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Critical Thinking and the Success or Failure of Sport

James Smith


In humans, intellect is tantamount to hardware, while knowledge is tantamount to software; and critical thinking skills are the cash value in most practical circumstances.

Intellect approximates to IQ (intelligence quotient) and is relatively fixed by early adulthood. Knowledge, on the other hand, is a mutable domain that is namely distinguished between information (data retention) and understanding.  The former serving a utility during trivia games, computations, or cramming for a test, while the latter is, uncontroversially, the area of interest for most. Physicist David Deutsch has expounded upon the corollary between understanding knowledge and explanatory ability; in which one's explanatory ability is the direct line to the degree to which he or she understands something. 

The mode by which one's intellect, coupled with their understanding knowledge, is put into practice (i.e. through verbal or written explanation) is manifest via critical thinking. 

A couple podcasts of mine pertaining to this subject:

Critical Thinking- Why

Critical Thinking- How

Oxford Dictionary defines critical thinking as: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement

From this, we may further consider the definitions of the key words that compose the definition:

  • objective- not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts
  • analysis- detailed examination of the elements or structure of something
  • evaluation- the making of a judgement about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment
  • judgement- the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions

It's also worth defining 'thinking'- the process of considering or reasoning about something

  • At the dawn of the creation of http://globalsportconepts.net , in 2013, I was taking notes on a thermodynamics class hosted by MIT's open courseware, and the professor, whose name I apologetically have forgotten, started off by explaining how learning the definitions associated with thermodynamics gets one about halfway there regarding understanding thermodynamics as a whole.  This concept resonated strongly with me and I since took seriously the process of looking up definitions of words. I should note that this pertained not only to new words that I would add to my vocabulary, but words that were/are already part of my vocabulary. This is because, upon further thinking about many of the words we use in dialogue, I realize how unconvinced I was that we fully understand their definitions. As indicated, information and understanding knowledge are to be distinguished from one another; yet they needn't be polarized from one another. As, to know well enough how to use a word in a sentence is achievable short of understanding any subtleties of its definition compared to other words with similar definitions; while the deeper the knowledge one has both in terms of information retention AND understanding, the more capable he/she is in their mode of problem solving . Alas, I digress, as the significance of learning the definitions associated with critical thinking (and engaging in the associated practices) are, in and of themselves, a viable mode of improving one's critical thinking skills. 

Vital to point out is the self-discovery necessary within each individual that is required in order to determine the most effective process of developing one's own critical thinking skills. 

Using myself as an example, I realized early on that I was drawn to both analytical as well as synthetic modes of thinking, who was strongly drawn to becoming a polymath:


  • German (used to be able to read, write, speak, however this has slipped due to nonuse)
  • Spanish (conversational in the conversational basics, reading, and writing)
  • Portuguese (conversational in the conversational basics, reading, and writing)
  • Russian (learned to read Cyrillic in an afternoon in 2013, continue to plug away at vocabulary)


  • Drawing/sketching
  • Caricature, Figure Drawing, Gesture Drawing, Sketch


  • Jazz guitar (BA, Cum Laude, Berklee College of Music as a Performance Major)
  • some piano, some trumpet

Areas of Research/Self-Learning/Self-Study

  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • NeuroPsychology/Neuropsychiatry/Neuroscience
  • Dynamics/Biomechanics/Neuromechanics
  • Physiology
  • Epistemology/Cognitive Science

*Due to their foundational role in critical thinking, I have personally found immense value in studying physics and mathematics

Professional Consulting Skills

  • The process of the research that amounted to the completion of "The Governing Dynamics of Coaching" evolved into facets of what I do as a consultant. The Governing Dynamics of Coaching, themselves, are representative of the polymaths that coaches, according to my argument, must become; in which deep knowledge must be developed as it regards:
  • Cultural Establishment
  • Analytical/Intellectual Advancement
  • Psychological Preparation
  • Technical/Tactical/Sensorimotor Development
  • Bioenergetic/Biodynamic/Biomotor  Foundations
  • Active Physiotherapeutic Typology/Integration
  • Sport Preparatory Engineering
  • Global Load Management

While this partly elucidates on the process of advancing my own polymath and critical thinking skills, it is essential that any reader consider, and perform any necessary/associated self-discovery, what end of the analytical-synthetic thinking spectrum you reside at and, as a result, what modes of intellectual stimulation resonate most strongly within you.

The strategic preparation for sport is an exercise in critical thinking as:

  • Culture is the bedrock from which all knew knowledge emerges and the set of ideas that influences all thought and behavior
  • Criticism and conjecture are the only possibilities for knowledge creation
  • Psychological Preparation includes understanding the science of the brain and the development of psychological skills necessary to achieve targeted success independent of all factors outside of one's control
  • Technical/Tactical/Sensorimotor Preparation are the distinguishing tradecraft elements that define the neurophysiological, bioenergetic, biodynamic, and biomotor abilities intrinsic to success in sport and military operations
  • Bioenergetic/Biodynamic/Biomotor Preparation constitute, broadly speaking, the development of energy systems, motions, forces, and motor skill outputs. 
  • Physiotherapeutic Interventions are, namely, the non-surgical therapies and modalities necessary to support the accelerated regeneration and/or rehabilitative return to sport/operations
  • Sport Preparatory Engineering is the engineered blueprint that accounts for all neuromuscular/structural load stress incurred by athletes
  • Global Load Management- the future of head sport coaching/ leadership in which the head individual is truly competent in all relevant fields of influence/preparation 

I have not yet provided a definition for 'critical' itself. As a sensible conclusion to this blog entry I have done so on purpose. 

Oxford dictionary defines critical, in adverb form, (as the word is used in the phrase critical thinking), as:

  • having a decisive and crucial importance in the success, failure, or existence of something.

Allow for something to be the success or failure of your sport organization. In this way, regardless if you are an analytical or synthetic thinker, I suggest to you that it is fundamentally important that you consider advancing your own critical thinking skills, as they relate to any and all of The Governing Dynamics of Coaching





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