When we grade the magnitude of impact of a professional we must account for all factors related to the impact itself.
As this regards coaching, particularly at the youth level, we must begin by acknowledging the behavioral impact on young people who, in the pre-adolescent stage, receive, according to evolutionary psychologists and biologists, a more profound behavioral impact from peers than they do their own parents.
Now, square this against the influence from coaches who, even if they only interact with the youths twice per calendar week, are influencing them in such a way that must be recognized according to the degree in which the youths are interested in participating in the sport.
Thus, any youth athletes who are keenly interested in sport will, arguably, receive a substantial behavioral influence, by association, from their youth coach. I state this as a conjecture relative to the influence their peers have and the fact that the more peers they have who are also keenly interested in learning sport the more that social unit is focused on the direction from the coach.
Further, we have the physical impact to account for which scales all the way up to the highest level of sport.
What occurs in so many sports, around the world, without argument, is physical abuse; and the other thing that distinguishes this physical abuse from the type that occurs in domestic violence is that the bulk of what occurs in sport manifests through negligence as opposed to intent.
In my argument, the potential for psychological, emotional, cognitive, and physical abuse from sport coaches overwhelms, by many orders of magnitude, any amount of incompetence that occurs at the level of, for example, a pediatrician, or any other sort of doctor, because sport coaches are, at once, in contact with groups of youths, young adults, or adults AND because the system of error correction that exists in the enterprises of medicine, science, technology...is simply absent in sport.
It is the error correction, not found in sport, that explains the exponential growth of knowledge in STEM that has not occurred in sport.
Sport, unlike STEM, is rooted, more than anything, in dogmatism. The OPPOSITE of what allows STEM to flourish and the antithesis to progress.
When we speak of the brain, behavior, and the body, and the potential damage done to each athlete by way of sport coaches who lack :
a critical rationalist epistemology that allows for cultures of criticism, creativity, and ongoing knowledge creation
emotional regulation to lead by calm-focused and demonstrate the merits of rational thinking, logic, and reason; all of which set an extraordinary behavioral example
knowledge of behavioral subtypes and the effective language skills to modulate communication across various groups
cognitive awareness of pedagogical, heutagogical, and andragogical modes of teaching to optimize the tactical/technical development of groups of athletes who vary wildly in their cognitive disposition
and the understanding of load engineering so as to optimize all modes of preparation for competition
Then perform the mathematical operation of accounting for all the athletes in the world, no matter the level, amateur/professional, from youth to the senior level, we can appreciate the amount of people on earth who, by way of their amateur or professional participation in sport, were/are/will be subject to varying degrees of psychological, emotional, cognitive, and physical abuse by an incompetent sport coach.
...because, sport lacks both the system of error correction, that substantiates so many STEM domains and explains their fantastic progress, and a sufficient objective criteria, such as the one I outline in "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching", for establishing baseline coaching competency.
The Governing Dynamics of Coaching on Vervante (suggested for international customers)
The Governing Dynamics of Coaching on Amazon
"How do you describe things that don't randomly happen? If they don't randomly happen, you have to have some kind of quantitative framework for explaining what happened"- Physicist Leonard Susskind
Attention: every coach, of every sport, in every country, on every level, on planet earth... As I've described, and continue to, the quantitative nature of every facet of sport extends beyond motion. Difficult though it is, so many facets of psychology, sensory processing, and cognition (the underlying frameworks of tactical execution) are routinely quantified in the laboratory. Shelving this, however, there's utterly no controversy surrounding the quantifiable modes of measuring motion.
Sport, in the language of motion, then becomes quantities of force, mass, and acceleration- the components of Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion; from which, so many derivations may be made to answer questions of different quantities (i.e. momentum, power, work, velocity, impulse, impact, linear, angular...).
And no human motion that occurs in sport is random.
Every sport technical execution is the action of a decision.
Every sport technical motion, the physical actions that clearly and unmistakably distinguish Association football from American Football from Water Polo, are the actions that result from decisions. And every single human action (motion) is both a product of intention/reaction (not random) and quantifiable.
To what extent is the preparation for competition quantified?
Show me what 12 weeks of competition calendar practice looks like.
Show me the detail of your strategy and tactical preparation.
Show me the series, sets, repetitions, intensities, durations, frequencies, quantities of work and rest of every facet of tactical preparation.
What does it look like?
Do these questions look like ones you'd dish off to your fitness coach? If so, that's because quantitative knowledge in sport has mistakenly been relegated to specialists apart from sport coaches.
You think it's the language of sport science, or fitness to discuss such matters.
AND THAT IS THE PROBLEM
The most quantified nature of team/combat sport coaching isn't occurring in the most important aspects of coaching (tactical/technical preparation). It's occurring in weight rooms, sprinting , jumping...but not in tactical/technical preparation.
One hears words such as sets, repetitions, intensities, and durations and one thinks, aha, strength and conditioning (a literal conundrum)
When in fact, not only is S&C redundant (because conditioning is an action verb equal to preparation, of which strength is a component), it shouldn't even exist.
Does the cook require a food preparation specialist who gets the ingredients ready for cooking, or does the cook prepare AND cook the food?
Is Lionel Messi (football) , or Tom Brady (NFL) , or Stephen Curry (NBA), or Israel Folau (Rugby), or Kyle Snyder (Wrestling), or Khabib Nurmogomedov (UFC), or James Anderson (Cricket) superior, relative, to their national and international competitors because of their bench press, or squat, or 60m sprint, or vertical jump...?
The answer is a resounding, definitive, irrefutable NO.
The superiority of every single exceptional team and combat sport athlete lies in their tactical/technical execution which are products of psychology, sensory processing, cognition, and physical motion.
Do gross physical qualities matter? Of course.
Are the gross physical qualities, alone, the difference maker in team/combat sport competition- NO
Even regarding the physical qualities you must recognize the spectrum on which they are plotted.
Messi's remarkable control of the ball in time and space is, in part, a manifestation of physical work, however, it is the nuance/subtlety of physical action (guided by the motor cortex) that results in the fine motor coordination required to dribble and manipulate the ball so precisely. This is NOT a factor of how much he can squat, or what type of leg exercises he does in the weight room.
What about Steph Curry's extraordinary 3 point shooting skill/consistency, or Khabib Nurmogomedov's unparalleled ground control, or Tom Brady's speed of release and accuracy in throwing the American football, or Israel Folau's phase play capabilities, or the dynamics of James Anderson's bowling, or even Kyle Snyder's ability to defeat significantly larger opponents in the US collegiate system? Are these superb athlete's skills explainable solely by way of weights lifted, how much, what type, how often? The answer is unmistakably NO.
Even in the case of sport tactical/technical actions that are largely constituted by high force, such as facets of wrestling, Rugby, or American Football...it is a question of how the force is applied. This explains why Kyle Snyder, impressive though he is in the weight room, would humiliate any world class 100kg powerlifter or weightlifter in wrestling who, likewise, would humiliate Kyle in a contest of solely lifting barbells.
When we speak of quantities such as force, acceleration, velocity, angular momentum, alactic power, aerobic capacity...the thinking of sport coaches must not become cognitively closed and divert this to the talk of fitness.
When I strip away your jargon, and you can no longer refer to it as batting practice, shooting drills, wrestling drills, tackling drills, 4 v 4, or 6 v 6, you must then use the languages of motion and energy.
This is why I describe the future of sport coaching in terms of sport preparatory engineering, in which tactical/technical preparation becomes substantially more quantified in terms of series, sets, repetitions, durations, intensities, and frequencies in order to unify what has been historically, and remains, fragmented.
When dealing with things more quantitatively we then possess the ability to engineer with greater reliability and consistency of outcome.
This is explains why you, at this very moment, if you're sitting, have not once thought about the structural integrity of the chair you're sitting in or whether the ceiling might collapse on your head. The codes that had to be met in order to bring to market your furniture or private or commercial construction are such that reliability is built in to the process. Otherwise, if furniture and roofs were routinely collapsing, furniture manufactures and builders would be out of business.
What about sports?
Do Messi, Brady, Curry, Anderson, Nurmogomedov, Snyder, or Folau have the ability to still perform exceptionally in contests even if the content and structure of the preceding week of practice is remarkably non-quantitative and poorly structured and sequenced relative to the type of objective analysis I describe in "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching"...?
The reason why is because the human body is an adaptive organism. It heals, it corrects, it overcomes shoddy instruction. UNLIKE furniture, building materials, or the food you eat.
If you, or the person cooking your food, overcooks the protein only marginally, it's IMMEDIATELY recognizable. The beef, fish, chicken does not self-correct, it does not recover, it cannot overcome being overcooked. It's just irreversibly overcooked and whoever overcooked is immediately exposed.
What about if you overcook your football players, basketball players, rugby players, wrestlers, or fighters? Is it as immediately recognizable as the steak, fish, or chicken that chews like rubber? Can your team or athletes still win? Are you as quickly exposed as the person who overcooked your filet mignon?
We know the objectively truthful answer is that as a coach, you can do a poor job coaching and 'overcook' your athletes, and they can still win.
So what happens when you take the sort of approach to coaching tactical and technical preparation as the engineers took in putting the plans together to build the stadiums that your athletes compete in?
What would sport (tactical/technical) practice look like?
I wrote "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching" to answer this question.
I explain how do to it.
Coaches, let's say you construct and coach practices based upon an understanding of how best to improve competition results. The question, however, is what is your understanding; and more importantly, what is your epistemology?
Epistemology is the theory of knowledge and it is central towards your perception, in general, of the world and reality. It underpins what you see from your athletes and how you make sense of what you see.
No matter how talented and hard working your athletes are, It is insufficient to conceptualize coaching based solely upon a knowledge of the laws/rules of the sport, the varied tactical approaches to out execute the competition, and a surface level appreciation/understanding of culture, psychology, and technical development.
It is critical that you take seriously your epistemology and whether or not it would serve you, your organization, your athletes, your family... to modify or change it. Clearly, you must first identify what it is.
Are you an Empiricist, who equates knowledge with experience?
Are you an Idealist, who thinks knowledge is innate?
Are you a Constructivist, who thinks knowledge is a product of human constructions- distinct from unbiased discoveries of objective truth?
Are you a Pragmatist, who selects a reference for determining what is true based upon its practical applicability in the world?
Are you a Fallibilist, who refutes the idea that one can have a good reason for a belief?
Are you a Critical Rationalist, who thinks all knowledge is conjectural and can only be created through conjecture and refutation?
These are only some examples of philosophies/epistemologies and how integral their significance is with respect to how you perceive and think about the world, and more specifically, sport, your staff, your coaches, your athletes, your families...and how to improve the results of competition, cultural establishment, tactical understanding and execution, technical skill, psychological preparation, well-being, professional competency, and life outside and beyond sport.
The discussion of subject matter such as this often renders the question- can you recommend any books that address this subject matter as it regards sport and coaching?
The Governing Dynamics of Coaching
Criticism to test the open mindedness of sport professionals. Though not for an inflammatory purpose. To the contrary, to inspire evolution; as criticism lies at the bedrock of knowledge creation.
The foundations of sport coaching reside in parochialism, nepotism, gerontocracy, dogmatism, traditionalism, and received wisdom. The entire lot of which are the bulwarks of progress.
Strip away the technological advances that are ubiquitous in sport analytics, diagnostics, and measurement...focus only on coaching methods, practice, and drills, and one is hard pressed to note remarkable change in comparing what is done today, in sport practices, to what was done 50 years ago.
In order for sport coaching and practice to experience the same type of exponential advance as is seen in Silicon Valley it must assimilate comparable cultures that are rooted in criticism, best ideas win, collaboration, innovation, and perhaps above all...a self-driven initiative of all coaches, no matter your tenure, to remain students of learning throughout the entirety of your career.
Instead, however, and particularly once coaches reach the professional level, an unspoken dysfunctional culture exists in which dedicated learning nearly comes to a halt. Coaching conferences amount to the professional level coaches, if you even go, socializing in the common areas as 'one wouldn't dare admit he has much to learn by openly demonstrating his continuing education'. Lest when the time comes that the athletes/team aren't winning, and the draconian finger begins to point looking for a scapegoat, it lands on the coach whose open efforts to learn more suggest to the 'authority' that this open admission that there's more to learn is somehow related to the deficiency associated, via confirmation bias, to the lack of competitive success.
The problem must be solved by correcting for the errors that exist at the very top of an organization; at the highest executive level in which the owners, CEOs, presidents, and managers must be educated to the magnitude of knowledge that goes unknown, yet underpins the fabric of every perception, every thought, every decision, and every action of administrators, staff, coaches, and athletes down to the level of tactical execution.
At present, the perception of what is relevant in coaching is tantamount to the visible portion of an iceberg. This visible portion is only 10% of the iceberg's total mass. The remaining 90% exists unseen, beneath the surface of the water. Yet this 90% constitutes the overwhelming majority of the iceberg. Just the same, the 90% unknown in coaching represents the solutions to every problem that is not yet even recognized by coaches as existing, yet the existence of these problems explains the lack of achieving what is achievable in addition to every hope or expectation that is not realized.
The talent and abilities of professional athletes represent one of the most potent compensators for vulnerabilities at the level of coaching and management.
This dynamic allows for large scale errors to continue to go unnoticed, and even masquerade as coaching excellence, because a talented athlete that works hard can win, IN SPITE OF incompetent coaching.
I thought very hard about this for over ten years, and my solution was to write a book that would serve as the catalyst for causing the largest scale paradigm shift in the history of sport coaching.
Click to purchase: The Governing Dynamics of Coaching
Coaches, you coach sport and the apex objective of competition is winning. The more you win as a coach, the better. Not too controversial.
Yet, none of us can predict the future; not even the most brilliant theoretical physicists or mathematicians amongst us. However, mathematical precision is also the reason why, as you read this, perhaps in your home or flat, why the last thing on your mind is whether the roof is going to collapse on your head before you reach the end of this paragraph.
The checks and balances of engineering had to be passed in order for the place you live in to pass 'code'. These checks and balances result in structural integrity and contribute to your confidence that the roof won't collapse when it rains or won't blow off when the wind blows.
In sport, I describe the future interface between engineering and coaching as sport preparatory engineering in which principles of engineering integrate and reformat the programming and organization of sport practice synthesized with any other facet of 'work' of physical character.
Understand in physics the formula for work is force x displacement x cosine angle theta (the force, for example, exerted in some direction, and the angle theta is the angle between the direction of force and the displacement).
In this way, all sport practice is 'work', all motions done apart from sport practice are 'work', all motions done in a weight room are 'work', and all motions done in rehabilitation are 'work'...and all of this 'work' must be accounted for via consolidation and unification. In this way, just as the engineering blueprint preceded the physical construction of the dwelling and the roof over your head, we must evolve sport coaching and the sophistication of understanding how practice may evolve by engineering it, along with all other forms of preparatory work, holistically (one master plan) that heightens the probability enhanced tactical execution and winning.
Now ask yourself:
- How well engineered are your sport practices?
- How might they be able to be engineered so as to increase the probability of winning?
- How might you be able to improve your mode of communication so as to most effectively educate and inspire your athletes development?
- How might you be able to evolve your psychological state so as to make faster and better coaching decisions during competition?
- How might you be able to advance your epistemology so as to form more effective models of cultural establishment and tactical philosophy?
This book describes how (order direct from my publisher and it ships anywhere in the world): http://store.vervante.com/c/v/V4081803100.html
Watch this video and see what other coaches have said about it:
Psychological Preparation Review
I originally reached out to James for physical programming however was quickly drawn into his psychological preparation training as well. The whole operator concept is often preached and the importance of training mind is significantly more important than training body. Training the mind has often been an obscure and intangible concept to me, however James has sense changed my opinion and my knowledge of the subject.
James and myself utilized weekly 30 minute phone calls for 12 weeks to increase my understanding of different psychological concepts. Essentially changing the way I thought and perceived information. I was initially very skeptical about the idea, however I can honestly say I have a much deeper understanding and respect for training my mind just as much as my body.
Though 12 weeks isn’t that long of a period of time I can already see results in the way my mind perceives and absorbs information. I foresee myself continuing to work with James well into the future, and furthering my knowledge on the concepts included in psychological preparation.
Active Duty Special Operations Soldier
Sport coaches, in principle, all horizons function the same. Meaning, they represent the boundary separating the seen and unseen; and the closer one attempts to get to them, the farther they move away.
What is critical to recognize, however, is that amidst one's attempt to approach them, no matter never reaching them, one continues to cover more ground. This is progress.
Now, consider the knowledge horizon of sport.
How would you characterize it?
What does it mean to be as knowledgeable as possible as a sport coach along with possessing the ability to practically apply the knowledge in any set of conditions?
How many subject matter domains do you think constitute this set of knowledge for optimizing sport coaching?
What do you think you, your athletes, your team, your staff, your organization... would be able to achieve if every member of your organization was unified in their objective to work towards this horizon and educated on the process?
I thought very carefully about this for well over a decade and concluded that objective sport coaching knowledge is governed by what I refer to as "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching":
The key, however, is that these mustn't be segregated in their understanding and application- which is exactly what does occur, and has occurred, in sport.
In my argument, what everyone must understand, at the level of a successful thesis argument defense, is that the unified understanding of these subject matter domains is what constitutes an acceptable baseline competency for coaching in general- and scales up from there.
"The Governing Dynamics of Coaching" represents an encyclopedic reference with the potential to redefine global coaching education and qualification.
email firstname.lastname@example.org for consulting information
The Governing Dynamics of Coaching
I recently had the pleasure of having 4 consultations with James via Skype. The topics of conversation varied, however, they were mostly pertaining to topics within his book, “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching”. I have been following James’s work for several years, so it was brilliant to be able to discuss his ideas and arguments with him personally.
Anyone who thinks that a consultation with James will be an hour of him spoon feeding you quick fixes is sorely mistaken. James encourages you to think, which at times, pushed me out of my comfort zone. This is not a complaint, as a matter of fact, this was what I enjoyed the most from our conversations. I found speaking with James challenging at times because his subject matter knowledge is so vast. Fortunately, James is a fantastic educator. He is patient and generous with his time as well as being very thoughtful when answering any questions put to him, regardless how remedial they may be.
I spoke with James about a broad number of topics. He is great company and the end of each consultation always came far too soon. Next time, I will ask more specific questions, and I would encourage any prospective clients to do the same. I could not recommend a series of consultations highly enough. Simply put, consulting with James has been the best investment I have made in my coaching education.
Na Fianna (Dublin)
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Coaches of sport, you undoubtedly seek to win and presumably were indoctrinated into traditions of coaching based upon methods of coaching that are/were associated with winning.
What's also likely true, however, is that you were NOT indoctrinated into a culture of criticizing those traditions- no matter the success of the athletes or teams associated with the coaching methods that have become canonical in your sport.
The reason for this statement is because unlike the fields of engineering, medicine, aviation, aerospace, science, technology... as whole, in which the difference between what was done 10, 20, 30, 40...years ago and what is currently being done is DRAMATIC, many sport coaching methods, across professional and Olympic sport, have remain UNCHANGED for over half a century or more.
In many ways, the most marked changes in sport lie more so in terms of the apparel, equipment, and analytical methods and technologies, but not in coaching itself.
This is because the culture of global sport coaching is largely dogmatic and resistant to change- no matter how much supportive aspects of its periphery change (i.e. nutrition, physiotherapy, weight rooms...)
The future of coaching necessitates that it embrace and be built upon cultures of criticism that create the opportunities for coaching methods to evolve commensurate with so many professional domains that have evolved by orders of magnitude beyond sport.
Innovation is the key and cultures of criticism are its bedrock. The "Governing Dynamics of Coaching" could very well be the book that changes and evolves what you thought would stand the test of time. And the result may be results you've never imagined.
The Governing Dynamics of Coaching
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