This is an excerpt from my book Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning that I thought was particularly timely.
About Vern Gambetta
Entries by Vern Gambetta
Work capacity is the ability to tolerate a workload and recover from that workload. In order for an athlete to improve they must be able to do a certain threshold amount of work. They must be able to work at a level that will ensure enough stress to achieve an optimum adaptive response. If they cannot do the work, they will not improve. Therefore, the goal with this type of individual would be to build a work capacity base that fits the specific demands of the athlete’s sport.
In the course of my fifty years of coaching I have been fortunate to have had great mentors, influences and role models. I learned very early that I was not entitled to anything I had to pay my dues and earn the right to move forward. I constantly had to prove my competence and continue to improve.
The athlete’s growth process is by no means linear or clearly defined. In my experience there are three steps of indeterminate length:
I am possibly going through an old age identity crisis, but I have been thinking a lot lately about how people define themselves or let other define them. It got me thinking about how I define myself, so at the risk of coming across as vain and self-centered I thought I would share how I define myself. This is partially as a result of spending too many years letting others define me. I have learned to have a chance to make an impact and lead a purposeful life you must define yourself and stay true to that definition. Here it goes.
For the past fifteen years I have been focused on what to do to get better at getting better. I have explored cognitive neuroscience, recognizing that the brain and how we train the brain is the key to getting better at getting better. In that pursuit I have read numerous books, devoured research literature, attended seminars and talked to as many experts as possible. The deeper I got into the process I knew I was on the right path. This is why I am encouraging you to read The Playmaker’s Advantage: How to Raise Your Mental Game to the Next Level. Len Zaichkowsky AKA Dr. Z and Dan Peterson have done a masterful job of compiling the research and their extensive experience into a comprehensive informative guide to the latest information on training the brain to improve sports performance.
Do you want your athletes fit for the test or fit to play for the game? There is a real and distinct difference on one hand and some real lessons to be learned on the other. It all depends how the “fitness” tests are used and how they are framed in the overall context of the annual and career plan.
Let’s stop putting inordinate amount of time in clearing a smooth and direct path for the athlete. All it does is set up unrealistic expectations. No journey toward athletic excellence is straight and narrow toward the destination without any bumps in the road, detours or breakdowns. Instead let’s shift the emphasis back to where it should be: preparing a robust adaptable athlete to negotiate any path put in front of them. To quote my colleague Bill Knowles what we have today is a “Medicalization of sport (sports medicine/sports rehabilitation): the process by which sports specific conditions and problems come to be defined and treated as medical conditions, and thus become the subject of medical study, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment.”
Since I last reported on my reading in April I have read fifty-one books. The topics represent a range of interests beyond sport. I find myself reading more history going back to my roots as a social science major. Here are some that stood out for me:
Recently the Junior World Track & Field Championships were televised. I watched with great interest. It was interesting to see the wider variation in body types than what you see at the senior level. I couldn’t help but think as I was watching how many of these athletes would go on and be a factor at the senior level. By being a factor, I look at it several ways: