Last Week in Applied Sports Science, 8/24-8/30

ESPN ran a set of feature articles on the art of talent evaluation in the College Basketball vertical, with a long piece by Eamonn Brennan anchoring the set. Brennan’s article goes past the art and looks for the science in the talent assessment process. What Brennan found is that more information is not necessarily leading to better outcomes for teams or for players, except when coaches, like Gregg Marshall of Wichita State or Brad Stevens, formerly coach at Butler, apply some discipline to recruiting off-the-radar players.

The way I understand the discipline of assessment comes from research technology and evaluating early stage technical work for commercial potential. It cannot be much different from goes on with assessing athletes: You gather information, as much as possible with your own two eyes, then you combine it with your professional experience to set priorities. The key, for me, was owning the information gathering process so that I could, in turn, own the decision-making process. Of all the inputs you can turn to for help with an evaluation process, none of those expert sources should make decisions for you. That is the assessor’s job. In a world is filled with non-expert experts, the assessment task is be truly expert, to know what’s true, what’s false, what’s opinion and what’s unknowable in the due diligence. Do that and assessments are not guesses.

One thing that looking closely at sports science has taught me is that talent development goes hand in hand with athlete training, with injury prevention, with coaching strategy and, ultimately, with sports business and management. All of the disruptive technology in sports science can either be incorporated into disciplined decision-making processes, or decision-makers can ignore it (or worse, be stupid about it) and makes guesses instead of decisions. Whether it is assessing people, ideas or ice cream flavors, own the decision-making process so that you can own the decision.

The Best Things I Read Last Week:

  1. Game, set, marathon? Tennis players, already logging on-court miles, thinking of going long distance   Newsday … A significant number of the world’s best tennis players are seeing themselves as endurance athletes, to the point where they run marathons on a whim, after winning deep into tournaments. [headsup: annoying video commercial autoplays in rightside column]
  2. In the Age of Technology, Occam’s Razor Still Applies   International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance … The best choice is the simplest choice that works. True that.
  3. Nutritional strategies to support concurrent training   European Journal of Sports Science … Concurrent training refers to athletes who train for strength and for endurance simultaneously, like those tennis players. This review paper looks at the role fuel stands to play in what is a challenging, but highly worthwhile, training objective.
  4. Hip Muscle Loads During Running at Various Step Rates   Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy … Sports medicine is becoming increasingly aware of the role that the kinetic chain plays in causing injuries. Measurements like this are important progress to eventually develop clinical injury prevention and rehabilitation practices.
  5. Why You Should Want Your Kid to Be a Slow Learner   Science of Us blog, … “We learn better when we find learning difficult,” say cognitive scientists.


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