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!