Showing posts from March, 2014

Critically Acclaimed Sporting Teams

(Updated) I was recently listening to a podcast ( BS Report with Steve Nash ), and the idea of a 'critically acclaimed' sporting team was mentioned. The idea comes from television and movie criticism. There are many examples of critically acclaimed shows and movies which, ultimately, didn't win awards or have anyone see them. On the podcast it was specifically related to Steve Nash's great Phoenix Suns teams, who everyone loved to watch, and remembers fondly, but never actually won the championship. So - I canvassed some friends for other examples of teams who are/were critically acclaimed. The main principals were that: everyone remembers the team the team didn't win but no one really remembers that Here is the list we came up with, in no particular order: 1974 Netherlands football team 2004-2006 Phoenix Suns (of course) 1982 Brasil football team 1996 Italy volleyball team 1986 France football team 1992/93 Michigan bask

How Many 1%ers Make 100%?

I heard a coach talking about an athlete the other day. They said, 'he is one of those athletes who think that 100 1%ers actually add up to 100%'. For the record, we aren't talking about these 1%ers , but these . That is, the 1%ers which are constantly talked about in sport. Here is another example . Essentially, a 1%er is considered to be something which may contribute to success over time, but has little instantaneous value. They are seen as the solution to 'getting over the line'. They are seen as the 'icing on the cake', perhaps even the star on the tree. Yet in a sporting world increasingly reliant on scientific evidence for decision making, there is very little evidence exactly how much these things contribute. That is not to say they are not important in their own right, but what is their actual value? We call them 1%ers, but what are they really worth, and if spend all your time doing 100 of them, does that guarantee success? From everythin

A Million Different Techniques

I often hear that at the top level, there is a lot of variation as to exactly how successful athletes execute techniques. This is undeniably true. Individual differences are a critical component of elite sport. A few years ago I went to a presentation by one of the top ballet teachers in the country. She analysed the top ballet dancers of history and pointed out how none of them were the 'perfect' size and shape for ballet which all talent identification processes work towards. She went on to explain how these differences, and the ability to make up for deficiencies in some areas, were what made these dancers the very best in history. The ability to overcome limitations/challenges is part of what moulds elite performers. Having said this, I have seen significant problems when this conversation is overlaid with developing athletes. It may be true that the 10 top tennis players in the world all serve slightly differently and equally as effectively.  However it is ce

There's More to Talent

The dictionary definition of Talent is "a special natural ability or aptitude". This is generally how we use the word in sport as well. Gagne has a more comprehensive model  which turns the terminology around, describing the above definition of talent as 'Gifts', and defining 'Talent' as the end product of someone's Gifts, after environmental and personal factors influence development. Whatever the definition and terminology used, the key is that when we are attempting to predict the future success of an athlete, we rely on measurement of the natural physical abilities (gifts). But the many mental natural abilities (creativity, perceptual ability) and intra-personals traits (motivation, perseverance) which can indicate future success are ignored. Why? Because they are very hard to measure. The educated eye of a coach or sports scientist can accurately determine someone's height, weight, jump reach and skinfolds simply through observation