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Talking Tactically

September 2006 SPORTS SCIENCE: A diet of value (column 195)

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Lachlan Tighe…..Talking tactically
Weekly coaching column

(column 195, September 2006 a view on bowls coaching)
Sports science: a diet of value

The problem with sports science, especially as it forges itself into bowls to a reasonably ignorant population, is that coaches have ‘employed’ it without due knowledge and value. And I say that having worked in the field in both tertiary education, coach education and elite and sport since 1979.

The problem is coaches lack the confidence and conviction, more so with this wariness for the jargon surrounding high performance, to dictate what they want as coaches.

To address the problem our sport (hierarchy) need to conduct courses to practically demonstrate the roles of the sport scientists and the merit of the coach working in conjunction with these practitioners.

And to add value to the course attendance, the coach’s doing the courses should be able to attend practical programs where the elite coach show how he/ she works with the sport scientist.

I struggle to comprehend how slow our sport is in providing these services at various association levels. I say that because here within Australia we have numerous coaching committees and boards so the structure is certainly evident. And now we have seen a flurry of activity re Games 2006 for elite players.

Montmorency club had an informative young sports scientist convey good information with regard to three aspects – breathing, visualization, physical exercise. Good stuff but maybe classroom stuff. My mate attending with me said ‘…Lach, we don’t do enough of this in training’ ; next day I demonstrated that we do plenty of all three aspects in the sessions on the green but I use everyday language to get the message across.

That’s where we do the real learning of the sports science, where the players apply it on the green.

We are leaving the gap between skills of coaches and players even further than pre Games 2006. What I am proposing to one association I am working with is that the expenses be paid for a few specific coaches to attend national events to observe and appraise the game plans and tactical merit of certain squad players. That is as good a away possible to have on site coaching courses.

Statistics are great and valued by sports scientists and coaches. Excessive statistics are not necessary to evaluate the value of a player. Statistics measure quantity, I seek quality reinforced by quantity. Again we are so far back in dim ages with our training and preparation of game plans and games analysis despite a move to High Performance.

When I refer to diet above I urge us keen on our bowls development to ‘eat up’ the best approaches we can borrow from other sports.

Mental skill work as a facet of sports science is another thing altogether. A good practitioner can do wonders with some / many / all your team players.

Apparently the Australian squad training at Barham a few weeks were advised to copy the Malaysian approach to positive communication skill. Pity they didn’t ask me for input because as I do with our Victorian state teams I train them awareness of the positive and negative language as witnessed at trials. It is a learned skill, or in the case of many a de-learning of previous practices.

A good science practitioner gets ‘down to bowls business’. They can encourage players to ‘go with the flow’. Some of the younger science practitioners are a bit too formally academic without due sports practice experience. And in elite bowls I feel that is not a best fit.

The mental trainer, as Malaysia refers to these practitioners, can provide both the coach and the player with the tools. And you can develop the coach’s knowledge and generalist (mental training) skills to ensure that the player has on going support service..

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