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Book Club: Ray Dalio’s Principles

What are the rules that consistently govern your actions? What do you turn to when faced with challenging circumstances or unique opportunities? How do you know if what you’re doing aligns with what you believe or with who you are? Though it seems elementary to one’s ability to function at a high level, so few people have actually taken the time to write out who they are and what they believe in. Read more

3 case studies on high performance

In the last year I have met with many organizations that are inquiring about what exactly a high performance program is. High performance models are not new to the world, but they are new to the professional sports scene in North American. The success of the Australian Olympic team through the 2000 Olympic Games was followed by the success of the British Olympic Team at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. This has led to a wave of interest in North American teams to create a better performance environment and find ways to give their organization an edge. Read more

GAINcast Episode 142: Book club

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes there are things words can express uniquely. A good book can teach you in a way that other methods simply can’t. On this episode of the GAINcast we look at a few of the books that truly helped shape us as coaches. In addition, we discuss which individuals we’d like to sit down and have a beer with. Read more

Training doesn’t have to be crazy

More it more it seems like we are surrounded by craziness, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I recently read It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the two founders of the project management software company Basecamp. The main point of the book is, as the title suggests, work doesn’t have to be, and indeed shouldn’t be, crazy. Read more

GAINcast Episode 130: The playmaker’s advantage (with Len Zaichkowsky and Daniel Peterson)

The definition of a playmaker is a bit elusive: it combines having the right mindset, anticipation, perception, and decision-making skills. In their new book The Playmaker’s Advantage: How to Raise Your Mental Game to the Next Level, Len Zaichkowsky and Daniel Peterson take a look at what the science says and how coaches can help their athletes improve in this area. On this episode of the podcast, the authors join us for a chat on what they learned writing the book, and how it can be applied in practice. Read more

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. Read more

Current reading list

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: Read more

Free Preview: Vern Gambetta’s Foreword from Training Talk

The following post is taken from the Foreword I contributed to Martin Bingisser’s new book Training Talk: Conversations with a Dozen Master Coaches.

Foreword

Back in 1987, I took a leap of faith. After 20 years of experience as a track and field coach, I moved to a new town for a new job in a new sport as director of conditioning for the Chicago White Sox. I was confident I could handle the challenge, but in the back of my mind there was still some doubt. I had never worked in baseball before, and the profession I had entered, athletic development, hadn’t even existed a few years prior.

After arriving, the doubt quickly faded as I took a look at baseball through the eyes of a track coach. Why didn’t my javelin throwers have the shoulder problems that pitchers did? It was simple: I started looking at the pitchers as javelin throwers in long pants. I took what I knew about preparing the whole kinetic chain to throw the javelin far and adapted that to the demands of pitching. To the surprise of many, we stopped having shoulder problems, and the pitchers became more durable. This was a lesson I was then able to apply many times over in other sports. Don’t look at the sport as a unique activity, instead look at the movements, and connect that to what is being done in other sports. This is a lesson you will learn from the coaches in this book. If they have one commonality, it is the ability to see movement with different eyes and make adjustments accordingly.

» Buy now: you pick up a copy of Training Talk in the HMMR Store.

No matter the sport, a good coaching philosophy must stay true to the same fundamental truths of coaching. In this book, Martin has sought to discover these truths through interviews with some of the best minds in coaching today. This book is a reflection of Martin’s intellectual curiosity and passion to learn. His probing questions allow you, the reader, to get to the essence of the concepts and training methods.

I am honored and humbled to write this Foreword and to be included as one of the coaches interviewed for this collection. These coaches are an eclectic mix of experts from athletics and field sports, but the one thing they have in common is that they are the best of the best. Together, the interviews provide a comprehensive overview of the process of developing the athlete from many points of view. Most importantly, as I did 30 years ago, each of these coaches has gone outside their specialty and, in many instances outside their sport, to learn and challenge themselves to improve. This sends a powerful message about what it takes to be on the cutting edge.

By selecting coaches that transcend sports and disciplines, Martin underscores the unity of training ideas and concepts. The need to communicate across sports to share knowledge and learn. This collection of interviews features coaches who are thought leaders that have produced results at the highest levels of sport using this approach. None of them is narrow in their areas of interest or specialization. They all go where they need to go to find answers. They all use lateral thinking to connect dots in seemingly unrelated manners. They did this, not by being followers, but by questioning and building connections outside their fields of expertise.

All of these coaches share:

  • deep knowledge;
  • passion that fuels their drive to learn;
  • coaching the athlete, not the sport or event;
  • achievement at the highest levels;
  • continued learning; and
  • strength in getting better at getting better.

Reflect on the ideas expressed here and each of these approaches. Think critically about the responses. Do not take any of the answers as gospel. Use the collective wisdom of these coaches to learn and grow. It may change your ideas, or it may confirm them. Regardless, the benefit will be improved coaching. Keep learning!

Defining your coaching philosophy

I’ve been blogging for more than a decade, and doing interviews for seven years now. Over that time I’ve had the opportunity to conduct more than 160 interviews with top coaches around the world on this site, the HMMR Podcast, and the GAINcast. The interviews have covered the whole range of coaching, from coaches of gold medalists and world record holders, to the best minds in youth training and physical education. Read more

What have you changed your mind about?

Every year, Edge.org asks a question to a number of eminent thinkers in science, and in 2008 the question was “What have you changed your mind about.” The answers were compiled into a book, and many of the contributors to describe changes – some small, some major – in their thinking about either their field or the world at large. Read more