jmcilroy's blog

Fausto Coppi - The makings of a champion

As the riders make their way around Italy in the Giro D'Italia I have been reading a book about one of Italy's greatest cyclists Fausto Coppi. He was the Campionissimo - the champion of champions - and his rise to fame is a great case study of what it takes to develop talent.

First of all he obviously had the genes to be a cyclist and as a teenager could easily beat some of the best riders in the region. But there were also other things that played their part.

Do some athletes know how to be coached?

The ex-Olympic and World Champion cyclist Victoria Pendleton is now facing life in a very different saddle. She is currently learning to ride a horse with a view to competing in an amateur race at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016! When I was watching a short video update of progress one thing that struck me was a comment from the coach. As he said…

How long does it take to complete a survey?

At the start of our latest survey of coaches we included the line ‘it should take around 15 minutes to complete.’ Today I went through the data and found that the median time taken was 14 minutes and 45 seconds! I’m glad that we estimated correctly.

We would like to thank everyone who completed the survey – a staggering 3,700 coaches took the time to do it. The first set of results are complete and being finalised for publication but we hope to give a few exclusives in this blog over the next few weeks.

How can we make sport science more accessible?

I recently read an article about sports science knowledge of coaches in Turkey. One of the most interesting questions they asked was what would be the ideal sources of knowledge for coaches. This is different to the question we usually ask about what sources coaches actually use.

For the most part the results were similar (which I take as a positive):

Complexity in the coaching system

One of my favourite books is Alice in Wonderland. While analysing the result from a recent survey of 3,7000 coaches it struck me how coaching is its own Wonderland. In essence some of the results are a muddle.

To give two examples:

  • The most valuable piece of CPD is being used less and less often.
  • The most impressionable participants are taught by the least experienced coaches

The moral of this little story is never to assume that the coaching system is a rational one – coaches and coaching will not always behave how you expect them to.

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