Thursday, April 14, 2011

Random thoughts and links

For anyone interested into expert (elite athletes) development, I highly suggest checking out the following articles (this is a series of articles, but only two parts at the moment):

This series brings some more oil into the fire of early specialization vs. early diversification viewpoints and tries to explain researched phenomena in CGS (centimeter, gram, second) sports utilizing motivational/psychological and talent/physiological point of view. Make sure to read the comment sections too.  Yes, you have guessed correctly – it is complementarity between the two.

I have also come across to Vern Gambetta’s video this morning about game speed.

While I am waiting for The Switch and Made to Stick books, I accidentally found great short series of videos on YouTube. 
The first video is a summary of the book Drive by Daniel Pink. Pink is doing a fine job explaining why extrinsic motivation is not enough, and why we need to address intrinsic motivation. 

It is not enough to manipulate athletes with carrots and sticks like Pavlov did with his damn dogs and B.F. Skinner did with his pigeons (I am very thankful for their mechanical point of view [sarcastic] ), but is also important to manipulate the environment that brings up (emerge?) certain behavior via instric motivation, and autonomy, complexity and purpose of the task. 

This goes pretty well with complex system theory, and the importance of expanding our interest from the athletes themselves (their traits, characteristics, etc) to the environment that brought them that way, both in longer-term (LTAD) and short term (team culture). 

There is a fine video by Kristoffer Henriksen on importance of researching environment that brought up certain the experts, not just their traits, eye colors, genes or whatever. It is also important to develop certain team culture, or team spirit that will allow expert development while providing autonomy, complexity and purpose in and over the task with purposeful (deliberate) practice. As my head coach use to say, a lot of coaches and athlete are training with the form on mind. They all fulfill the ’form’ of the training. But what really makes a difference is the ’substance’. Details. And the devil is in details. What is important from coaching standpoint is to develop a certain team ambient that allows (affords) purposeful practice and Growth Mindset in the athletes.

Another video worth checking (btw, check all the videos from RSAnimate) is on communication by Steven Pinker. Maybe you will find something interesting in it applicable to sport situations. 

The next video by Jeremy Rifkin, along with work by Richard Dawkins  (Selfish Gene) and work by Robert Sapolsky (Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers) made me think are the humans really competitive in their nature or are we (culture) making them that way. This goes again into the importance of building up team culture that allows empathy within the team. 

Well, as you might have seen, I am more into psychology and problems of coaching lately while I put a hold on the ‘periodization’ and what have you. The point behind this is that I am more interested into ‘what is making the difference’ , and in my opinion it is not new supplement, new gadget, complex planning and programming, but rather the development of  the team spirit and mindset that allows the purposeful practice (and stable-consistent performance) for working on the basics and important fundamentals over and over again (while the others hit it the on occasion) and fine-tuning the details, day in and day out.  

Anyway, I am planning to write one ‘addendum’ to soccer series and sport form, with the special reference to in-season training. Hopefully, I will find time and writing mojo for it.

Till next time... stop for a minute and smile :)

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