The words and dialogue used to differentiate one sport's practice, tactical and strategic preparation, from the next are nothing more than jargon.
The jargon serves an obvious utility function, however, underneath the pick and roll (basketball), quick ball (rugby), 4-3 defensive front (American football), 1-4-4-1 flat diamond (Football), or the forecheck (Ice Hockey), exists the decisions, communication, and actions that are the foundations of sport tactical execution.
The future of optimizing tactical preparation lies in fortifying its foundations during sport practice; which at present, are tantamount to planning a trans oceanic sailing voyage without knowledge of nautical navigation.
The contents of sport practice must be quantified for the purposes of optimal learning, tactical and technical development, and physical peaking; and the argument you are presented with here encourages that you use a mathematical approach.
When we drill down past the tactical/technical jargon we are left with factors related to psychology, cognition, neurophysiology, biodynamics and bioenergetics. When we drill down further to the structural and neuromuscular foundations of sport practice we are able to speak plainly about the readily quantitative nature of biodynamics, bioenergetics, and biomotor outputs. Lastly, from the standpoint of optimizing the engineering of sport practice from day to day and week to week we arrive at factors related to the intensity, volume, and frequency of work performed in practice. The intensity being the metric of primary importance.
The intensity of your athletes motion during sport practice implicates the neuromuscular, structural, and physiological cost of the work. Note the use of the word 'cost', which is used to explain the price that every athlete pays as the intensity of their motion increases (in contact/combat, wrestling, swinging, batting, kicking, shooting, passing, throwing, skating, rowing, swimming, cycling, jumping, sprinting, braking, changing directions...). Sport practice is work, and the intensity of motion is a product of force and velocity. From this one may derive the equations for work, force, power, velocity, acceleration, momentum, impulse, impact ,and more, which provide an abundance of metrics to quantify sport practice to levels of accuracy that exceed what is currently, and has been, done by over one order of magnitude.
Consider your introduction to this mode of analytical thinking to begin with the bioenergetic foundations of sport practice motion and how, once the jargon is surpassed, the energetic foundation of sport practice is described in terms of the power, capacity, and efficiency of the alactic, lactic, aerobic, and mixed energy systems that, from a physiological perspective, provide the resources necessary for the athlete's muscles to contract- a precursor for your athlete's motion.
The mathematics of engineering the bioenergetics of sport practice quantitatively approaches the intensity of competition itself by way of starting with shorter quantities of competition duration, longer quantities/or more total quantities, of competition duration, or an aggregate of the two and are described in "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching". This quantitative approach to practice will create a level of foundational integrity that will improve your team/athlete's competitive success in ways you might not have yet imagined.
Note, the structural integrity and dimensions of the foundation determine the magnitude and type of what's built on top of it. Your team/athlete's competitive success depends upon the foundational integrity of their preparation for competition.
A parochial interpretation of this may perceive what began as a sport coaching discussion has shifted to a fitness related discussion. If this has happened to you, this is evidence of the Balkanization of knowledge in sport which wrongly divides coaching into factions.
While objectively, what is being discussed here began as, and has remained, sport coaching because your athlete's psychological state informs how they process sensory input, think, decide, and access their working memory. All of which heavily impacts their tactical execution and the motion aspect of their tactical execution, which is their technical execution, is a product of bioenergetics, biodynamics, and biomotor outputs. This continuum exists under the future of sport coaching as defined in The Governing Dynamics of Coaching
Working with James has been nothing short of refreshing. His knowledge and skill set, which allows him to navigate multiple domains, is unparalleled. The chasm that exists in sport is undeniable, and James has not only revealed where these breaches are prevalent, but has given us ample remedies. It is incumbent on us, as the architects of our athletes’ experience, to competently apply the unification of these principles. James is light years ahead of where sport culture needs to go in terms of advancement, and it would be wise for us all to listen and learn accordingly.
Major League Director of Peak Performance
Sport coaches, task yourself with assuming an objective (non-emotional, and purely factual) reference frame such that your perspective for considering this write up is not influenced by any possible bias or preconception.
Now, ask yourself if your “strength coach”, if you have one, is a positive or negative component of your organization. The key, is to ask yourself this question based upon the objective knowledge of what is required to optimize your athlete’s competition results.
Your athlete’s competition outcome is a product of their competition performance. Their performance is a function of the aggregate of what substantiates their skill and competitiveness. This aggregate is predominantly a composite of psychological state and tactical execution. The tactical execution is a function of sensory processing, access to working memory, and technical execution. Their technical execution, over the course of competition, is supported by physiological, biomechanical, and output related factors.
The ‘strength’ coach’s education is ill-conceived. It is NOT a product of “this is the sport, this is the sport structure, and these are modes of enhancing the skill of improving competition outcomes”. It’s a function of “this is a weight room, this a tool, this method of using the tool causes this adaptation in the body” Thus, analogous to Elon Musk’s criticism of education in which he chastises convention for teaching about tools as opposed to the engine, how to disassemble it, and then elucidating the tools purpose, you must question whether what your strength coach is prioritizing, in fact, has anything to do with improving sport skill.
This, then, mandates, that YOU, sport coaches, have a quantitative understanding of sport skill. Which is to state, that you must have an objective mode of measuring skill improvement such that the most important indicator exists to determine if all supportive modes of sport preparation are, in fact, supporting improvements in sport skill.
Understand, that the prevention of injuries is a substrate of competition outcome because the injuries that occur in preparation and contests are detractors to competition outcome. Thus, if no quantitative improvement in sport skill is measured, and injuries are not reduced, then the additional psychological, physiological, and structural cost of “doing what the strength coach says” is not a positive attribute- it is a negative one.
The extra 10kgs on this or that exercise, the extra cm’s distance on this jump, are meaningless, if no quantitative improvement occurs in sport skill.
Consider a simplified example: a female 100m sprinter has a personal best of 11.0sec. She increases her squat 5RM by 15kg, her power clean 1RM by 10kg, and her standing broad jump by 10cm and for the remainder of her season she fails to run faster than 11.0. What use was the improvements in the squat, power clean and broad jump? No competition improvement occurred, however, the psychological, physiological, and structural cost of all the work that went into increasing the squat, power clean, and jump were a profound competing stress against THE MOST IMPORTANT part of sport preparation- SPRINTING.
So, consider, what is the nature of these competing demands being placed on your athletes who compete on, or in, tracks, pitches, ice rinks, courts, courses, mats, cages or pools? Do you have the diagnostic means in place to determine causal links? Or do you exist under the misconception that when your “strength” coach reports the improvements in non-specific aspects of preparation, you consider it a job well done- while not actually knowing whether the “strength” work positively improved sport skill or reduced injury. If this has piqued your interest, consider having a look at the book that was written to evolve and revolutionize sport coaching itself:
The Governing Dynamics of Coaching
James provided four quality consults that afforded me new knowledge in the psychological and tactical preparation subject matter. The information that was discussed began with objective elements which were then clarified through analogies to improve the understanding. I would recommend reading the book, The Governing Dynamics of Coaching, or delving into the subject matter through outside sources before retaining James otherwise a general overview will be needed which may waste valuable time during the consults. James’s vast knowledge in these critical areas will help any individual improve the alchemy of coaching.
Coaches, consider what it takes for an athlete to reach national or international level success. what might you suggest to a young athlete who aspires one day to represent their nation or compete on a professional level?
The models on offer regard long-term athlete development (LTAD) which espouse a multi-lateral engagement in sport and the establishment of a broad set of skills and abilities that focus over time.
What if this standardized model, no matter how well intentioned, is dramatically flawed and quite different than what is actually optimal?
It's entirely uncontroversial to state that individualized teaching corresponds to optimal learning. Yet we see something much different happening in sport, at all levels.
Standardized modes of coaching/education invariably cater to mediocrity; as the high achievers are not challenged enough and those with different developmental needs lag behind.
Further, the notion of all young athletes participating in a variety of sports, no matter their psychological or biomechanical variability, is tantamount to encouraging a child with a speech pathology to just engage in as many social situations as they can to sort it out.
LTAD is, in my argument, a non-starter. Failed from the outset and what must supplant it is Long-Term Sport Development (LTSD) in which, from the earliest stages, competent coaching characterizes the optimal dosing of 'The Governing Dynamics of Coaching' in which every subject matter domain that governs sport coaching is addressed in the coaching.
According to my argument, the overriding, and objective, mandate for coaching competency is that any competent coach have an applied understanding of ‘The Governing Dynamics of Coaching’. Further, the criteria for understanding should be thought of as the successful defense of a thesis in which the coach is defending a thesis argument on each one of the ‘Governing Dynamics of Coaching’. In this way, the explanatory knowledge must serve to demonstrate a thesis defense level understanding of these knowledge domains that unequivocally govern the coaching of sport.
Working in derivative fashion from sports themselves as opposed to building up towards them on the basis of general qualities that are something much different than the qualities that actually underpin sport skills.
This is the "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching": https://www.amazon.com/dp/194620806X
Listen to this podcast to hear Long-Term Sports Development being discussed: https://robbiebourke.podbean.com/e/episode-178-james-smith…/
Sport coaches, take a few minutes to consider an analogy...
You function as a type of building contractor, and if you have assistant coaches and you coach a sport with different athletes playing different positions, each position coach is a different type of sub-contractor; in addition to the coaches who specialize in the weight room, and the specialists who conduct active rehabilitation. A staff of different types of contractors and sub-contractors.
Much different from actual building sub-contractors, however, the aggregate of you, your assistant coaches, weight room coaches, and rehabilitation coaches are operating void of a unified blueprint. Instead, each group of contractors and sub-contractors are operating on the basis of their own blueprint.
Imagine if this were true regarding the contractors who built the stadiums, arenas, rinks, pools... your teams compete in, or even the house, condo, or apartment you live in?
What if....the workers who poured the foundation had their own agenda, the framers/dry wallers had their own agenda, the electricians, the plumbers, the roofers, every carpenter....had their own agenda- their own blueprint as opposed to a master blueprint that accounted for the entire structure? Would you even consider bringing your team/athletes into such an unstable environment, let alone ask your family to sleep in such a place?
Yet, this is exactly how your coaching staff has been operating.
Sport/position coaches create your own blueprints (plans for sport practice), the weight room coaches create their own blueprints, and the people who take charge of rehabilitation protocols create their own blueprints. Yet, each type of 'work' renders a structural cost to the body.
The athlete's bodies pay a price every time they practice sport, and every time they lift weights, run, and jump, and every time they do scaled versions of these as they rehabilitate from injury. Each type of 'work' has a price to pay, a set of consequences.
The body pay's a price every time it does these sorts of 'work' and the fact that you have different sport 'contractors' creating their own independent blueprints that require each athlete pay a price, should, after having considered the analogy on offer, give you cause for concern and have you wondering why this lack of convergence, why this lack of cohesive organization, has existed for so long.
You may even be wondering how your athletes or teams could have been successful in spite of this glaring contradiction, or, alternatively you may have the light bulb moment that clarifies why your athletes or teams have not been performing to the level you'd hoped for.
In either case, you owe it to your own careers, to the careers of your staff and athletes, and to your athletes well-being to develop the knowledge that will raise your level of professional trade-craft to the level of the builders who built the structure that you and your families live and sleep in.
The unified blueprint that will take sport to the next level, that will redefine your conception of 'sport practice', is a result of what I describe as 'sport preparatory engineering'. It is a process I describe in detail in the book "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching" and it is, according to my argument, simply a matter of when, not if, this mode of coaching knowledge becomes the difference maker in every sport, at every level, on earth.
Sport coaches, I ask you to consider how the insight of a brilliant mathematician might inspire you to transform your perception of coaching and how to revolutionize the process of coaching your athletes for competition.
The Fields Medal is regarded as one of the highest honors a mathematician can receive, and has been described as the mathematician's "Nobel Prize" (Wikipedia)
“To me, mathematics has two stages, the first one is to learn what other people have done. That means reading books, reading articles. Reading mathematics, beautiful mathematics, is like going to a touristic, historic, beautiful town. Somewhere like maybe Cambridge. When you walk around, you see monuments, you see beautiful architecture. And that’s like the first stage, where you just see what other people have created. The second stage is like, if I suddenly have wings and I fly over a city and I can see a lot more than before. For example, I can see more monuments; I can see connections between these monuments…the kind of thing I could just not see on the ground. In many ways, solving a problem somehow, quite often has to do with understanding connections between two concepts, two notions. “ -2018 Fields Medal Winner Caucher Birkar-
Sport coaches, consider how this principle of deepening one’s perspective/raising awareness/insight/knowledge allows one not only to see and understand more individual subjects, but to see more and more connections shared between them. This insight will allow you to see the damaging effects of the independent operations of sport coaching, strength coaching, and active rehabilitation who operate independently of one another without a single unifying mechanism; tantamount to building sub-contractors working without a common blueprint, and each sub-contractor only working according to their own blueprint. While this reads ludicrous in terms of building, this is actually what is happening in your sport organization.
What’s more, this perspective will allow you to see that the subject matter that underpins these factionalized aspects of sport preparation exists in the realm of cultural understanding/evolutionary biology, psychology, epistemology, cognitive science, neurophysiology, sociology, and linguistics.
This is implicated in:
The behavior of your staff and athletes
The rate and quality at which your athletes learn tactics
The rate and quality at which your athletes develop technical/positional skill
The ability of you and your staff to communicate and teach to ensure proportional development occurs in all of your athletes who possess highly variable psycho/social/behavioral/cognitive dispositions that affect how they interpret and respond to criticism, instruction, and how they learn
Sport, particularly teams, too often operate on the basis of military style standardized methods of instruction and communication. As a result, an implicit road block is manifest that prevents the proportional advancement in all competition related preparation of your athletes.
Standardized methods of instruction inherently render disproportional advancement in each athlete; some benefiting more and others less. The result of which is a missed opportunity. Take a moment to consider the product of 5 athletes being subject to standardized instruction which results in some of them benefiting more than others.
Athlete 1 improves by a factor of 3
Athlete 2 improves by a factor of 5
Athlete 3 improves by a factor of 7
Athlete 4 improves by a factor of 4
Athlete 5 improves by a factor of 6
The average improvement is a factor of 5.
Square this against a method of instruction that takes into account the variability of each athlete’s psyche, temperament, and cognitive specifics which results in proportional improvements in each athlete:
Each athlete improves, at minimum, by the highest factor achieved by a single athlete in the standardized approach (a factor of 7 across the board)
As soon as you begin to approach the tradecraft competency of professionals outside of sport in whom interdisciplinary knowledge is a prerequisite, the sooner you will achieve a paradigm shift in the coaching process that will result not only in winning, but the moral, intellectual, and psychological development of your staff and athletes that is central to their human well-being during and long after their career in sport comes to an end.
“The Governing Dynamics of Coaching” is the book that describes how to achieve this and ‘sport preparatory engineering’ is the solution to unifying the segregation that is implicit to the independent operation of sport coach, strength coach, and active rehabilitation.
The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis of the 1930’s and 1940s…” showed that variability is conserved by the mechanisms of heredity, that selection can be extremely effective both in changing the composition of a population and maintaining variation, and that random mutations are the source of variability on which selection and other evolutionary forces act.” (Michael Bonsall and Brian Charlesworth, Genetics and the causes of evolution: 150 years of progress since Darwin)
I point the reader’s attention toward the bold text: random mutations are the source of variability on which selection and other evolutionary forces act.
This is taken from the scientific Neo-Darwinist context of the actual causes of evolution and reflects modern science’s best understanding of the evolutionary process to date. From this, I ask you to consider what features of mutation may be intentionally generated via mankind’s extraordinary capacity to generate explanatory knowledge.
This capacity allows for an accelerated rate of progress far in excess of what occurs in its absence; such as what is seen and has been researched in the context of all other life on earth and it’s extraordinary yet extremely slow process of evolution.
What has taken ‘nature’ millennia or several generations (regarding life forms with shorter and shorter life spans) to evolve various species, is something that, in the case of the intervention of beings with explanatory knowledge, takes days/weeks/month to evolve in the technological space, for example. Further, as gene editing advances, the same sort of accelerated progress will be made on the biological level in humans (controversial though this subject remains).
Essential to recognize is the role that mutation, itself, plays in the course of evolution.
In the evolutionary context, mutation is defined as “The changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form that may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.” (Oxford Dictionaries)
What explanatory knowledge allows for, however, is the intentionality of change at the foundational level in error detection and problem solving.
Sport, since its inception by any formal definition, exists in its first hundred years of life. And unlike the exponential advances seen in the technological domains that support sport related efforts, sport coaching and coaching education have failed to integrate the type of explanatory knowledge necessary to cause the ‘mutations’ required to evolve sport coaching and coaching education to the level explanatory knowledge allows for.
In simple terms, what is knowable in the world, in the dozens of intellectual domains that are directly implicated in sport coaching (which I referred to as The Governing Dynamics of Coaching) represents a knowledge horizon.
The questions are:
Where are coaching and coaching educational references plotted on the spectrum in relation to the horizon?
What is the differential separating what is knowable in the world, and known in coaching and coaching education?
These are the questions I address in “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching” and if you recognize the objective truth that explanatory knowledge is arguably a ‘super power’ with infinite potential, then you must also recognize that a failure to apply it, and all that is knowable, towards sport coaching and coaching education is tantamount to allowing a winning lottery ticket to sit in your drawer.
True philosophers who are burning with love for truth and learning never see themselves . . . as wise men, brim-full of knowledge . . . For most of them would admit that even the very greatest number of things of which we know is only equal to, the very smallest fraction of things of which we are ignorant. Nor are these philosophers so addicted to any kind of tradition or doctrine that they suffer themselves to become their slaves, and thus lose their liberty.
Alas, I draw the reader’s attention to the objective truth that, in respect of the philosophy of Karl Popper, as humans our room for error, and implicit fallibility, is infinite. For this reason, the notion of striving for success is, by association, infinitely enhanced by identifying and correcting errors; as opposed to engaging in, what is actually a fallacy and unattainable, the quest for perfection.
This extends beyond any abstract theory, directly to the practical; in so far as it is commonplace for organizational leadership to speak of the quest for success in terms of optimizing or maximizing some aspect of performance, void of the difference making objective truth that the way to do is by finding and correcting errors. It is in the quest for the identification and correction of errors that exists the identification of soluble problems, and, as physicist David Deutsch states, all problems are soluble…given the proper knowledge. Little by little, then, as errors/problems are detected and solved, “performance” improves. Note, not by directly attempting to improve performance, per se, but by finding and correcting errors.
What follows, then, is the compulsory, and ongoing, pursuit of knowledge creation, only possible through criticism and conjecture, and not experience, that is fundamental for identifying and solving problems; which only uncover deeper problems…
The knowledge horizon is approximate to the horizon we’ve all seen from a vantage point high enough off the ground or on the shore of any ocean, in that, no matter the effort one manifests to reach it, it’s unattainable; it always remains out of reach. In the process of attempting to reach it, however, one is constantly gaining ground, or more knowledge.
We may, as a result, consider knowledge on a spectrum in which the most knowledgeable “experts” are plotted on one end and the least knowledgeable individuals are on the other. Wherever one is plotted on the spectrum, there will always exist a differential separating him or her from the foremost experts in the related field. The process of searching for the objective truth reduces the knowledge differential, yet only momentarily due to the infinite space for knowledge creation, and reducing the differential between what’s knowable and what you know is the difference in attaining progress, or not.
As it regards sport competition and sport coaching, I wrote the “Governing Dynamics of Coaching” in order to illustrate the magnitude of soluble problems that exist in coaching, coaching education, hiring coaches, and how to solve them via reducing the differential between what has long since been knowable and what is not yet known in sport. In the book, you will find solutions for strategically preparing for sport competition that dramatically shift the paradigm of how this process has occurred to date.
1) “Working with James for a second cycle of coach education consulting has proved invaluable in advancing my understanding of the substrates of high performance sport. Completing multiple series’ of consulting allowed us to discuss each of the Governing Dynamics multiple times in successive detail; and just as with training or preparation, each time we revisit a concept we are able to develop a deeper knowledge and deeper understanding of the content to then re-integrate into the program. I would highly recommend that coaches and professionals working with James consider multiple rounds of consulting, as it will afford you the opportunity to advance yourself at an accelerated rate and create the potential for truly meaningful advancement. James’ depth of knowledge is immense and will likely not be captured in a single cycle of consulting work. Advancing yourself, your organization, and profession at a rapid rate is well worth the time and expense.”
2) “Hiring James as a consultant was the best investment of my coaching career. It has made an impact on my coach education that is unparalleled and has set me on a course to advance my knowledge and my athletes’ knowledge that will allow us to push forward in ways not yet seen, and hopefully advance the profession of sport while still in our lifetimes.”
3) “I am convinced that my coach education consulting with James’ helped propel me forward as a coach, and ultimately my team to a National Championship. Working with James through the Governing Dynamics and simultaneously implementing the concepts with my athletes yielded us increasingly positive results, culminating in the highest achievement available to us – a National Championship.”
4)“For any coach dedicated to honing their craft and pushing forward the profession of sport, it should be mandatory to work with someone like James. I have worked with James in multiple rounds of coach education consulting, and each time have been able to successfully implement additional aspects of the Governing Dynamics and achieve increasingly positive results. I am confident in saying that without my education garnered via working with James, I would not have been able to lead my team to its first National Championship title.”
- Brad Richard – Head Coach- Charlotte Rugby
The Governing Dynamics of Coaching on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/194620806X
Governing Dynamics of Coaching Consulting
Beginning in 2018 I had come to a point in my education and career where I wanted to expand my knowledge. I felt a need to be pushed in areas that may not be strengths of mine and in the past I possibly felt were not needed for me to know or be successful. I spent many years looking for something or someone to provide this education and to be pushed accordingly. I looked into online Doctoral programs and never could find something that I felt covered a global view of sports. From people I trust James Smith’s new book was highly recommended. I purchased the book “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching” immediately following its release. I had read and viewed James material in the past, but this book was something much more. As I dove through it I was very impressed by the depth and variety of knowledge it provided. It provided a very global perspective for preparing athletes. It gave me perspective of other fields and how the structure that currently exist in these other fields could exist in sports. Naturally the book left me with even more questions and left me at a standstill. I spent 2017 debating how I could implement the information.
At the beginning of 2018 I made a decision to do a full Governing Dynamics consultation. I spent 8 weeks diving into all of the Governing Dynamics of Coaching with James. What I thought I knew and understood from reading the book was given much more context and practical application. The 8-week consultation gave me the knowledge of what could exist and the current dysfunction that exist in each area of sports. It gave me a new perspective of this information and that it was not for strength coaches, but for coaches and can be applied for any sport. I have worked in numerous sports throughout my career always looking from a Strength & Conditioning/Sports Science lens. Now I look from a coaching lens and now feel very comfortable applying it to any sport that I work within. As the book did, following the 8 weeks of consulting I still have more questions and am working on a way to layout my own education to continue to further my knowledge in each Governing Dynamic. This will be an endless process and to apply it and be successful in its application will be the biggest test! I understand that 8 weeks of consulting only will scratch the surface and further consulting will be needed. I will continue this process as there are deeper details I seek.
In the beginning I took time for me to be comfortable to let my guard down to what I do daily and offer criticism for all areas of sports and to criticize even the information James was giving me. Once I did I feel as if I am seeing much clearer and now see what could be possible in sports. As David Deutsch is quoted in the beginning of James book “The limiting factor is not resources, for they are plentiful, but knowledge, which is scarce” Every university and organization I have been a part of in my career has had plenty of resources to be successful, but what was missing was knowledge to allow for continued improvement of the athletes I worked with. James consulting has provided me a deeper knowledge of the Governing Dynamics of Coaching and now it is on me to apply it successfully.
Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach
In humans, intellect is tantamount to hardware, while knowledge is tantamount to software; and critical thinking skills are the cash value in most practical circumstances.
Intellect approximates to IQ (intelligence quotient) and is relatively fixed by early adulthood. Knowledge, on the other hand, is a mutable domain that is namely distinguished between information (data retention) and understanding. The former serving a utility during trivia games, computations, or cramming for a test, while the latter is, uncontroversially, the area of interest for most. Physicist David Deutsch has expounded upon the corollary between understanding knowledge and explanatory ability; in which one's explanatory ability is the direct line to the degree to which he or she understands something.
The mode by which one's intellect, coupled with their understanding knowledge, is put into practice (i.e. through verbal or written explanation) is manifest via critical thinking.
A couple podcasts of mine pertaining to this subject:
Critical Thinking- Why
Critical Thinking- How
Oxford Dictionary defines critical thinking as: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement
From this, we may further consider the definitions of the key words that compose the definition:
objective- not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts
analysis- detailed examination of the elements or structure of something
evaluation- the making of a judgement about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment
judgement- the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions
It's also worth defining 'thinking'- the process of considering or reasoning about something
At the dawn of the creation of http://globalsportconepts.net , in 2013, I was taking notes on a thermodynamics class hosted by MIT's open courseware, and the professor, whose name I apologetically have forgotten, started off by explaining how learning the definitions associated with thermodynamics gets one about halfway there regarding understanding thermodynamics as a whole. This concept resonated strongly with me and I since took seriously the process of looking up definitions of words. I should note that this pertained not only to new words that I would add to my vocabulary, but words that were/are already part of my vocabulary. This is because, upon further thinking about many of the words we use in dialogue, I realize how unconvinced I was that we fully understand their definitions. As indicated, information and understanding knowledge are to be distinguished from one another; yet they needn't be polarized from one another. As, to know well enough how to use a word in a sentence is achievable short of understanding any subtleties of its definition compared to other words with similar definitions; while the deeper the knowledge one has both in terms of information retention AND understanding, the more capable he/she is in their mode of problem solving . Alas, I digress, as the significance of learning the definitions associated with critical thinking (and engaging in the associated practices) are, in and of themselves, a viable mode of improving one's critical thinking skills.
Vital to point out is the self-discovery necessary within each individual that is required in order to determine the most effective process of developing one's own critical thinking skills.
Using myself as an example, I realized early on that I was drawn to both analytical as well as synthetic modes of thinking, who was strongly drawn to becoming a polymath:
German (used to be able to read, write, speak, however this has slipped due to nonuse)
Spanish (conversational in the conversational basics, reading, and writing)
Portuguese (conversational in the conversational basics, reading, and writing)
Russian (learned to read Cyrillic in an afternoon in 2013, continue to plug away at vocabulary)
Caricature, Figure Drawing, Gesture Drawing, Sketch
Jazz guitar (BA, Cum Laude, Berklee College of Music as a Performance Major)
some piano, some trumpet
Areas of Research/Self-Learning/Self-Study
*Due to their foundational role in critical thinking, I have personally found immense value in studying physics and mathematics
Professional Consulting Skills
The process of the research that amounted to the completion of "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching" evolved into facets of what I do as a consultant. The Governing Dynamics of Coaching, themselves, are representative of the polymaths that coaches, according to my argument, must become; in which deep knowledge must be developed as it regards:
Active Physiotherapeutic Typology/Integration
Sport Preparatory Engineering
Global Load Management
While this partly elucidates on the process of advancing my own polymath and critical thinking skills, it is essential that any reader consider, and perform any necessary/associated self-discovery, what end of the analytical-synthetic thinking spectrum you reside at and, as a result, what modes of intellectual stimulation resonate most strongly within you.
The strategic preparation for sport is an exercise in critical thinking as:
Culture is the bedrock from which all knew knowledge emerges and the set of ideas that influences all thought and behavior
Criticism and conjecture are the only possibilities for knowledge creation
Psychological Preparation includes understanding the science of the brain and the development of psychological skills necessary to achieve targeted success independent of all factors outside of one's control
Technical/Tactical/Sensorimotor Preparation are the distinguishing tradecraft elements that define the neurophysiological, bioenergetic, biodynamic, and biomotor abilities intrinsic to success in sport and military operations
Bioenergetic/Biodynamic/Biomotor Preparation constitute, broadly speaking, the development of energy systems, motions, forces, and motor skill outputs.
Physiotherapeutic Interventions are, namely, the non-surgical therapies and modalities necessary to support the accelerated regeneration and/or rehabilitative return to sport/operations
Sport Preparatory Engineering is the engineered blueprint that accounts for all neuromuscular/structural load stress incurred by athletes
Global Load Management- the future of head sport coaching/ leadership in which the head individual is truly competent in all relevant fields of influence/preparation
I have not yet provided a definition for 'critical' itself. As a sensible conclusion to this blog entry I have done so on purpose.
Oxford dictionary defines critical, in adverb form, (as the word is used in the phrase critical thinking), as:
having a decisive and crucial importance in the success, failure, or existence of something.
Allow for something to be the success or failure of your sport organization. In this way, regardless if you are an analytical or synthetic thinker, I suggest to you that it is fundamentally important that you consider advancing your own critical thinking skills, as they relate to any and all of The Governing Dynamics of Coaching
Another Example of Future of Sport Coaching from Elon Musk
At the recent SXSW (south by southwest) event, Jonathan Nolan (screen writer, television producer, director, author) conducted an excellent interview with Elon Musk (CEO Spacex, Tesla, Solar City, Boring Company).
Those familiar with my social media presence will be familiar with my references to Elon Musk as an extraordinary example of ‘global load management’. For those who do not own “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching”, global load management is a term I use to characterize the future of sport coaching competency in which every sport coach will become objectively competent in understanding and managing every operational constituent of coaching (I’ve termed the operational constituents of coaching, borrowing from the late Nobel Laureate John Nash, the Governing Dynamics of Coaching).
Important to recognize is that every subject matter domain has its own set of ‘Governing Dynamics’ with respect to my use of the term, in which every profession is characterized by its own set of parent domains of subject matter. In the book, and in my consulting, I often reference a variety of industry professionals, from a variety of professions apart from sport, in which these industry leaders ubiquitously function as fine examples of ‘global load managers’ due to their impressive knowledge and insight regarding all subject matter domains that govern their particular endeavor. Conversely, the reason it is difficult to observe a single ‘global load manager’ in sport is because of the unique compensating factor represented by athletes’ adaptive capability that renders a luxury to coaches that most other professionals are not privy to.
Here is some transcript taken from the mentioned interview between Nolan and Musk in which Nolan’s question pertains to the ‘governing dynamics’ of Musk’s/Spacex’s pre-launch environment and Musk’s response, once again, epitomizes my definition of competence in the context of ‘global load management’. The text in bold has been highlighted so as to draw your attention to the type of questions that sport coaches must be held accountable to and how sport coaching education must evolve so as to allow any coach to answer the questions satisfactorily:
Nolan- We’re sitting in launch control and looking at the sheer amount of variables that you guys are clocking in those moments before the launch. Wind speed at different altitudes, and the status of all the different 27 engines…how do you manage, how do you…you’re very hands on with the details, but you’re also looking at the bigger picture. How do you manage your time? How do you parse, how do you zoom in and zoom out and make sure that all these things are coming together?
Musk- Well at Spacex almost all my time is spent on engineering and design. It’s probably 80 or 90%. And then Gwynne Shotwell, who’s president/chief operating officer, takes care of the business operations of the company; which is what allows me to do that. I think that in order to make the right decisions you have to understand something. If you don’t understand something at a detailed level, you cannot make a decision.
I’d like to just point out that what you saw there [footage of the recent Spacex launch], is the result of an incredible team at Spacex. Super talented people who really work like crazy to make that happen. I think my role is make sure that they have an environment where they, where their talents can really come to the fore.
Sport coaches, I encourage you to assimilate this Q&A between Nolan and Musk as being inspirational for the following analog being representative of the potential impact the “Governing Dynamics of Coaching” may have on sport coaching and the world of sport in general:
Sky Sports or ESPN: coach, in spending time with you during the week prior to competition I noticed how many quantitative variables you manage so expertly. You went from analytical film review in which you tracked the motion dynamics of your athletes and spoke the language of biomechanics, to the analysis of their sensory processing and how they mapped the visual field, to the mathematical strategizing and accounting for every exertion throughout each day no matter if it was tactical/competition rehearsal or some technical derivative of it, it seemed as if every motion the athletes performed, no matter where, was the model for mechanical efficiency in that moment, then you’d integrate psychological interventions based on the cutting edge of neuropsychological/neuroscientific/and psychiatric research, to ensuring that the loading of the athletes being rehabilitated was synthesized with competition preparation and their return to preparation with the other athletes was seamless. I noticed how you always had a blueprint with you that accounted for every single exertion your athletes performed throughout the day and how you effortlessly communicated with your sport preparatory engineer. I also thought it was unique how integrated the athletes were in problem solving. At times the only way I could distinguish athletes from your assistant coaches was by what they were wearing. How did you achieve this sort of culture and how are you able to be so hands on then zoom out to manage so many different variables of coaching and preparation?
Coach: what you saw this week is simply an example of what it means to be competent to do this job. Unlike what you probably see elsewhere, in which the head coach just has some knowledge of the rules of competition and tactical rehearsal, as the head coach I am the operational leader of the organization and this mandates that I have deep insight into every major subject matter domain that underpins coaching. We know from “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching” these subject matter domains are: cultural establishment, psychological preparation, analytical/intellectual advancement, technical/tactical/sensorimotor preparation, bioenergetic/biodynamic/biomotor and active physiotherapeutic integrations.
As a result, I have to possess a detailed and applied understanding of these domains and how to synthesize them into a coherent model. As the operational leader I am fortunate to have so many sharp assistant coaches/therapists, and my sport preparatory engineer. I run a flat hierarchy and encourage creative freedom from all of my people. Most important is that our culture is based upon criticism, conjecture, and creativity. No one, myself included, is above criticism and everyone, athletes included, is given a voice to criticize anyone else.
We do not recognize, in the administrative sense, any particular groups. So while I have assistant coaches whose intellect tends towards various domains of the “Governing Dynamics”, and my theorist (sport preparatory engineer), in the practical sense we all work together in problem solving and it is this type of cohesion that allows for anyone to potentially see problems in anyone else’s operations and contribute to that element of problem solving.
The blueprint you mentioned is a product of my theorist/sport preparatory engineer. Similar to an engineer in building, she engineers the actual workload for everything that we do. Every single rep of tactical/technical practice, every supportive specialized and general motion, and every aspect of active physio/rehabilitation is accounted for on the blueprint she engineers. As a theorist, she focuses exclusively on problem solving so similar to how theorists function in physics, and other areas of science, she is a resource for our entire organization. In effect, we are all experimentalists who rely upon her guidance and theories that we, as experimentalists, test in order to confirm or disprove them. This is the vehicle for constant progress.
You probably noticed we don’t have S&C people. If you think about it, it’s unusual that that fragmented profession ever began. Can you imagine a chef who doesn’t know how to prepare his food for cooking? Like chefs, all of my assistants are fully competent which means they’re coaching or rehabbing their athletes from start to finish each day. Our athletes aren’t with one staff in the morning and another staff later on. In this way, I function similar to a general contractor who orchestrates everyone else because I have knowledge of what they do, and all my assistant coaches/therapists function as sub-contractors. We all work off the single blueprint and have the creative freedom within our domains to tailor and individualize what is done from one athlete to the next. As different as this is from any other sport organization you’ve seen, it’s actually the most practical way to do it. We haven’t invented anything new here, it’s just that we’ve assimilated how things run operationally by so many other trades that don’t have the luxury of talented athletes to compensate for a lack of knowledge and cohesion.
You’re only an email away from starting the process of bringing this hypothetical scenario into fruition and achieving sport results you hadn’t yet imagined.
Email James@globalsportconcepts.net for consulting information on The Governing Dynamics of Coaching
The Independent Cycles of State-Space in Sport
"We are collectively ignorant compared to what we could be. We are a vast population, a vast world, lots of smart people/very capable people. We have many great tools, and we just don't pull that together into a consensus that we can use very well" - Robin Hanson
The wisdom contained in the quoted text from Robin Hanson is of universal relevance. In his linked discussion with Sam Harris, among many insightful offerings, Robin notes the prudence in identifying a neglected area that few people seem to be aware of and utilizing that opportunity to make a contribution.
This is precisely what I elected to do in writing “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching”.
Though, in sport, there are isolated pockets of insightful thinking, the fact that these insights are isolated is a problem. Though, it is only half of a larger binary problem; in which the other half exists as a lack of cohesive interdisciplinary knowledge underpinning the education of any individuals working in sport. This is approximate to the independent cycles of state-space systems in classical mechanics.
In classical mechanics, a system represents a collection of particles, fields, waves…and dynamical systems represent a certain level of change and complexity. A state-space is a collection of all states occupied by a given system. In sport, historically and currently, a 3 state system exists with three independent cycles in which sport coaching, physical conditioning, and active physiotherapy/rehab each constitute a state and an independent cycle; in which the loading of each cycle is independent from the next.
The problem with independent cycles of states in sport is that each one, in which an aspect of structural/neuromuscular loading occurs, exists incoherently with the others, because there is no underlying architectural/compositional framework that both synthesizes and accounts for everything done. In classical mechanics state-space diagrams, the arrows represent the directionality of time; in which one may clearly represent motion from one state to another, or unto itself (you can see the next state from the current state). This renders the deterministic character to classical mechanics (its predictive capability based upon the detailed knowledge of initial conditions); yet the dynamical laws of classical mechanics must not only be deterministic, they must be reversible. In this way, when the arrows are reversed they must still represent a deterministic system.
The first evolutionary step in amending this problem of independent state cycles in sport is what I refer to a sport preparatory engineering; in which an individual with the requisite interdisciplinary knowledge engineers the blueprint that cohesively unifies the existing divergent modes of preparation and rehabilitation. This then approximates how engineers function in building, in which the engineering underpins what is creatively (architecturally) achievable and the resulting blueprint underpins what is executed/physically instantiated by contractors.
Sport, on the other hand, is, and has been, curiously, tantamount to building without engineering or a blueprint- only contractors working independently of each other with respect to the fact that their work is not based upon a common blueprint; but three separate/independent blueprints. This clearly paints a disastrous notion in the context of building; yet the reason it is not immediately noticeable as disastrous in sport is because unlike building materials, the human adaptive capability of athletes allows them to self-correct.
Sport coaches, physical conditioning coaches, and physios may think of yourselves as contractors and while each contractor executes your own creative freedom in practice, the historical and existing problem in sport is described by the independent nature of your operations and the resulting cumulative load incurred by athletes. For this reason, the introduction of sport preparatory engineering will immediately resolve the existing dysfunction by connecting your independent state cycles with a common blueprint.
This is only the first step, however. As the ultimate state of evolution for sport is to advance to a two-state system in which sport coaching subsumes what has mistakenly diverged into sport coaching + physical conditioning. While this is the current dynamical state of nearly every sport program in the world, it is no less dysfunctional as this is not only tantamount to chefs who only know how to cook food, yet cannot prepare it to be cooked; it's worse because of the cumulative load impact resultant of different authors working independently of each other.
The future lies in unification to a two state system, in which sport coaches expand their interdisciplinary knowledge to account for all modes of preparation (which I've termed the Governing Dynamics of Coaching) and existing physical conditioning coaches either become sport coaches or sport preparatory engineers (which also mandates the expansion of interdisciplinary knowledge of The Governing Dynamics).
As much of a radical change is this symbolizes in sport, this merely approximates what has long since existed in many domains apart from sport in which the medium of tradecraft is far less forgiving than the adaptive capabilities of athletes, and has thusly required the systemic cohesion of all participants.
Sport preparatory engineering is the first step.
email James@globalsportconcepts.net for consulting information
A deepened understanding of mathematics provides anyone with an added dimensional perspective on the universe as whole. Such is the sentiment that was shared by the famed Charles Darwin who stated "I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics; for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense".
As this regards sport, and preparation as whole well beyond sport, I have found extraordinary utility in not only the analogs to be found from derivatives and integrals, but also a near literal translation of their mathematical roles to an applied setting in, for example, sport coaching.
In the mathematical sense, understand that derivatives are slopes of functions (rates of change) and with each subsequent derivative that is calculated another rate of change is found (and then it becomes a matter of how many dimensions one is working in as this determines the nature of the derivative). Alternatively, integrals are anti-derivatives in that they are sums/areas under curves in addition to three dimensional, and beyond, sums that account for volumes of solids and more.
What's to be understood here is that both derivatives and integrals are relative to functions from the standpoint that the first derivative taken, of a given function, is one step removed and an integral of that derivative brings you back to the original function. In this way, I draw your attention to any conceivable sport, or military tactical, motion and recognize this motion as a function. Preparatory motions may then arise as both derivatives taken from the sport motion in question as well as integrals that work their way towards the same sport motion. The significance is that the derivatives and integrals, in this example, are contextualized by the sport motion (function).
Sport jargon, while clearly helpful is no where near as universal as mathematical language, has brought us Dynamic Correspondence, Transfer of Training, and Special Strength Training; however, what each describes are processes predicated upon what they all share in common; which is their mathematical common ground. The closer the derivative or integral (preparatory motion) is to the original function (sport motion), in terms of a new set of criteria to be explained forthcoming, the greater the impact on improving the intended result on the respective sport motion.
The work of the esteemed Anatoly Bondarchuk and late Yuri Verkhoshansky gave us Training Transfer and Dynamic Correspondence, respectively; and to this I will ad criteria that are of apex significance in contexts in which they are intrinsic to the execution of the sport motion. The work of Bondarchuk and Verkhoshansky gave as all physical motion substrates to consider in terms of kinematics and kinetics. That stated, however, does not account for the psychomotor and sensorimotor aspects of motion execution that are often definitive in their realization. As a result, I propose that the criteria expand from biodynamic, bioenergetic, and biomotor considerations to:
psychomotor- the implications of conscious mental activity on motion
sensorimotor- the implications of sensory processing on motion
biomotor- output/kinesthetic (which relates to sensorimotor)
Of paramount importance is that the psychomotor and sensorimotor aspects of preparation be elaborated upon, and instructed, based upon the subtleties of each that underpin the motion in question.
The result of applying this expanded criteria, mathematically influenced from my perspective, to sport/military preparation is one that will ensure an even higher assurance that what's done in preparation will most significantly impact the preparatory objective.
You have my theoretical offering, experimentalists...the floor is yours.
Email James@globalsportconcepts.net for consulting information
The Static Institution of Sport
“Infinite ignorance is a necessary condition for there to be infinite potential for knowledge. Rejecting the idea that we are ‘nearly there’ is a necessary condition for the avoidance of dogmatism, stagnation, and tyranny.”
Yet sport remains entrenched in these progress halting factors and the solution to amending this requires a perceptual change.
In “The Beginning of Infinity” physicist David Deutsch provides one of the more information dense (i.e. knowledge per sentence) books that one might come across; apart from his first book “The Fabric of Reality”.
Of particular note, due to one of the book’s many principles of universal relevance, is the description of static and dynamic societies, that will heretofore be referenced in terms of the institution of sport. In short, static societies are ultimately authoritarian and tyrannical due to their resistance to
and supression of criticism and creativity. As a result, these societies are built upon dogma, as opposed to reason, that is forced upon its population and the lack of a tradition of criticism prevents progress. Dynamic societies, on the other hand, are built upon traditions of criticism that support creativity and, as a result, ongoing progress.
Perhaps to the surprise of many, is that sport is very much a static institution. The proof of this is relatively straight forward: Consider the accolades awarded to coaches based upon their athlete’s/team’s achievements and how these achievements are equated with said coaches method of coaching. In the context of logical argument this is known as affirming the consequent and is regarded as invalid and a fallacy. Simply put, one cannot utilize a ‘result’ as an opportunity to rationalize what led to the result. The reason- because of how many other possible causes there are for the same result to happen. Yet in sport, this logical truth is, and has been, violated since the dawn of sport. Further, this self-deception by which many individuals operate contributes to the authoritarian nature of how the majority of sport organizations are led in which culture’s are highly resistant to criticism and creativity is constrained to highly finite infrastructural boundaries. In order for sport teams/organizations to achieve objective progress, relative to the set of achievable possibilities, this fact must be recognized and steps must be taken to recitfy it. The size of the differential separating what is done in sport and what is actually doable, must not be underestimated.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for consulting information
Contrary to the perceptions of ESPN senior writers, the NFL Combine measures everything that doesn’t matter and nothing that does.
Remember, if everyone knows better, than they'd have done something about it by now See refutations of the article below and if you're interested in reading about the future of sport coaching, coaching education, and hiring coaches: https://www.amazon.com/dp/194620806X
Why is Doesn’t Matter Too Much: while the concept of starting and accelerating explosively is a premium commodity for the majority of field sport athletes, the 40 itself only has marginal relevance for the American football players whose positional requirements approximate unobstructed linear acceleration over that distance. This brings us to wide outs and corners, punt and kick returners and gunners, and, to a lesser extent, running backs. Most important to understand, however, is that a review of the top 10 wide outs and running backs of all time, demonstrates how few of them earned, or were capable of, “outstanding” performances in the 40
Why it is Mostly Irrelevant: typically associated with explosive power/ lower body power, those who offer these false claims lack an understanding of Newtonian Mechanics- which is to state the laws that govern macroscopic motion. Knowledge of this utterly fundamental field of subject matter demonstrates that power is a function of time as its component parts (force and velocity) are both functions of time. The result is that any measurement that does not account for the rate of motion per unit time cannot be associated with power. What the vertical jump tests is vertical displacement, regardless of time. In this way, the vertical jump tells most people something different than they think it does and only correlates to competitive situations in which the player’s vertical displacement, irrespective of time, is the determining factor.
Why it’s relatively Meaningless: the 20yd shuttle quantifies a motion that, for all intents and purposes, is unobservable in competition. Do you require more argument?
Why it is Mostly Irrelevant: see the explanation for the vertical jump’s relative lack of meaning and replace vertical displacement with horizontal displacement.
Why it’s relatively Meaningless: see the explanation for the 20yd shuttle’s relative lack of meaning.
225lb Bench Press for Reps
Why it is absolutely Meaningless: the one test whose lack of meaning is recognized by most evaluators. What’s more, however, the endeavor to do a thing as many times as possible, irrespective of time, mandates even more of a re-think.
The argument of primary significance is that the entirety of motions that are quantified at the NFL combine are ones that any athlete could perform exceptionally well in, whilst, not only never having competed in American football, not even knowing how. From this, every year the NFL combine remains as is, is another year in which all associated legislative personnel demonstrate their lack of understanding of what to measure.
Moral of the story: The NFL Combine measures everything that doesn’t matter and nothing that does.
Email James@globalsportconcepts.net for consulting information