“It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ.”
The above quote appears in ‘Think Like a Freak’, the third in the series of books written by economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner. I have written about them several times before. The basic premise of their books is to use data (mostly economic data) in interesting ways to answer or, just as importantly, ask questions about society and the humans that inhabit it. This book in particular is extremely applicable to coaching as it focuses many of its stories on how humans (and players and coaches are humans) actually respond in the real world. You may not think this is a big deal, but when you read the book you understand how much of what we think should and expect to happen actually does not. For example…
Studies have shown that athletes can be tricked into improving their performance. In one study cyclists performed a maximum 4000m time trial. Later they repeated the same time trial while watching a video of themselves doing the previous tests. When the video was sped up, the cyclists were still able to match the performance of their video images. They were going faster than they had previously thought they could.
Dubner and Levitt go on to say that while many of the barriers we face are real, many are simply expectations. By challenging or changing expectations, we can improve performance. Just as Roger Bannister had changed that expectations of all middle distance runners, so can every coach improve performance not by increasing the technical or tactical level of his team, but by increasing the expectations
Just a thought.
The collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.
Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.