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Sport Coaching Has Much to Learn from A Brilliant Mathematician

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James Smith

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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.

James Smith  

https://www.amazon.com/dp/194620806X

 

 

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