volume 11 number 1
Coaching Association Participation Expands - Creates Need for Greater Say in Governance of Individual Sports
The Sport Act of 1978 created autonomous governing bodies for each participating Olympic sport. Through this Sport Act, the sport of track and field was organized into first the Athletics Congress and presently into USA Track & Field. Title IX, the women’s equality provision, was a tremendous impetus to the development and expansion of coaching associations. For instance, the volleyball coaches association has grown to (1,000 members) and softball/baseball (3,000 members). School based track and field is the largest participatory sport in the United States. 1.2 million scholastic cross country and track and field athletes participate, and this number grows to 1.5 million when the collegiate ranks are added to the mix.
If you watched the telecast of the last Winter Olympics the simulation of one downhill skier with another competitor was intriguing. No your eyes were not deceiving you, they haven’t changed alpine skiing so that competitors race side by side, it is actually an inventive digital software that lets you view two performers simultaneously. The software product, called Dartfish, is representative of the new technologies that are revolutionizing the technical aspects of coaching. Where previously, team meetings were characterized by a coach struggling with a projector to find the correct sequence of play in quest of the teachable moment, this kind of technology digitizes it into exact segments so you can stop action the technique for further introspection of the recorded moment. Forty-five Winter Olympic medallists used the product in their training for the Winter Games in order to increase their chances for peak performance.
Sport psychology is going digital. Modern applied sport psychologists are using digital cameras, computers and other devises to help coaches enhance the performance of their athletes. From a historical perspective, coaches have been leaders in the use of film and videotape to improve the teaching/learning process. Good coaches are good teachers! They know how to break complex skills down into their component parts and use a whole/part method of instruction. Experienced coaches know that a ‘good picture is worth a thousand words”. And, “show and tell” is always better than showing or telling.
Echinacea, a popular but largely untested herbal remedy for the common cold, showed no benefit when given to a small group of college students with sore throats and stuffy noses, researchers say. University of Wisconsin researchers gave capsules of the herb to 73 students suffering from cold symptoms. Another 75 got a placebo, or dummy pill, made of alfalfa. After 10 days, both had gotten equally ill, the study said.
Editor note: Dr. Lou Pack has been a Podiatrist for 30 years. Involved in teaching his entire career, he is a nationally known lecturer and author and has done presentations abroad as well. Dr Pack has many credentials attached to his name, not the least of which is Director of Certification, Functional Foot Orthodics, Division of Enhanced Performance, United States Sports Academy- to say that Dr. Pack is the leading developer of the most effective orthodic devices in the world- an expert performing a service at the top of his game. Utilizing his devices, and working through his intelligence can be both a service to yourself and your athletes and as well as a means of furthering your business career.
My early interest in biomechanics was born of recovery of my own running injury problems. Fortunately, in the early 1970’s the epicenter of knowledge regarding biomechanics was in Northern California, and although I was training to become a surgeon, using orthotics to solve my running problems began a 30-year interest in lower extremity biomechanics and orthotics. During this period, I became amazed at two specific facts: First, that most athletes are not examined biomechanically as thoroughly as they could be prior to an injury, and secondly, the dramatic difference a good, properly casted and fabricated set of functional foot orthotics can make, both in injury prevention and in optimizing performance.
Mercury, a potent neurotoxin capable of damaging the central nervous system of adults and impairing neurological development in fetuses and children has been used as a manufacturing catalyst in urethane-based running track surfaces since the 1970s, and most tracks built today continue to use mercury in their construction. But recently, influenced in part by rising litigation, stiffer federal regulations, and more clearly defined health risks from mercury exposure, colleges are becoming more socially conscious and having running tracks built without the use of mercury.
SI recently reported on the epidemic decline in the number and quality of individual sport stars presently representing the United States. Even though sport fans are well aware of some outstanding performers, on reflection this apparent state of affairs is alarming. The only way to combat this demise is to reexamine the qualities of our former champions to understand how future aspiring American individual athletes can adopt their greatness. In looking back to the great individual performers of generations past, no luminary is more representative of what we should revert back to than super USA miler Steve Scott.
It is 42 years since Australian miler Herb Elliott broke the world’s record for the mile by the largest margin in history. His coach, Percy Wells Cerutty, was a pioneer in many aspects of training. His most well known approach was to have his athletes run up and down a long sand dune till they were completely fatigued. I was the last coach to train with Cerutty as I set up a tour for him in 1974 when I was Director of the Esalen Sports Center in San Francisco and Big Sur California. By then, an elder sage, I learned his training principles and was the last person to receive the synthesis of his complete program for training athletes to become world champions. One of the wonderful things that will occur in 2003 is a new biography on Cerutty’s life and work. The biography is written by Graem Sims, the editor of InSport, the largest sport magazine in Australia. The long overdue publication will cover Cerutty’s work in training over 30 world record holders, and his innovative resistance training methods.