Formula for Failure


This post was written by a friend in reaction to what he has been in a particular event in a particular sport where American results are terrible. This really could be written about many sports. Enjoy it!

This is based on a true story, but the sport and the names have been hidden to protect the innocent.

Once upon a time, there was a young athlete in an individual sport, trying his best to excel. He kept making an error though, which held him back. Not understanding what was actually happening, he made a change in his approach that appeared to solve his particular problem.

Because this change worked for him, he decided to write an article on this and it became popular in the US…but not in Europe. In fact, thousands of words were later written on this change…and for most US coaches, hey, this is the gospel. It is the gospel called “hearsay”.

Even before this athlete made this personal adjustment in technique, biomechanists were studying the event, frame by frame. They used force plates, fancy cameras, super software programs, and they came to a conclusion the young athlete couldn’t understand. The science showed that whatever the young athlete did was sort of an aberration. “Here, look at all of these elite athletes. The pattern clearly shows that doing exactly the opposite of what you did, will produce WR results.” Funny…you know that the biomechanists were right! They came from various countries, but their studies all agree. In the US, maybe because of funding, no biomechanists commented on this particular move.

I can tell you…the sport wasn’t golf or tennis, because you readers would all know there are tons written on those sports.

Meanwhile, WR’s were set by non-Americans, Olympics were won…and, the Americans had mustard on their shirts, not medals. (The Americans didn’t make the finals, so they ate hot dogs instead!) Wouldn’t you think, boys and girls, that the American coaches would start to think: HEY, maybe this move we do only in the US is WRONG!! You would think. Sadly, the situation is that most of the coaches believe the hearsay, rather than the science.

The moral of the story is this: do your homework. Go to the top experts in your field, even if they are overseas! Look for references to back up statements. Or, boys and girls, you will be like those American coaches, in this one event, who don’t know their a_ _ from their elbow.

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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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