GAINcast Episode 232: Science at the track (with Esa Peltola)

The best sports scientists bridge the gap between theory and practice. They bring coaching experience to the table and help help solve the real problems athletes are facing. This describes Esa Peltola. His diverse experiences in coaching, physiology, talent identification, and sports science helped him drive athletes to the next level, including coaching the first Australian to break 10 seconds in the 100 meters. On this week’s GAINcast he shares his journey.

Listen Now

Notes and quotes

Esa Peltola is a retired coach and sports scientist. Having started his career as a national sprint coach in Finland, he worked in variety of roles in Australia and Qatar throughout the rest of his career. In addition to his coach Patrick Johnson, he played a key role at the Australian Institute of Sport, helped start up the Aspire Academy, and launch innovative talent identification programs.

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 5:00 – Growing up and coaching in rural Finland.
  • 14:45 – Exploring talent identification and development in Qatar and Australia: “You can find talent, but if you don’t have the talent development systems it doesn’t matter.”
  • 19:45 – Applied work at AIS.
  • 26:00 – Establishing the Aspire Academy.
  • 29:45 – Sprint and hurdle transfer studies in Finland and Australia.
  • 36:00 – Case studies in drills: “You can have a negative effect from a drill. Doing it thousands of time will only do more harm.”
  • 39:45 – The Patrick Johnson story.
  • 50:30 – Talent identification and combining observation with testing: “With tests you can narrow down the pool of potential talents, but then you need to observe their movements in different tasks. You cannot measure everything. For example, some high jumpers have a great countermovement jump, but some do not.”
  • 1:04:15 – Trends in coaching: “Distraction is a big trend in training. Training journals can help keep focus. Without one it is hard to look back and see why you were successful or not.”
  • 1:07:45 – Advice for young coaches: “Young coaches need to go around and have some discussions with experienced coaches. The hunger for knowledge can speed up your development. Be curious and seek knowledge.” “Coaching is not about tricks, it is about being consistent with the right things.”

To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.

Further reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic: