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
The following post is taken from the Foreword I contributed to Martin Bingisser’s new book Training Talk: Conversations with a Dozen Master Coaches.
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.
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!
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
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
This past weekend my good friend and professional colleague, Jimmy Radcliffe, came to Sarasota for his annual day and a half visit after the NCAA regional track meet. We spend the time each year reflecting, analyzing what we did the previous year and planning. Jim was kind enough to have me assist with the Women’s Olympic gold medal ice hockey team so that was one topic of conversation. Neither of us had ever worked with ice hockey before, but we came to the conclusion that it really did not matter because it was all about reinforcing basics and improving movement efficiency. Read more
In his new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, Alex Hutchinson tries to synthesize to wave of recent research on how the mind and body control human performance. In the end, he writes, the competing theories all come down to effort. Effort is what matters. On this week’s episode we discuss his book, how effort can be trained, and great examples of some of these theories in practice. Read more
Lately I have many discussions with friends and colleagues about achieving working and life balance. The discussions reminded of a book one of my athletes gave me almost forty years ago: The Giving Tree. I suggest all you coaches and athletes read it and meditate on it. How much can you give? Read more
In July of 1986 I flew into Tucson to visit Anne E. “Betty” Atwater, a professor of Biomechanics at University of Arizona, in order to pick her brain about throwing. This was an area where she had done some landmark research on pitching mechanics in the late 1970s. I previously had the opportunity to work with Betty on the biomechanical analysis of sprinters and hurdlers in preparation for the 1984 Olympic games. In our conversation, she recommended a book that changed my paradigm in regard to strength training and the use of isometric and eccentric work. Read more
I just bought a book (quite expensive I might add) by one of the current keyboard guru’s because I am always trying to learn and increase my knowledge base and it was highly recommended by a young coach. It was full of marketing, buzzwords, pseudoscience and general mumbo jumbo. In addition, I suspect good portions of it were copied without any attribution or reference to the sources. Read more