The Science of Sport
Welcome to the Science of Sport where we bring you the second, third, and fourthlevel of analysis you will not find anywhere else.
Be it doping in sport, hot topics like Caster Semenya or Oscar Pistorius, or thedehydration myth, we try to translate the science behind sports and sports performance. Consider a donation if you like what you see here!
& Management Part 5:
Early vs Late Specialisation?
02 Feb 2016Posted by Ross
AbstractDacă tinerii ar trebui să se specializeze într-un sport competitiv la o varsta frageda, sau să exercite o gamă mai largă de sporturi in timpul adolescentei este un subiect de o dezbatere (Baker, Cobley, si Fraser-Thomas, 2009) și este fundamental în cadrul politicii de sport si practica de coaching . Scopul acestui studiu a fost de rechemare retrospectiv pentru a identifica dacă specializare devreme sau diversificarea sportive (eșantionare) de-a lungul copilăriei și adolescenței poate influenta niveluri de performanță înainte de maturitate. Un chestionar online a fost folosit pentru a colecta istoriile de participare sport de 1006 Marea Britanie oameni de sport, care au fost apoi comparate cu cadrul de dezvoltare oferit de model de dezvoltare de participare Sport (DMSP, Cote si Fraser-Thomas, 2007). O asociere semnificativă între numărul de sport a participat la la vârsta de 11, 13, și 15 și a fost găsit standard de concurență între 16 și 18 ani. Persoanele care au concurat în trei sporturi cu vârste cuprinse între 11, 13, și 15 au fost semnificativ mai multe sanse de a concura la nivel național, comparativ cu standardul de club cu varste cuprinse intre 16 si 18 ani decat cei care practică un singur sport între. Constatarile raportate aici oferi un suport empiric pentru modelul cale DMSP performanță de eșantionare într-un context Marea Britanie.
Yesterday I posted a video in my Talent ID and management series in which I introduced the concept of the 10,000 hour rule, and I explained how some of the foundational work in that area didn’t account for the possibility that ability drives practice, rather than the other way around, and also how 10,000 is clearly neither necessary, nor sufficient, to attain expert performance.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if it is going to take a person 10,000 hours to reach expert level, then they are probably a “bad investment” in a world where resources are scarce and where competition is so great.
In that video (which you can view below), I mentioned the detrimental implications of a 10,000 hour “dogma” more than once, and this video, Part 5 of the series, discusses one such potential downside.
That is, the preoccupation with logging those 10,000 hours feeds the idea that people must specialise early and be dedicated to a single sport. How, for instance, can a person who takes up football or ice-hockey achieve the required 10,000 hours if they get distracted by other sports, which takes away their training time?
This is an argument, word for word, that I have heard presented at high performance and talent development conferences. Every hour spent on Sport Y is an hour less spent on Sport X.
But what does the research say? What does common sense say? We know a fair amount about specialisation vs sampling/diversification, and this video is my attempt to explain some of those concepts to you.
Below you can view Part 5: Specialisation, and immediately below that, is Part 4 on the 10,000 hour dogma, because the two are, as you will hopefully recognise, closely linked.
Enjoy, and remember to share, and I’ll be back soon with Part 6, tackling the Relative Age Effect.
Thanks for watching. Here are the posts from Parts 1 to 4 of the series!
1/ Talent ID Video series: #1 – fundamental concept and definition
06 Jan 2016Posted by Ross
Hello everyone, and happy new year! I hope that whatever your profession or goals, you will have a successful, high-performing and victorious year!
I’m kicking off the year with the first part of my Talent ID series, which Iintroduced to you from London in December. I’m doing this as a video series, because it’s much faster for me, and because I hope that the combination of my voice-over and the slides that I have prepared to give at a few conferences is a more dynamic and engaging way of presenting the subject. A few of you asked me to rather write these posts, and I wish I had the time (and energy), but I hope this is a suitable compromise.
Today is part 1, which covers the fundamental concepts of Talent Identification and Management, and defines Talent ID & development in a strategic and tactical sense. It also outlines the concepts that I’ll be discussing as we proceed, rather than talking about the specific content of Talent ID, which I leave to those far more qualified than I!
The video comes first, and the original presentation, in its entirety is below that, so you can see where we are headed. As I said in the introductory post, this is a fascinating topic, one that I really love, because it marries the strategic, tactical and operational aspects of sport, and it’s very real – whether you are a parent, teacher, young athlete, old athlete, coach, HP manager, or even a business person who is looking for “talent” in the workplace, there are concepts here that are fascinating and powerful. So if anyone happens to read this, and would like further engagement and discussion on it, please don’t hesitate to contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy part 1!
2/ Talent ID & Management Series, Part 2: Accepted inefficiencies
19 Jan 2016Posted by Ross
Welcome to Part 2 of the Talent ID & Management series. As you may recall from Part 1, I am talking you through a presentation I have given to English FA and English Rugby in recent months, on the subject of Talent ID and development.
Part 1, from two weeks ago, defined Talent ID as a budgeting decision aimed at directing the use of scarce resources to athletes who are most likely to produce our desired end-goal, performance.
Keeping that theme going, today’s section of the presentation tackles the “bets” we make when we invest in young sportspeople, and how those bets are inherently inefficient because we lack the tools to measure performance, to predict future performance, and to control “real life” that sometimes gets in the way.
Understanding this inefficiency, and the factors driving it, is key to figuring out how best to improve it, and how, in some instances, to use inefficiencies in one area for advantages in others. That’s where we are headed, but for today, please enjoy a section specific on the inefficiencies!
As before, the YouTube comes first, and you can see the entire Prezi below it.
3/Talent ID & Management Part 3: Imperfect tools & sensible science
26 Jan 2016Posted by Ross
Here is part 3 of my ongoing Talent ID and management series. If you missed the first two instalments, you can view them at the following links:
Today I discuss what I think is an important concept in terms of managing expectations around how talent can be identified, and performance predicted. It deals with the precision and resolution of the tools we have at our disposal.
It’s important because our ability to identify a given young player as talented (having potential) is limited by those tools. We want to put a young player through a test battery, in addition to our subjective evaluation of their ability, in order to make that budgeting decision that drives resource allocation.
But these tests do not have the kind of resolution that people seem to expect of them. That is, they cannot identify with any certainty who will succeed, and who will fail. Our reluctance or inability to recognise this has lead to a ‘scorched earth’ attitude towards talent, where examples of players who are “missed” or misjudged by a system and its scouts are held up as proof that talent either does not exist or is over-rated (Tom Brady is the most common of these, Steph Curry recently did the rounds too). Therefore, because we do not have 20/20 vision when it comes to predicting a performance future, we choose blindness.
This video is an attempt to address that imbalance.
First, we can hopefully agree that tools for Talent ID can be imperfect without being worthless. It need not be all or nothing, 20/20 or blindness.
Second, you must appreciate that the higher up the pathway you move, and the more elite your group of viable athletes, the less precise your ability to measure potential becomes. Why? Because in a truly elite group, made up of say, the top 1% of all athletes playing a sport, the difference between #1 and #200 is absolutely tiny. Minuscule.
So, there is no test, no measurement, no physiological battery, that will be able to tell those players apart because they are so close together that their sporting future is determined by innumerable factors that cannot be measured.
It’s different when you compare me to a top level college player in the USA, or a rugby player in an Academy team in the UK. I’m not even in the conversation, and pretty much any test, tool or measurement will tell you that. The gap is large enough that the resolution of those tests, however poor, is sufficient for its purpose. But when you start looking for differences between players in the top 1%, then it isn’t, and things that can’t be measured start to influence performance. This includes the favourite rallying cry of the talent deniers, hard work. Nobody ever suggested that hard work and smart training would not matter.
That is why Tom Brady, who clearly had SOME ability (he was offered a baseball contract straight out of high school, so his throwing ability was recognised very early), can succeed despite being the 199th pick, while others who are in the top 10 picks may ‘fail’. It’s why Jaime Vardy of Leicester can go from playing non-league football to setting topflight records – he was at 99% already.
The tools didn’t fail, and nor did the concept of talent. It’s more a reflection of the subjective nature of Talent ID, the relative imprecision of the tools, and the enormous complexity of providing the optimal environment for a player. If you can appreciate this, then you are in a good position to capitalise on all those ‘undiscovered’ gems who actually have been discovered, but just not polished enough.
There’s a gold-mine out there, and good talent systems unearth them. Your job, as a coach, a parent, a sports scientist, is to make sure you don’t lose sight of them because you’re stuck on the 0.0001% that are obvious.
Your best bet then, in terms of screening for talent and measuring performance, is to:
a) Make sure that you focus on trajectory rather than current ability. That is, make the movie, rather than taking the still photograph, and;
b) Apply tools and measurement for different purposes at different stages of the pathway. Your goal is to make sure that the top 5% are kept viable, which means getting them through each step of the pathway. In Tom Brady’s and Steph Curry’s case, this means exposing them at high school, and making sure they are picked into the US-college system.
Once there, competition and continued exposure will reveal who makes the next step, into the top 1% (entering the draft and being selected, even if it is 199th). And then, it is up to competition and ‘intangibles’ to make the top 0.01%.
So be mindful, and use common sense! I’m not writing an essay though, the video below is long enough, so enjoy, and see you for Part 4 soon!
4/Talent ID & Management: The 10,000 hour “rule” and talent
01 Feb 2016Posted by Ross
Welcome back to my ongoing video series on talent ID and management.
Today is Part 4, but you can get up to speed with the previous instalments at the following links:
Today I shift focus and take on one of the more widely debated issues around Talent ID, the 10,000 hour rule.
Three books popularised this notion that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, and that success can’t happen without it. The initial work was done on violinists, but it’s been applied to all manner of expertise, even though the vast majority of the work says that it does NOT take this long to become world class.
In fact, if we work off my strategic and tactical definition of Talent ID (a budgeting function that directs the allocation of scarce resources towards those with the greatest likelihood of success), then the 10,000 hour concept is actually detrimental, because it forces inefficient thinking on decision makers. I’d go so far as to say that an athlete who requires 10,000 hours to become world-class is a drain on the system.
In the video below, I introduce you to the false dichotomy that was created between talent and training, and how these books falsely scorched the notion of talent in the name of encouraging people and offering them hope. That’s never a bad thing, of course, but it became counter-productive, for reasons that I’ll explain as we proceed.
I also critique the original violin study, and offer up examples who disprove the rule, and share my thoughts on where the message got distorted (deliberately or otherwise).
Next time, I’ll take the logical step and show some examples and research of how elite athletes actually do become elite, and why the 10,000 rule is actually detrimental.
Jurnalul de Stiinte Sport