The Problem of Consistency in Athlete Development
Any coach who has spent a number of seasons coaching will have come across the dilemma of Consistency. On any given day your athlete(s) will perform amazing feats of performance and the very next day (assuming adequate recovery) they will be incapable of meeting even simple performance targets. When queried about this turn of events the athlete(s) will either not be able to identify a cause or will fish for some implausible reason for the performance change. Several days later the performance quality will once again return and appear to be the natural state of being.
The cause of this inconsistency may well remain a mystery for many years to come. Unraveling all of the variables that drive human performance to find a causal factor is a statistical improbability. However, for a coach, the cause is far less important than the effect. We are far less interested in why something happens than we are with what happens. We can safely leave the ‘why’ the the scientists and be satisfied with improving our ability to predict the ‘what’. When we improve our ability to predict what will happen we give ourselves and our athletes the capability to adjust and accommodate for those temporary changes and regressions that occur from time to time.
In order to gain capacity to predict the ‘what’ we need a predictive engine. Statistical methods work well in simple situations using concepts like Standard Deviations and the Regression to the Mean. These concepts allow us to plot performances that appear to be non-linear and arrive at an understanding of the range of performances that would be normally expected within one or two Standard Deviations. Using these methods it isn’t possible to exactly predict what a performance would be but it is possible to predict the scope of what normally expected performances would be. This is a step in the right direction but a small step. The work of Arthur M Young may provide us with a more useful alternative.
Arthur M Young and the Reflexive Universe