Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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Exploring sport coaching and psychology

1 Where next in coaching and exercise?

Gazing into the future can be fascinating and can be used to help identify some of the main themes that are starting to influence coaching and instructional practice today. Throughout this session, you will consider how much of what you see or read is verifiable with evidence.

Activity 1 What sporting future?

Allow about 15 minutes

Watch the following video [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , in which Michael Johnson hears from sporting professionals on what they think the future of sport holds. Can you identify three to five overall themes that are shaping the future of sport? To give an example, one of the themes is clearly about technological developments.

Download this video clip.
Skip transcript: What sporting future: risks and rewards

Transcript: What sporting future: risks and rewards

[MUSIC PLAYING]

MICHAEL JOHNSON
Andy, you've been involved in sport for a very long time. Is this time over, say, the last 50 years or so-- are we seeing right now the most advancement in sport performance and what athletes are actually capable of?
ANDY WALSHE
Yeah. That's a great question. I think in the last 5, 10 years-- last 5 years, really-- the technology revolution has just come, like in every aspect of life. And I think right now, this is a point where we can understand things in ways we've never been able to before.
So in terms of where we're heading, the future is wide open. I think we're going to see advancements in the next 10, 20 years that make the last 100 look sort of insignificant. What that translates to in terms of actual faster running, lifting more, things like that, is still to be determined.
But I think as I look at it, if a scale of 1 to 10, we're probably a 1 out of 10 in terms of our understanding of really what it takes to perform at the top. One's good. It helps. But I think there's so much more we're going to learn in the next few years and that's really the beauty of this time. We're going to start to get answers to things and discover things and even learn new things that I think that are going to shed light on how we can help people really get to the top of their game.
DAVE BRAILSFORD
I think we're going to get faster. I honestly believe that. I think we have done for all of the time to this point. I can't see why it's going to stop now. So I think we will definitely get higher, faster, stronger.
It's diminishing returns. We're going to work harder and the rate of progression potential will get slower. But I think there's some super work being done about what are the limits.
I'm particularly interested, we're all interested, in limits and certainly in nutrition. And I think there are still gains to be made and then truly understanding some of the nutritional interventions, for us, which fuelling systems and substrates are being used when and how and can we optimise that? Can we manipulate it a little bit? Can we change it?
And there's a lot of work still to be done in that area. So personally, I think there's a knowledge and an education and research and science, that's all feeding into that. So I can't see why it's going to slow down.
DAVID EPSTEIN
As competitive as sports are, I think there are still large populations in the world that really don't have any access to the sports or to the kind of training that they would need to be successful. And so I think we're going to continue to discover groups of people that have the potential for great performances.
I think a lot of what we're learning about genetics is some of what we learned in sports genetics is what we learned in medical genetics, which is people are set up in different ways to respond better to certain types of training, muscular training, aerobic training, and that what you see on day one isn't always the talents you're really looking at. And I think as we realise more that trainability is part of the most important talent, it'll change the way people are recruited and tested I think.
ANDY WALSHE
And ultimately, I think of performance as being a conversation, the cognition, the body, the spirituality, the creativity, the physicality. That is, I think, really untapped. And that whole combination, we may, because we've been training the 100 since a couple of thousand years, we may be sort of limiting out and that curve is slowing.
But in other areas of overall total function and human function, I think we're still on this trajectory up. And then we get into this idea that things will start to be augmented. Bodies will start to be assisted a bit by machines. And so we're starting to get this whole conversation of really how the human evolves and develops in contrast to the technology.
In the last Olympics, Oscar and his prosthetics really was a window into where the world could diverge. And ultimately, if an individual has a bionic set of limbs that outperform the human limb, in athletics, yes, there's probably a rule that says he shouldn't or she shouldn't be in the event. But outside of that, there are other communities interested in performance which don't have those rules. So then I think you're going to start to see interesting integrations of augmented components of humanity.
MICHAEL JOHNSON
I'm both excited and somewhat concerned about what science will do to sport. I see what it's doing to society and it's a double-edged sword. There are great things that we're able to benefit from technology as a society. At the same time, it creates a new set of problems that we have to then address and deal with and create solutions for.
And I think the same thing will have to happen in sport. I think that governing bodies will have to start to prepare for what is to come with technology and science and how it affects performance and how it affects sport because at the end of the day, personally, I want to see sport always remain fair and balanced for everyone and not turn into something that's unfamiliar to a sports fan.
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Discussion

Contributors talked about the impact of the ‘technological revolution’ on sport, which includes the development of prosthetic devices. The timescale of these technological advances was quoted as being since about 2010. Another speaker claimed that our understanding of how the body works and, in particular, nutrition and the muscular fuelling systems, will lead to future improvements in performance. Perhaps a less tangible leap forward was suggested to be in the increased knowledge of cognition (mental actions and processes), including human ‘spirit’ and creativity.

Further advances are likely, as a result of worldwide access to sport being broadened; it was claimed that groups of the world’s population may be discovered that have a genetic predisposition to respond to training extremely well and therefore have sporting potential (termed ‘trainability’). The caveat to these possible developments was that governing organisations in sport need to keep up with such progress in order to maintain fair, balanced competition. Also, notice how it is useful to frame most of these developments as ‘claims’ at this stage, until the evidence of their impacts become clear.

In summary we can say that technological innovation in sport and exercise will a) increase human performance and b) increase the ability to monitor the working of the body and/or mind.

If you want to understand more about a very real example of technological augmentation, you may want to read this article about a Paralympic long jumper, Should ‘Blade Jumper’ Markus Rehm be allowed in the Olympics?

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