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The nuances of developing multiple champions

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

The last series of articles are to help the average age group triathlete find practical solutions to techniques that are difficult for them to acquire later in life. They haven't had the benefit of learning these skills when either a child or going through puberty, when the neural pathways are so much more receptive to physical learning.

This to me seems a quite obvious concept to grasp.

However it is always inevitable that I receive the usual pushback from the classically university trained 'animal' that has spent between 4 and 7 years studying (depending on Masters / PhDs etc). I say animal, not to be derogatory, but so those that live in the world of reality, logic and common sense don't let a few letters after someones name con you into thinking these people are experts, as nothing could be further than the truth.

While studying they sat in rooms, consuming huge volumes of data of what fellow students (now graduated) had researched and recorded, of the best athletes in the world. Structured and labeled in a way that one must agree with, to graduate. If you have a differing opinion it is a fail. Their field work, is being allowed to test their ideas on physical education classes, to partake in research / blind studies, maybe up to 3 times per year. Most universities would advertise through their faculty for usually 12 to 20 students to take part in a study. On occasion, the forward thinking Uni would advertise for athletes who are competent in the specific sport they were researching.

I've been part of many research studies, where most times the very best swimmers or runners can't be attained as test subjects, as they don't want to upset their personal training routines. So most studies end up with above average age group athletes who are hoping that by participating in the planned tests they might learn something about themselves that could elevate them to the level of 'real' performance.

Most exciting for the students is they may themselves be taken to an institute of sport science department where the best train. There they can observe, put on white coats, take blood, measure heart rates, record levels of stretching ability and weights lifted in gym sessions. This may happen every day for a week or two, or conversely one or two days for final year students over three months. After this 'intense' practical side of their work, they are back in the class room for 3 more months of intense revision of the written text, so they can be ready for the examinations. Once passed then these animals are certified experts, and then let loose on you, the paying public.

Once they have gained enough confidence, they might build a business with your money, or join the establishment to train the next bunch of students of all they have learned about the science of an athlete. They believe they have the credibility to try and lecture the 'uneducated' class of coach, who was not 'fortunate' enough to receive the indoctrination they were afforded.

Their criticisms generally appear in three forms:

Where is your data to prove your theories? One such as me provides my results. You are finished in today's world, as you are an authoritarian coach! Really? Show me one army in the world that does not run on orders. Or have a leader that dictates policy? Why, because we are talking performance. At my training group it's about learning to be better. There is too much 'nuance' in your information. It meanders. It is all about subtleties, variations. Every topic has shade. Nothing is in concrete. For us (vigorously trained in the data) it is shallow! This makes me ask - 'isn't it the data preoccupied that are indeed shallow as the proverbal puddle'? Their cloistered education, with minuscule real life on deck experience, failure to be taught about the fragile nature of the human being - the inability of some to learn certain techniques in a certain way, that every athlete is and should be treated as an individual, each having different body shapes, recovery levels and nutritional needs. What teaches you these things? On deck experience! Dealing with people and their problems allows one to understand that what looks like it works on the blackboard, or in a class room, is very very different in the real world. Arhhh the coach is very frustrated? Yes very, to see people talking total garbage, with thousands of followers on social media, who read advice that will make sure they will never improve. Or a pro-athlete, who has neither any practical experience dealing with people or the rudimentary education of the 'experts', giving a dissipation of what they know about the sport. While enviably, it boils down to 'what worked for them'! It is very very frustrating indeed! Be very aware of the limitations these 'experts' have. Be very aware of the ex pro-athletes who need a new gig, but want to still swim bike and run each day, but now without any fire. To those who pay trivial acknowledgment to the huge body of performances our group has realised, and to the real expertise that brings, there is nothing nuance about that data, just plain fact! But here is another way to look at it. Find me a coach, not just in triathlon but any sport, who has been on deck 4+ hours a day, twice a day for 46 years. Working with groups of real pro athletes (i.e. who win) developed mostly from scratch. While also helping age group athletes who struggle to learn new skills? The research, the experiments, the highs, the lows have all been done. The amount of research done in the labs of the universities just pales into insignificance. I'm being lectured to by what is in reality new born babies, that while they breath, have yet to take their first steps in the real world. The very nature of our success at Trisutto is the ability to know that if one is not attuned to coaching with nuance, you are not a coach at all, just merely a robot locked into a dogma, that will only work for the absurdly talented. I hope my coaches will never be that well educated.

Read the last three blogs over again. And again. I assure you, all will improve. That is what it should be all about, and it is here with me. Do you really want to swim faster? Do you really want to ride faster? Do you want a faster Ironman run split?

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