S&C Field Craft...don't be without it!
Last year I wrote a blog called Technology Accelerator (click here to review). The point of the article was that in the face of advancing technology, coaches; particularly young and developing coaches, should not forgo development of fundamental skills e.g. use of a stopwatch, in the hope that they will have access to the magical "machine that goes bing" at the next job they go to.
NB: For those too young to know, "The machine that goes bing" is a famous Monty Python skit from the movie the Meaning of Life.
At the time the following comment was logged at OLDBULLFITNESS.com
On the surface the comments were very fair and reasonable. However, the comment can only be considered accurate if we agree with the assumption that everybody has access to the latest and greatest equipment. In the absence of a budget to support the use of said "latest and greatest" equipment the question still remains "how do we quantify training" or at least in this case speed.
Given I do work in a place where I have at my disposal a budget that allows me to get things done, I purchased the equipment noted by the aforementioned comment author and have spent some months testing it against my staff's ability with a stop watch.
Why on earth would I do that you might ask? Good question. Here's why...
1. Always looking for a better way to do things. Now first things first, the system works great. Its only real draw back is that it is limited in how many athletes it can process simultaneously by the number of units you have. That said it leaves timing lights for dead in terms of it's simplicity.
2. Test my coaching skills against a benchmark standard. I stated in the original article that I held myself and my staff to a performance standard with respect to hand timing speed sessions. Over three months of testing, with over 900 individual samples we achieved the following;
Inter-tester reliability ~0.1sec
Intra-tester reliability ~0.05sec
Inter-mode reliability (stop watch vs timing system) ~0.1sec
I didn't do this to prove anybody wrong or to start a pointless social media slanging match. I did it simply to prove to myself that in the absence of technology, my staff and I can still provide a reliable and effective service to my athletes.
I'm not suggesting that hand timing should ever be used in place of sound technology where it is available. What I am suggesting is that not having technology available is no excuse for not operating in a highly repeatable and quantifiable manner.
If there is one thing I pride myself on it is finding a way to get the job done - accurately and predictably! If you want to succeed at the highest level of Strength & Conditioning there are no excuses.
Big jobs afford you a budget and the "machine that goes bing". If I'm being too cryptic I mean timing systems, GPS, linear positioning systems etc etc. The trick is you've got to be good enough in the first place to get the big jobs...and that means developing the skills necessary to do the job in any circumstances.
In recent weeks I have completed three mentoring programs with guys working in low resource environments. Do you think I told them; "Nah you can't run a program like mine because you haven't got the equipment". Quite the opposite. I showed them exactly how to run a benchmark program on a low tech budget. Everything from quantifying training to decoding game trends that define exactly how to train.
There is some great technology on the market, know it and understand it...but don't be consumed by it.
It’s not rocket science to know I am commercially interested in electronic timing, and I find the use of hand timing is like using rocks or random stones and using them without weighing for strength training. True the eyeball test is helpful, but for velocities one hundredth means something in sport, and the one tenth measure is nice but frankly a little off base.