How long does it take to develop an Olympian?

Back in 1993, Anders Ericsson made his name by publishing a study in which he claimed that deliberate practice—the time spent practicing a skill designed solely for the purpose of performance enhancement—was the main differentiator between good and elite violinists. This soon became highly popularized—although Ericsson is keen to point out not by him—as the 10,000 hour rule. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – February 2020

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. This month we start off by looking at some of the key success factors behind Caribbean sprint supremacy. Then we learn advice from top researchers, a look at systems thinking, and much more. Read more

Searching for smoothness

On a recent trip back to the UK, I got to watch my one-year-old niece play with Luis, my sister’s dog. My niece was fascinated by Luis, and wanted nothing more than to play with him, as well as give him a healthy dose of stroking. Watching her trying to do this was interesting; whilst she had the motivation to do so, she lacked the ability to do it well. Luis is a hyperactive dog (my sister prefers the phrase “energetic”), and is forever bounding around; as such, whenever my niece would go to stroke him, she would invariably miss him. Even when Luis was still, my niece struggled to stroke him in what I would call a “normal” fashion; instead of a long, smooth stroke along his coat, she would instead “pat” him, in a somewhat uncoordinated manner. Read more

Consistency versus excellence

During my athletics career, I trained with two truly world-class athletes: one a gold medalist and the other a world champion. What struck me at the time was how normal they were; they turned up to training, trained fairly well, and then came back the next day to repeat the process. There were no superhuman sessions—although there were occasional exceptional performances—but just consistently decent sessions, strung together over an extended period of time. Read more

Implementing augmented reality into training

Virtual reality and augmented reality technologies are starting to transform gaming and is also making headway into medicine and other fields. You might think the sporting world is the next stop, but the technology has already arrived and more and more research is coming in to look at potential applications. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – January 2020

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. This month we start off by what exactly mental toughness is. We also summarize topics like the limited science of elite sprinting, connecting sprint speed to endurance performance, the load of warming up, periodizing skill acquisition, and more. Read more

The future of genetic testing and talent identification

When we look at the future of sport, one emerging area that gets increasing interest is genetic testing for athletes. As of late last year, just over 70 different companies offer genetic tests for sports performance, and these tests can be ordered online, without any sign-off needed by a medical practitioner. I used to work for one such company, and, through that employment, I was fortunate to consult with a number of elite sporting teams around how they might use genetic information with their athletes. A common question, from the teams and other interested individuals, was whether we could use this technology for to identify athletes with the future potential to be elite. Read more

Craig Pickering’s top reads of 2019

Last year I read or listened to 59 books. This year, I managed 50. Here’s my list of the books I enjoyed the most, and recommend you at least consider checking out yourself. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – December 2019

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. This month we start off by looking at research on the performance stages of competition, then look at performance in the heat, genetic test, as well as injury topics related to sleep and hamstrings. Read more

The surprising performance enhancing effects of bacteria

At the 2008 Olympic Games, Taiwanese weightlifter Chen Wei-Ling won the Bronze medal in the 48-kilogram category, snatching 84 kilograms, and clean and jerking 112 kilograms. Following the disqualification of the original gold and silver medalists, she was later awarded the gold medal for her performance. A decade later she is making headlines for the bacteria in her gut. Read more