Entries by Vern Gambetta

Who am I?

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.

Read this book! The Playmakers Advantage

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.

Fit for the test or fit to play?

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.

Clearing the path or preparing the athlete for the path

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.”

Junior World Championships

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:

Where are you looking?

A drunken man was intently searching the ground near a lamp post. My friend asked what he was looking for. The drunk replied that he was looking for his car keys, so my friend helped him look without success. Then he asked whether the man was certain that he dropped the keys near the lamppost. “No,” replied, “I lost the keys somewhere across the street.” My friend asked him “So why are you looking here?” The drunk quickly answered, “The light is much better here.”

The State of GAIN: connecting the dots

It has been one month since GAIN 2018 finished. Eleven years ago, when we started GAIN there were 16 attendees including the faculty, this year there were 89. While the best chance to learn from everyone is to be at GAIN in person, we also are sharing some resources for those that could not make it. Last month I put together some reflections on GAIN 2018. This month on the GAINcast we share one evening’s gold medal roundtable with six members sharing experiences supporting Olympic champions. Below you can watch the first keynote from GAIN where I introduced this year’s theme: connecting the dots.

Perils of reductionist thinking

Focusing on muscles and isolated movements is mentally convenient. It is very easy to break the body and movements into parts and separate systems and focus on thus parts to the exclusion of the whole. It may be convenient and easy but is not right, it ultimately leads to confusion.