I love the idea of marginal gains. See Tracy’s blog post about the idea here.
I first heard about in the sports content reading Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes–and What We Can Learn from Them which, by the way, is a fun book about sports performance.
The main idea as I recall it was that when you are working with elite athletes at the top of their game you aren’t going to be able to make big changes and see big improvements. All the athletes are working at near capacity. Instead you focus on making lots of small improvements in all areas.
My favourite example concerned cyclists and sleep quality. It turns out, not surprisingly, that athletes sleep better at home. How to replicate those conditions on the road? The coach had them bring along pillows and blankets from home.
But coaches traditionally haven’t much attention to women’s menstrual patterns. Until now.
” One emerging issue in women’s sport is the menstrual cycle and its impact on performance, player health and injury risk,” explains Dawn Scott, the USWNT’s fitness coach, exclusively to The Telegraph. “I’ve known about these effects, the research, for a long time – but working with 23 players, I had always struggled to know how to accurately monitor that and how to individualise strategies for players.”
It’s a great story. Go read it! But what I love is that the coaching team decided to be open and talk about it–not keeping the competitive edge a secret.
““We want to end the taboo,” says Scott. “At the elite level, but also for teenage girls. They should feel comfortable talking about this with their coaches.” Bruinvels admits that awareness and improved education are key motivations for her work. “Often we are afraid of discussing this because we don’t really understand it,” she says. “I feel particularly for male coaches, who wonder how they would start this discussion.”