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What the Engineering of Sport Preparation has to Learn from Physics

The scheduling of most sport practices renders a functional analog to the highest frequency electromagnetic waves- gamma rays. (To be clear, this is a criticism against the scheduling of most sport practices.)

Gamma rays are the highest known energy waves and possess wavelengths less than

10-11m (that’s .00000000001 of a meter) while carrying energy levels in excess of 1019 Hz (that’s 10000000000000000000 Hertz, and one Hertz is equivalent to one cycle per second).

*for perspective sake, the diameter of the head of pin is 1.5 millimeters which is 10-3m and the diameter of the disk of a red blood cell is 6.2-8.2 micrometers or 6.2-8.2 x 10-6m. Thus, the wavelength of a gamma ray, 10-11m or 10 picometers, is eight orders of magnitude smaller than the diameter of the head of a pin and five orders of magnitude smaller than the diameter of a red blood cell! (bear in mind that the difference between 10 and 100 is one order of magnitude, thus 105, or 100000, is five orders of magnitude greater than 10).

*Now, envisage a bicycle turned upside down so that you can slap either tire, with some horizontal force vector relative to the perpendicular to some point on the tire surface, and watch it spin freely. One revolution per second is one Hertz. Imagine the energy associated with hypothetically striking the tire with a force that renders it to spin 10000000000000000000 times a second! As unreasonable as this is to actually achieve on a bicycle wheel, this gives you some measure of the frequency of a gamma wave.

Convenient to the analog I’m describing, Gamma rays are, same as most sport practice schedules, biologically hazardous. Gamma rays because they are able to ionize other atoms (i.e. morphologically restructure them) and sport practices due to their high frequency of high energetic demand of motions. Therein lies a universal constant taken from wave physics in which the highest frequency waves contain the highest energy, same as the most concentrated intensity sport training is the sort in which high force-velocity based activity is executed too frequently (i.e. daily).

As it stands, because sport practices are typically exercises of high frequency/high intensity stimuli, their “wave characteristics” fail to modulate intensity; often only adjusting volumes one day to the next; while intensities go unchanged. This existing independently of other physically demanding loading in preparation outside of sport practice (which renders a compound result as each load variable is cumulative from the perspective of the athletes’ bodies). This misinformed scheduling of multivariate preparatory frequency (i.e. sport practice, gym work, track work, active physio…) is analogous to another phenomenon in physics known as entropy.

In thermodynamics, entropy is a function of state and characterizes the measure of disorder in a given macroscopic system. Entropy increases along with the increase in heat and, thereby, thermal energy. Thus, the higher the thermal energy the more disorder and the greater the entropy.

Greater biological hazard, greater disorder/uncertainty…so many ways for sport to reformat the operational nature of its infrastructure (how coaching staffs work) and for coaches to assimilate this knowledge and reform the dogmatic approach to sport practice, and all work done apart from sport practice, so as to achieve the maximum amount of technical/tactical skill development, and supportive foundational elements, while optimizing work to rest.

Simply put, the frequency of a given stimuli must be squared against its nature. In sport, the nature of stimuli, in the context of physical loading, manifests as sport practice and every physically demanding motion (quantified by its force: velocity characteristics) performed outside of sport practice- no matter under which faction of coaching/rehabilitation is supervising it.

It is a general principal that is being discussed here, and for this reason, it exists far beyond the context of sport, in so far as the lower the intensity the stimuli/dose the more safely and frequently it may be administered; rendering low risk. Alternatively, the higher the intensity of stimuli/dose the more hazardous it is to be administered as frequently, rendering greater risk. No matter whether its physics, medicine, alcohol, or recreational drug use, what is elementary knowledge amidst every stated community is, ironically, seemingly unknown in sport.  

In “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching” I illustrate examples of what I refer to as sport preparatory engineered blueprints. These represent the totality of what is currently recognized as sport practice and physical preparatory workloads in the form of what I propose as evolved jargon- sport preparation in which there ceases to be “sport practice” or “physical preparation”; only sport preparation which is all things done, holistically integrated, to prepare for competition. This is sequenced according what is long since known, yet rarely observed amidst the world of team and combat sport, in terms of dose intensity.

Here one may consider wave physics and allow the dimensional characteristics of a sinusoidal wave (one dimensional sine wave) itself to guide your direction in engineering the evolved way to prepare for sport competition. The crest of a sine wave signifies its amplitude and this may serve as an analog to preparatory intensity; whereas the trough of the wave is an exact opposite amplitude, in the opposite direction, of the crest. An equal proportion of crests and troughs is an important lesson regarding sport preparatory intensity and recovery; in which the greater the crest the greater the trough and vice versa. Likewise, the greater the training intensity the greater the recovery demand; and, again, vice versa. This is further encompassed by the distance between two sequential crests, or two sequential troughs, or like preparatory days, which signifies the wavelength. This may serve as an analog to when it is appropriate to stimulate with the next proportional intensity/volume. The shorter the wavelength the greater the frequency and this naturally follows that the lesser the training volume the greater it lends itself to higher frequency, regardless if the intensity is high or low.

There are 5 sinusoidal wave parameters:

  • amplitude “A”
  • wavelength “l
  • period “T”
  • frequency “f”
  • speed “v”

Given a sine wave,

  • amplitude is defined by the distance on the vertical axis between the crest, or trough, of a wave and the median of the wave
  • wavelength is a function of space and is the distance (meter) from crest to sequential crest, or trough to sequential trough
  • period is a function of time (seconds), the duration of one complete oscillation (1 crest + one trough)
  • frequency is also a function of time; it is how many periods occur per second (Hertz), (frequency and periods are reciprocals)
  • speed is the magnitude of phase velocity

The physics of sine waves will serve as the analog for optimizing the engineering of sport preparation in terms of weekly schedule.

  • Amplitude may be thought of as intensity (force and/or velocity)
  • Wavelength as a geometrical feature for planning the schedule
  • Period as the amount of time for the system to return to baseline following the intensity of the stimuli
  • Frequency as the number of preparatory episodes per unit time
  • Speed of the wave will not have particular significance in these sport analogies beyond an arbitrary value of 3m/s for calculations

Consider the following graph of three sine waves (courtesy of Wolfram Alpha) and assume that the wave velocity is 3m/s for each wave, the values on the y-axis are arbitrary and the values on the x-axis represent meters:

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 2.30.12 PM.png

In this graph, each wave has the same amplitude (4) yet that is the only parameter they share in common.

Using the formulas:

f = v/l

l = v/f (if v and f are already known, or a straight measurement may be taken from the graph)

T = 1/f

The graph of 4sin(2x)

o   f = .94Hz

o   l = 3.2m

o   T = 1.06sec

The graph of 4sin(4x)

o    f = 1.88Hz

o   l = 1.6m

o   T = .53sec

The graph of 4sin(8x)

o    f = 3.75Hz

o   l = .8m

o   T = .27sec

These mathematical truths allow us to summarize, by analogy, the following:

  • Given the same load intensity, recovery periods vary according period
  • The load volume (integral) of each wave crest doubles in proportion to the period of each wave
  • The load frequency halves as the period doubles

Problematically, if the reasoning stops here, what we’re left with is the relative actuality of faulty reasoning utilized by many coaches in sport, in which the intensity of ‘practice’ or ‘conditioning apart from practice’ remains relatively constant from day to day, and typically only varies according to volume or taxonomy. This renders a high frequency of high intensity; which, in the cases of team and combat sports, is nearly always accompanied by voluminous repetitions.

The limited cases in which this is actually effectively practiced, regards sport preparations such as Olympic weightlifting; and for a highly specific reason. To be sure, weightlifters customarily train with relatively high intensity weights on consecutive days. The reason for this utility is because the load volumes are relatively small each session. Volume being a function of the total number of repetitions of competition exercises: snatches and clean and jerks, as well as the derivatives of each.

In the near totality of other sports, however, the way in which repetitions are conceptualized actually amounts to a far greater volume of work per effort; and therein lies the rub…

In weightlifting, every repetition is a single effort, a single lift of the barbell. Alternatively, consider what most repetitions consist of in field sports:

  • Every tactical rep or play in association football, basketball, American football, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Aussie Rules, Lacrosse, Field Hockey…amounts to some volume of running, sprinting, positive and negative accelerations, direction changes, and depending on the sport, moderate to high impact collisions.
  • Even a single training rep of a T&F sprinter that might consist of a 30m acceleration is an aggregate of strides (~16).

As a consequence, what we see is that the single repetition of the weightlifter must be squared against the multiple repetitions per effort that are still referred to as single repetitions in many other sports.

A single 60m sprint in indoor T&F competition, for example, might total 29-30 strides for an elite male sprinter. Thus, what in common context is one ~95% intensity rep of 60m in training, is actually 30-31 reps of ground contacts of varying force impacts. Extrapolate this into what any ‘rep’ of field sport ‘practice’ actually consists of in terms of ground force impacts, and combative impacts, and understand that the volume of ‘impacts’ in nearly any other sport ‘practice’ amounts to orders of magnitude more force impacts than what weightlifters incur in a single session, or even a full day of two or three smaller sessions.

By revisiting the graph of sine waves 4sin(8x) and 4sin(2x) consider weightlifting as the 4sin(8x) analog and team/combat sport practice as 4sin(2x). In this way, the graphic representation illustrates the shorter period of ‘weightlifting’ which explains the reason why the relatively high intensity of weightlifting training is reasonable to achieve on consecutive days. Alternatively, however, we see the period of 4sin(2x) is four times longer, yet, in contrast to the scale of the illustration, the preponderance of team/combat sports continues to train at their own relative intensities at the same period as the weightlifter’s despite the fact, as explained, the actual volume of impacts (either with the ground or an opponent) exceed the volume of weightlifting training by a remarkable amount.

Thus, while the geometry of the team/combat sport sine wave [4sin(2x)] demonstrates four times the period of the weightlifting wave, in actuality, team/combat sport preparation fails to observe this mathematical significance, of the 1 to 1 relationship between a sine wave’s crest and trough, and require athletes to train at or near competition intensities on consecutive days.

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 12.41.35 AM.png

 

To be sure, the presented mathematical analogies do not account for the multifactorial nature of biological systems and their response to loading. Important to understand, however, is that even if the team/combat sport athletes are effectively recovering from the previous day’s work, which is a big ‘if’, the constant daily intensity is largely prohibitive to the amount of developmental technical and tactical work that could, otherwise, be achieved at reduced intensities. A simple and intuitive truth, yet rarely capitalized upon, is that as intensity decreases the possibility for increasing the volume increases- and at low structural cost.

This brings us to a partial truth that requires elaboration, however, which is that ‘repetition is the mother of skill’. This is incomplete, because the nature of what is repeated is deeply consequential towards to the quality of the outcome. Thus, while lower intensity actions allow for a far greater volume of work to be performed, it is fundamentally important to ensure the optimization of the recursive actions.

There are a multitude of professions whose infrastructure and mode of operations possess knowledge that must be extrapolated and assimilated by sports professionals. Physics is one such domain in which a triumvirate of profoundly valuable examples exist:

  • The synergy between theorists and experimentalists in which sport must learn to integrate theorist positions to guide the existing experimentalists (coaches)
  • Newtonian Mechanics underpinning biomechanics and explaining modes of calculating and quantifying all observable motion in sport
  • The lessons of wave physics and thermodynamics that demonstrate the ways in which team and combat sport preparation may evolve so as to optimize the engineering of technical and tactical development

The Governing Dynamics of Coaching” integrates multiple lessons from physics and presents solutions for the future of team and combat sport coaching. Sport preparatory engineered blueprints illustrate how medium and high intensity days of sport preparation benefit by being separated by a minimum of 48 hours and, in between, low intensity days of preparation are filled by modes of activity that allow for more profound technical and tactical development, as well as oxidative development in the competition motions, and sub-maximal intensity supportive modes of preparation.

The book was written for all facets of sport coaching, the management, administrators, and executives who contribute to the hiring of coaching, and the media who write about it.

“The Governing Dynamics of Coaching” is available on Amazon.com and Vervante.com

Email James@globalsportconcepts.net for consulting information

 

Entries in this blog

Quantify and Evolve Sport Practice

"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. Football  Passing Heading Throwing In Shooting Tackling Rugby  Passing Kicking Tackling Scrummaging Rucking Mauling American Football  Passing Catching Tackling Blocking Pulling Punting Kicking Basketball Shooting Passing Rebounding Boxing Out Blocking Posting Cricket  Batting Bowling Fielding Catching Throwing Wrestling  Front Headlocks Whizzers Ankle Picks Double Legs Single Legs Gator Rolls Counters MMA  Punches Kicks Elbows Knees Takedowns Wrestling Grappling Submissions Escapes Scrambles Counters 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.  YET... 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"...? ABSOLUTELY 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.  FUTURE 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.        

James Smith

James Smith

Diminish the Boundary Separating Sport Coaching and Engineering

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:  

James Smith

James Smith

Increase the Foundational Integrity for Sport Practice Through a Quantitative Approach

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.  Caution: 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

James Smith

James Smith

The Independent Cycles of State Space in Sport

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 https://samharris.org/podcasts/119-hidden-motives/ 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  

James Smith

James Smith

Mathematical Approach to Coaching

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 biodynamic- mechanical bioenergetic- phsyiological 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  
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