There are two things I love to do outside of coaching; cooking and building with wood. Now the cooking I can handle my own, the wood working is something of a work in progress. So over the time at home, I have watched a fair share of cooking shows and have begun to rather enjoy the HGTV show Home Town. Home Town is an American television series starring husband and wife team, Ben and Erin Napier that premiered on January 24, 2016 on HGTV. The married couple restores Southern homes in Laurel, Mississippi.
They take their talents to renovate old homes and take something that to most, should be torn down and make it into something spectacular, many times not even recognizing the old structure existed. With these older homes, they really see the cosmetics of the house, but it is not until demo day that they see what lies underneath. As hidden problems arise, there is no panic, but an assessment and plan to address the situation within the budget or constraints that they are faced with. For the most part, Erin works on the design and decorating while Ben works on the structure. Ben’s role is to set a strong foundation and structure to which Erin adds the final touches and together they create a collaborative approach to renovation project.
This got me thinking about the structure of athlete development based around a recent article review. The article was investigating the improvement of sport performance in response to a change in physiological lab measures. The reviewer questioned the relevance in the mode of exercise to the sport specific exercise. I then began to think about the renovation process. Much as in a renovation where you have the general contractor and the designer, you have the sport scientist (general contractor) and the coach (designer). When we begin with a new athlete we see the outside cosmetics (looks fit, can move okay etc.) but it is not until we have the assessment where we see the underlying issues (restricted movement, fitness etc.). It is at that time the contractor must begin to create a structurally sound plan so that the designer can complete their job.
And here I get back to the relevance in the mode of exercise to the sport specific exercise. This is my personal opinion, but as the sport scientist in the daily training environment, we can all benefit from taking a step back, and slow the process down. The first step in the testing process is not to connect the dots of “my training plan in the weight room or on the bike did X and the performance was Y therefore my program had a direct impact on the performance.” There are so many factors that can account for an improvement or decline in performance we can be missing the picture.
As the contractor, your job is to have a strong foundation. If you create X program, the physiological testing is in place to ensure your program had the intended effect. With a sound foundation, the coach (designer) can then finalize the project (sport specific training). Yes, therefore there is an indirect effect that the sport science program has on the performance, but as young sport scientists, too often we try to answer the grand question instead of the simple ones that are before of us. Entry and exist testing first off must determine if the program you wrote had the intended effect. Then, when you have that confirmed, can you begin to look at the effect it had on performance, but answer the simple questions before tackling the larger. Make a collaborative and sound assessment, program. Test said program for its effect. Create a structurally and physiologically tolerate athlete for the coach. Help to set a strong foundation and structure to which the coach adds the final touches and together create a collaborative approach to “renovation” project.
And with that I am off to the garage to continue with a new wood project.