It’s Still Just A Number

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In many ways the rush to gather numbers in the guise of monitoring and measuring training and competition fascinates me but I have many questions. Is this a fad that will pass? It certainly has created many jobs and a big buzz in the media, but what does it all mean? 45 years into this journey I have to say I am a bit skeptical of some of what I see. Too many profound inferences and conclusions are being made from measures that are artificial at best. In the rush to jump on the bandwagon very few people are asking hard questions. 90% of what I see with GPS is really no better than fancy pedometer data. Numbers need context. Numbers are one dimensional, human performance is multidimensional. We must focus on the human element, the athlete; they are not integers in an equation. There is still no substitute for a well-trained “coaching eye” who knows their athlete. The coach is the person who makes the data meaningful, not someone labeled a sport scientist because they can sit in front of a computer screen and crunch numbers. The coach can provide the context, the critical thinking skills and the knowledge of the sport that is ESSENTIAL. The coach is the captain of the performance team; ultimately it is the coach’s job to get the athlete to perform. Let’s be careful we are not marginalizing the coach in this process. Let’s all be sure that the numbers we gather are meaningful and actionable. Just gathering random numbers does no one any good.

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