Just finished reading an outstanding coaching book- Four Champions One Gold Medal: The true story of four swimmers who battled for the same Olympic dream by Chuck Warner. Some real insights into what it takes to compete and win at the highest level. You definitely have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable all the time. Also a clear in depth picture of athlete development. This book has some great insights if you read between the lines. Even if you don’t this is a great chronicle of coaching in a different era.
This paragraph struck me as particularly relevant to what I see as a move away from coaching toward more sport science. (We have been there before)
“During the 1980’s many American coaches sought more effective training methods through better utilization of scientific testing. Unfortunately many scientists attempted to provide coaches with new, scientifically-based training methodologies rather than study existing programs, learn why they were successful and help coaches improve them. For many well-intentioned coaches and scientists, this created what Thomas Huxley once called “The tragedy of a single fact killing a theory.” Training programs that were proven from experience, and developed on the basis of a coach’s theory, were often discarded in favor of a program based on a few, or even a single, isolated fact.
Although science has a great deal to contribute to the success of all athletes, including distance swimmers, it must be filtered through the mind of a coach’s theory based on experience. Anyone who has been a swimming coach for five or ten years should be able to begin to draw his own conclusions from science, research and other coaches’ training programs.” (Page 174)
No sport scientist has ever invented a viable technique or training method. As coach’s we must work with the sport scientist and understand sport science, but ultimately we must coach. Three of the four swimmers programs detailed in this book are coach driven and athlete centered, which is the road to success.