickering

Adding an element of theater to coaching

When we go to the doctor, we’re usually either sick or worried that something might be wrong with us. We make the trip in the hopes that we’ll be reassured or cured. What we don’t realize is tha the trip itself might play the most important role in getting better. Recent research has shown us that it is often the very act of interacting with a medical professional, or the thought that our concerns have been taken seriously, is enough to make us feel better.

Let the athletes choose

It’s easy to fall into the trap as a coach of focusing primarily on physiology and biomechanics when carrying out your sessions, as these aspects are often easy to quantify, as well as giving us an illusion of prediction, increasing our confidence in the outcome. But, as is always the case, things are rarely that simple. New research continues to show how athlete choice can help a program’s effectiveness.

Gene doping might not work after all

Last year, I wrote about gene doping, and the potential implications it might have within sport. Whilst we tend to think that our genetics are hugely important when it comes to determining our athletic talent (and we’re probably right), the common narrative is that this was static and unchangeable. However, the premise of gene doping is that we might be able to alter the hand we were dealt and change our DNA.As research progresses, we’re starting to get an idea of whether tha might actually be true.

The search for the best lane

All athletes in the long sprints have experienced the anguish of waiting for the lane draw for their race, in the hopes that they get a favorable lane. Common wisdom holds that the middle lanes – three to six – are generally more favorable, with the outer lanes avoided and inner lanes feared. The reasons often cited are that the inner lanes tend to be tighter, making it harder for sprinters to reach their top speed.

The importance of sprinting in injury rehabilitation

Start talking about sprinting and it won’t be long until you the discussion turns to hamstring injuries. Hamstring injuries are a major concern of any athlete that has to sprint. Soccer has a notorious hamstring problem, but they are not alone. Hamstring injuries are also the most prevalent form of non-contact injury within sports like athletics, American Football, rugby union, Australian Rules Football, cricket, and basketball.

Don’t confuse outcomes with performance

I’m not an avid watcher of American Football, but through a strange set of circumstances I found myself watching the 2015 Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots in a sports bar in Toronto. If you follow the NFL, you likely know the story, but if not, with 26 seconds remaining on the clock, Seattle was on New England’s one yard line, a score away from victory. On the pitch, they had one of the best runners in the league in Marshawn Lynch, with many fans hoping, and indeed expecting, to see a running play which would result in a touchdown. Instead, a passing play was called by Pete Carroll, Seattle’s coach, which in the end was intercepted by Malcolm Butler, ending Seattle’s dream of consecutive championships.

Hammers, nails, and opening up your world view

The law of the instrument is a cognitive bias that occurs through the over-reliance on a familiar tool. It’s commonly summed up through a quote by Abraham Maslow, where he stated, “it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”. We can follow from this cognitive bias that how we view the world may alter our perceptions of what is actually occurring, which, in the case of improving performance, might lead to sub-optimal results.