Design Coaching


Everything old is new again. Every time I have done anything or talked to anyone in the last two weeks, no matter what the field, it seems this statement comes up. The past eighteen months I have been focusing my reading and research on design and innovation. The more I read about design and innovation the truer the statement everything old is new again becomes. Obviously to innovate you have to start some where. It seems that for those who are most innovative the best place to start is on a path that someone else has traveled. Innovation demands a blurring of the boundaries between sports and various disciplines that contribute to sport performance. Here is the announcement of a new class at the Stanford University Design School that reinforces that idea: "Immersive experiences in innovation and design thinking, blurring the boundaries between technology, business, and human values. Explore the tenants of design thinking including being human-centered, prototype driven, and mindful of process in everything you do." This really resonated with me, especially the last part. Coaching is human centered, it is prototype driven, we are always prototyping, and it is a very mindful process. This is what coaching really should be.

Bob Sutton (, a professor at Stanford wrote the following in his blog:

During the years that Andy Hargadon and I worked together on innovation research, we reached the conclusion that all, or a least nearly all, creativity happens when people do new things with old things, either bringing old ideas to new places or creating new combinations of old things. This is the main point of the second chapter of Weird Ideas That Work, where I show that everything from the invention of Play-Doh to the solution to Fermat's last theorem reflect this process of doing new things with old things. Andy I did some early work on "knowledge brokering" or "technology brokering," on how organizations can routinely accomplish innovation by importing, exporting, and mixing together ideas. Some of these ideas are in our 2000 Harvard Business Review article on "Building an Innovation Factory." But the most complete — and I believe the best — treatment is in Andy's book on How Breakthroughs Happen.

Creativity happens when you look at the same thing as everyone else but see something different, and this method of taking an idea from one place, modifying for another place, and then bringing it back again strikes me as wonderful method to help people to keep seeing the same old thing in a new light. In short, if people borrow the ideas from your company or group, and then succeed with them (assuming they have violated no laws), don't get mad at them, try to figure out how they've changed them and steal the version back if it can help you!

Design thinking offers the coaching profession a fresh look at old ideas and the ability to take those ideas and innovate.

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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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