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Sports Science Monthly – June 2021

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. In this month’s edition we look at research on transitioning from athlete to coach, developing psychological resilience, creating a safe learning environment, pacing, and much more.

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The psychological attributes of elite coaches

When we think about sports psychology, we typically think about how we can best prepare athletes to perform at their best in competition, and to be in a state of mental wellbeing across their careers. However, in doing so, we miss out a crucial person in the athlete development process: the coach. Coaches spend a lot of time with their athletes, and so can be a massive influence; they are also, in their own right, “performers” who can (and do) strive to be elite, just like their athletes.

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GAINcast Episode 204: Prepare for the game (with Eddie Jones)

Training is about preparing for the game. It’s a simple concept, but we often lose sight of that when we dive too deep into tactics, strength training, or other facets of training. English Rugby coach Eddie Jones tries to bring this concept to the forefront in his training. Everything they do comes back to the game. The structure of practice, the mental preparation, and fitness training all are designed with the game demands as the central focus. He joins this week’s GAINcast to walk us through is approach to preparing athletes.

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GAINcast Episode 195: Role of competition in development

Sport is about competition. Without games or races, training often has little meaning. Sports are being forced to reevaluate their structure due to the global pandemic, so it as good a time as any to rethink what we can get out of competition and how to organize it. Competition is about more than the final score and the more we set up competition to focus on that, the better. We share some thoughts and ideas on this week’s GAINcast.

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Staying fit in a pandemic: Vol. 15

In 1985 I left college and became a teacher and a coach. My decision to do that was based a combination of factors. The biggest was I loved to learn, I loved athletics and I wanted to share those passions with young people who I enjoyed being around. However, there was one part of my decision at that time that was made on a very poor assumption. Read more

Training talk with John Thrush (Part 2)

Earlier this week we posted part one of our interview with weightlifting coach John Thrush. Thrush has had a long and distinguished career coach national champions from the Pacific Northwest. In part one we looked at his own development as a coach and the two key elements of his coaching philosophy. In part two below we dive into weightlifting technique, and help athletes with the mental side of training. Read more

The words we use matter

If you’re a big athletics fan, and you have a good memory of semi-obscure sprinters, you may well have seen me race a couple of times. In bigger races, such as those at the Diamond League and major Championships, the camera pans across the competitors as they are introduced. Whilst it is the fashion these days to appear relaxed and jovial, earlier on in my career—in the immediate post-Maurice Greene era—athletes tended to be a bit more serious during this pre-race segment. If you go back and watch races from that period, you will often see athletes talking to themselves, and this is a technique I liked to utilize pre-race. Read more

April 2019 in review: mental training

Physically developing athletes is only part of the game. Champions require excellence across all pillars of sport, from the tactical to technical, from the physical to mental. Throughout the month we took a look at how athletes can improve their mental game, with a special focus on case studies of how concepts are put into practice by top coaches and athletes. We put together 3 new podcasts and 8 new articles from our team of coaches. Read more

GAINcast Episode 159: Sports psychology

Creating mentally strong athletes that can bring the right focus to training and perform under pressure is no easy task. While specialists can help in this area, every coach needs to understand that how they design training can also help develop the athlete mentally as well as physically. On this episode of the GAINcast we talk about sports psychology and how to integrate important concepts into daily training sessions. Read more

A case study in holistic exercise design with Jean-Pierre Egger

As Chris McCormick wrote about yesterday, strength coaches can contribute significantly to the development of an athlete’s mental skills. But doing so isn’t about making them work until they puke. It’s about preparation with purpose. Read more