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
You can’t talk about talent identification without talent development. And you can’t talk about technical development without physical development. Johnny Parkes is the senior manager of player ID and development at the US Tennis Association. In this role he’s sought to apply his philosophy: coaches need to incorporate, not separate. Integrate ID and development, and integrate technical and physical training. He joins this week’s GAINcast to discuss how one national organization is trying to reshape traditional development models and approach the local problem of player development. Read more
This past weekend both Vern and Martin presented at Scottish Athletics National Coaching Conference in Glasgow. During the seminar they took a few minutes away to share some instant impressions on the seminars they had heard so far, including topics like distance training, youth athletic development, and more. Read more
Where have all the athletes gone? At first that may seem like a very naïve statement, but lets examine it further. Look beyond the numbers. We have better performances than we have ever had, but there are more injuries and fewer athletes able to sustain high performance levels for an extended career. How have we gotten to this state? What is missing? It is athleticism. We know it when we see it! We talk about it, but do we know how to develop it? What is it? Lets begin by defining the term. Given its widespread use in the world of sports performance I was surprised that I was unable to find an acceptable definition so I came up with the following definition of athleticism. Athleticism is the ability to execute athletic movements at optimum speed with precision, style and grace. It is certainly not a very complicated definition. It is easy to see when someone has it. Read more
In a New York Times op-ed last week, author David Epstein presented a case against specialization in youth sports. He cited several studies showing that early specialization appears to have detrimental effects on athlete development. For example:
Data presented at the April meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine showed that varsity athletes at U.C.L.A. — many with full scholarships — specialized on average at age 15.4, whereas U.C.L.A. undergrads who played sports in high school, but did not make the intercollegiate level, specialized at 14.2.