Maths and the 21st Century S&C Coach
The reality of modern strength & conditioning is that a moderate level of maths is required to make your way.
If you are going to play with bar velocity and estimate 1RM...you need to understand regressions.
If you plan on reading any one of the millions of research articles produced every year and actually understanding it…you will need to understand statistics at some level.
If you plan on discussing horizontal propulsive impulse in acceleration…well you better have your calculus “ducks in a row”.
The beauty of the concepts and math I’ve just mentioned is that they can all be learned via Google if they’ve slipped a little since high school. The problem is not the learning…the problem is recognizing what you don’t know!
A much maligned ancient S&C coach by the name of Socrates (471-399 BC) famously said...
"True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing”.
I can honesty say that after more than 20yrs of full time professional practice I’m still learning everyday…and not necessarily from the obvious professional development sources. More often than not my best learning experiences come from deep, clinical review of my work and that of those around me. Clinical evaluation of my own performance guides me as much as anything I’ve ever experienced.
Do I know everything…absolutely not. That said I think it is fair to say that I know more than some and less than others. But more importantly than comparing myself to others is understanding what it is I actually KNOW.
While many of us will argue science on many topics, it is fair to say that the bulk of research that gets quoted is based on fairly isolated samples. For example a recent paper examining TSB use in the AFL highlighted some conclusions that based on detailed review of my AFL environment I disagreed with. There’s no problem with having a differing observation to those authoring papers. The problem is if I didn’t look hard at my work, I wouldn’t understand the difference in my environment to that of the one presented in the research and I could easily have drawn inaccurate conclusions and made subsequent poor decisions. The key learning was in the differences with the research, not just accepting the results offered.
Similarly, the use of IMU (inertial motion units) is not a study in absolutes. Because we have information about one thing e.g. average linear speed between two points, does not mean we inherently understand all the forces that a player is subjected in a game of AFL. Recent publication of conclusions drawn from summated GPS information in the AFL from 2015 states clearly that in "finals football the game slows down due to accumulated fatigue from the season”.
My internal study of accelerometer and gyroscope data indicates that the game slows because the way players contest the ball changes significantly, which I conclude impacts the opportunity to move quickly into space and or decreases speed based on accumulated acute fatigue. My study doesn’t necessarily mean I am right beyond question. It simply means that based on what I have studied I am not prepared to accept the conclusions of the authors noted above.
S&C Coach Socrates had this to say…"To find yourself, think for yourself”.
Don’t just blindly accept what is put in front of you irrespective of whether its a course you paid for or a “tweet”. Your challenges to a source of information don’t need to be blasted across social media either. They simply need be your study of what you are prepared to accept into your training philosophy and what you are not. There are an absolutely prolific number of information signals these days.
Back in the day, the biggest information hit you could get was a couple of hours buried in a library photocopying journal articles. Today you can punch out 10 new articles everyday and still not scratch the surface. The filter required is substantial!
So what maths concept do you need to know? Knowledge is like an asymptote (a straight line that approaches a curve but never reaches it).
As the line approaches the curve it never actually crosses it. This mirrors knowledge. While we gain knowledge we can never understand everything absolutely.
Build you training philosophy based on sound study of the incoming / available signals, your environment and those in it. Understand there are elements to the human body and its interaction in sport that we can’t fathom. Search for answers tirelessly, but never assume that you have them all.
Control your ego.
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