Posts

The role of adversity in development

We find ourselves in very strange times, with the COVID-19 causing shut down of all but essential services. As a result local and international competitions have been cancelled or postponed, including the Olympics, Paralympics, and World Under-20 Championships. Even finding a place to train is nearly impossible. Read more

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

Think external, not internal

George M. Perry is a running and sports performance coach with emphases on movement training and post-injury return-to-play. Edited with minor contributions from Martin Bingisser.

Most coaches’ instruction approaches drills biomechanically: body positions, joint angles, activation patterns underlying movement sequences. These referents require an internal focus of attention. Athletes are directed and trained to think about how they are moving their body. What if we have been going about it all wrong? What if athletes instead focus on the intended effect on an implement, the environment, or something else external to the athlete’s body? Read more

Champion’s choice: resilience

Resilience is the quality both physical and psychological that enables you to bounce back from adversity or setbacks. Some people equate resilience with mental toughness, personally I reject the whole concept of mental toughness. Resilience is so much more. It is nerves of steel, not letting setbacks get in the way of progress. The resilient athlete looks at adversity as opportunity. A chance to test themselves in a new way, to strengthen their resolve in pursuit of their goals. Read more

What makes champions?

My interest in what it takes to be a champion started early. As a youngster I was always questioning why? Why was that player better? Why did that team win all the time? As I got older and played football in college there were clear differences that became apparent. At first, I thought it was just talent. If you have talent you were successful, it was that straight forward  or was it? If that was the case, then why was one of the most physically talented guys on the team sitting next to me on the bench? Then why did teams that appeared to have less talent consistently win? Read more

Optimism in coaching: helpful or harmful?

Are you a better than average driver? In an interesting study from the early 80s, researchers asked a small group of American and Swedish study participants this very question. Their answers were illuminating; 93% of Americans believed they were better than average drivers, as did 69% of Swedes. Logically, this makes no sense; only 50% of people can be better than average drivers, and yet, these study results suggest that many people are unable to accurately understand their true driving ability relative to others. Read more

Quantifying the placebo effect in sports performance

Last month, I wrote about how the coach may act as a placebo, potentially exerting performance enhancing effects through a variety of means. The research discussed in that article was just s small part of recent efforts to better understand the influence of placebo effects on sporting performance. An upcoming special issue of European Journal of Sports Science aims to dig even more into the area, including another paper on the potential to further enhance our understanding of how placebo can affect performance. Read more

The coach as a placebo

One area of sports performance that I constantly find myself fascinated with is that of placebo effects, and its related cousin, expectancy. I find it really interesting that an inert substance can exert clear performance enhancing effects, as this has potentially huge implications for sporting performance. 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