Vern Gambetta’s blog post was very important, but without suggestions it could be viewed as critical without constructive solutions. Nearly anything can get measured, but the real key aspects are what can be improved from getting good information. I don’t measure everything because I care about Key Performance Indicators, not just random numbers. Unfortunately many don’t measure anything because comparison is frightening. One stands very naked in the 100m as it’s so clear who won, but how good someone really is historically and currently. I propose a balance between Moneyball and the human side of coaching, essential measurement.
Many times the glory of coaching is moving a few hurdles, picking up glass on the grass infield, or figuring out how to get a team checked in at a hotel that is overbooked. We understand that coaching is a people business, but it doesn’t give us permission not to be good sport scientists. Between the lab coats and bros is the coach, who knows the reality of working with athletes and the need to have some sort of system based on applied sport science. Often I hear that some sort of measurement is not valid, such as vertical jump or 30m fly. I usually respond with what should I look at objectively and usually get crickets chirping instead of something real. It’s easy to get lost into the comfort that nothing can measured perfectly, but gross changes in performance measures give you a fighting chance. When someone says 40 yard dashes don’t matter I agree that a limit exists to that test, but perhaps 10m bursts are better and I would rather have more general speed than less.
The answer probability or what is likely. It does not have to be perfect but it has to be realistic. The reason I push the moneyball side so much as we have a problem with accountability and honesty in the profession of strength and conditioning and even track and field a bit. Track is very objective, but the randomness of wind, the chaos of student lifestyles, and the wonderful reality that sometimes good and bad luck may be at fault. Coaches can sometimes win the talent lottery and look like a genius one year but are fired the next when entire teams stink at conference. We would rather hope that the GS circuit gave us a growth hormone spike did magic instead of the fact it most likely rested the athlete between speed sessions or the athlete is talented. I now appreciate the scarcity of talent as I don’t think I will get a random kid from the Boston area coming in at 10 low looking to dip into 9.7 range, but I will help guys get down to 10.x if they come above 11 seconds.