The One Eyed King


They say that in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king. The point being that when all other things are even, the person with even a small advantage stands out, even if they are limited themselves. But what does this have to do with High Performance sport? Firstly, lets define High Performance sport.

In Australia it is very kindly defined for us by those who give us the money to do it, just so there is no confusion. The High Performance Pathway is where you are working towards Olympic (and/or World Championship) medals in consecutive Olympic Games. So actual High Performance is the end of this pathway: it is when you are in the last steps before the medal, or have already medalled and are going for another one.

So for the blind man one eye was enough, but for a high performance athlete what is enough? Surely if you are striving to be at the pinnacle of your sport, then the more the better. If strength is important, then you always want to be stronger. If height is important you always want to be taller. If skill is important then you always want to be more skilful. If physical aptitude is important then only select athletes with the most 'talent'.

But we know that these examples are flawed. The only thing that strength will win is a strongest man competition (maybe). The only thing height will win is the Guinness book of records. The only thing skill alone will win is training drills. Actually, its the combination of all the attributes of an individual and/or team that ultimately determine success. Sure, there are thresholds which are required in order to be in the competition, but after that it is more to do with the combination than individual attributes. So, rather than always trying to get 'better', why don't we look at what is enough. Rather than looking at the best, look at the threshold that enables you to be alive at the end of the competition, then work hard with those athletes.

There is no downside to this. We won't miss anyone. When we are looking at athletes who fulfil the threshold requirements for success we will not miss the ones to exceed them, but we could capture more athletes with the capacity to succeed.

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