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Elon Musk as an Example for the Future of Sport Coaching

James Smith



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Another Example of Future of Sport Coaching from Elon Musk


At the recent SXSW (south by southwest) event, Jonathan Nolan (screen writer, television producer, director, author) conducted an excellent interview with Elon Musk (CEO Spacex, Tesla, Solar City, Boring Company).

Full interview

            Those familiar with my social media presence will be familiar with my references to Elon Musk as an extraordinary example of ‘global load management’. For those who do not own The Governing Dynamics of Coaching”, global load management is a term I use to characterize the future of sport coaching competency in which every sport coach will become objectively competent in understanding and managing every operational constituent of coaching (I’ve termed the operational constituents of coaching, borrowing from the late Nobel Laureate John Nash, the Governing Dynamics of Coaching).

            Important to recognize is that every subject matter domain has its own set of ‘Governing Dynamics’ with respect to my use of the term, in which every profession is characterized by its own set of parent domains of subject matter. In the book, and in my consulting, I often reference a variety of industry professionals, from a variety of professions apart from sport, in which these industry leaders ubiquitously function as fine examples of ‘global load managers’ due to their impressive knowledge and insight regarding all subject matter domains that govern their particular endeavor. Conversely, the reason it is difficult to observe a single ‘global load manager’ in sport is because of the unique compensating factor represented by athletes’ adaptive capability that renders a luxury to coaches that most other professionals are not privy to.

            Here is some transcript taken from the mentioned interview between Nolan and Musk in which Nolan’s question pertains to the ‘governing dynamics’ of Musk’s/Spacex’s pre-launch environment and Musk’s response, once again, epitomizes my definition of competence in the context of ‘global load management’. The text in bold has been highlighted so as to draw your attention to the type of questions that sport coaches must be held accountable to and how sport coaching education must evolve so as to allow any coach to answer the questions satisfactorily:

Nolan- We’re sitting in launch control and looking at the sheer amount of variables that you guys are clocking in those moments before the launch. Wind speed at different altitudes, and the status of all the different 27 engines…how do you manage, how do you…you’re very hands on with the details, but you’re also looking at the bigger picture. How do you manage your time? How do you parse, how do you zoom in and zoom out and make sure that all these things are coming together?

Musk- Well at Spacex almost all my time is spent on engineering and design. It’s probably 80 or 90%. And then Gwynne Shotwell, who’s president/chief operating officer, takes care of the business operations of the company; which is what allows me to do that. I think that in order to make the right decisions you have to understand something. If you don’t understand something at a detailed level, you cannot make a decision.

I’d like to just point out that what you saw there [footage of the recent Spacex launch], is the result of an incredible team at Spacex. Super talented people who really work like crazy to make that happen. I think my role is make sure that they have an environment where they, where their talents can really come to the fore.


Sport coaches, I encourage you to assimilate this Q&A between Nolan and Musk as being inspirational for the following analog being representative of the potential impact the “Governing Dynamics of Coaching” may have on sport coaching and the world of sport in general:

Sky Sports or ESPN: coach, in spending time with you during the week prior to competition I noticed how many quantitative variables you manage so expertly. You went from analytical film review in which you tracked the motion dynamics of your athletes and spoke the language of biomechanics, to the analysis of their sensory processing and how they mapped the visual field, to the mathematical strategizing and accounting for every exertion throughout each day no matter if it was tactical/competition rehearsal or some technical derivative of it, it seemed as if every motion the athletes performed, no matter where, was the model for mechanical efficiency in that moment, then you’d integrate psychological interventions based on the cutting edge of neuropsychological/neuroscientific/and psychiatric research, to ensuring that the loading of the athletes being rehabilitated was synthesized with competition preparation and their return to preparation with the other athletes was seamless. I noticed how you always had a blueprint with you that accounted for every single exertion your athletes performed throughout the day and how you effortlessly communicated with your sport preparatory engineer. I also thought it was unique how integrated the athletes were in problem solving. At times the only way I could distinguish athletes from your assistant coaches was by what they were wearing. How did you achieve this sort of culture and how are you able to be so hands on then zoom out to manage so many different variables of coaching and preparation?

Coach: what you saw this week is simply an example of what it means to be competent to do this job. Unlike what you probably see elsewhere, in which the head coach just has some knowledge of the rules of competition and tactical rehearsal, as the head coach I am the operational leader of the organization and this mandates that I have deep insight into every major subject matter domain that underpins coaching. We know from “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching” these subject matter domains are: cultural establishment, psychological preparation, analytical/intellectual advancement, technical/tactical/sensorimotor preparation, bioenergetic/biodynamic/biomotor and active physiotherapeutic integrations.

As a result, I have to possess a detailed and applied understanding of these domains and how to synthesize them into a coherent model. As the operational leader I am fortunate to have so many sharp assistant coaches/therapists, and my sport preparatory engineer. I run a flat hierarchy and encourage creative freedom from all of my people. Most important is that our culture is based upon criticism, conjecture, and creativity. No one, myself included, is above criticism and everyone, athletes included, is given a voice to criticize anyone else.

We do not recognize, in the administrative sense, any particular groups. So while I have assistant coaches whose intellect tends towards various domains of the “Governing Dynamics”, and my theorist (sport preparatory engineer), in the practical sense we all work together in problem solving and it is this type of cohesion that allows for anyone to potentially see problems in anyone else’s operations and contribute to that element of problem solving.

The blueprint you mentioned is a product of my theorist/sport preparatory engineer. Similar to an engineer in building, she engineers the actual workload for everything that we do. Every single rep of tactical/technical practice, every supportive specialized and general motion, and every aspect of active physio/rehabilitation is accounted for on the blueprint she engineers. As a theorist, she focuses exclusively on problem solving so similar to how theorists function in physics, and other areas of science, she is a resource for our entire organization. In effect, we are all experimentalists who rely upon her guidance and theories that we, as experimentalists, test in order to confirm or disprove them. This is the vehicle for constant progress. 

You probably noticed we don’t have S&C people. If you think about it, it’s unusual that that fragmented profession ever began. Can you imagine a chef who doesn’t know how to prepare his food for cooking? Like chefs, all of my assistants are fully competent which means they’re coaching or rehabbing their athletes from start to finish each day. Our athletes aren’t with one staff in the morning and another staff later on. In this way, I function similar to a general contractor who orchestrates everyone else because I have knowledge of what they do, and all my assistant coaches/therapists function as sub-contractors. We all work off the single blueprint and have the creative freedom within our domains to tailor and individualize what is done from one athlete to the next. As different as this is from any other sport organization you’ve seen, it’s actually the most practical way to do it. We haven’t invented anything new here, it’s just that we’ve assimilated how things run operationally by so many other trades that don’t have the luxury of talented athletes to compensate for a lack of knowledge and cohesion.


 You’re only an email away from starting the process of bringing this hypothetical scenario into fruition and achieving sport results you hadn’t yet imagined.

Email James@globalsportconcepts.net for consulting information on The Governing Dynamics of Coaching




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