Sport sciences, one more time

My last post about German sports sciences was just an example, probably representing for the status of sport sciences in more countries. I might look like an isolated coach thinking this way, but let me explain myself better.
It’s not that I do not appreciated the contribution of sport sciences to elite performance sport, although there are not that many, it’s more that I think sport science is sometimes overrated just because of the word science.
In general I have very good relationship with sports scientist from all fields, I invited them to speak at the seminars that I organised in 1990-2000, a few names? Per Tesch, Carmelo Bosco, Marco Cardinale, Atko Viru, Paul Balsom, most of them have been coaches or worked closely together with coaches, some of them often came to the track to listen, to observe, to exchange opinion.

Just others don’t seem to have seen an athlete in years, they forgot the way to the pitch, the track, the pool, the field, or the indoor arena, becoming detached from their object of study. But maybe they don’t need to. What I really encounter that they sometimes are not even aware of the  important work in their own field. A biomechanist should not have to ask me: ‘Carmelo Bosco, who is that??” and tell me he is completely unaware of the research of Bosco, so I have to send him Bosco’s publications  Especially not when he is on his way to reinvent the wheel by proposing the same research Bosco did in the 1980’s.

Another example? I will translate this piece of “science” written by a famous professor in exercise sciences in Holland, in November 2004. Translated: (1.) “The latest piece of equipment in the world of sports is the Omegawave”…. ”It would register the signal from the brain, the so-called “omega-brainwaves”, a type of brainwave  that looks like it has been specially invented for the Omegawave”.  (Italics are mine).
But wait a minute, the professor forgot to read e.g:
Aladjalova, N.A: Slow electrical processes in the brain, Progress in Brain Research, Vol.7,  Elsevier, 1964, or

Bechetereva, N.P: The neurophysiological aspects of human mental activity; Oxford University Press , 1978, maybe
Ilyukhina, V.A; Kiryanova, R.E; Baez, E: Infraslow processes of the human brain  and organization of mental activity; in. Psychophysiology. Today and tomorrow.; Bechereva, N.P.(Ed.) Pergamon Press, Oxford, GBR, 1981, pg.45-55, and
Ilyukhina, V.A: The Omega-potential: A quantitative parameter of the state of brain structures and organism. 1.physiological significance of the omega-potential when recorded from deep structures and from the scalp; Human Physiology Vol.8, No.3, 1982, pg.450-456
Otherwise, he would not have to make a fool out of himself by suggesting that the omegawave is just some  obscure or imaginary brainwave. Of course a professor in exercise science is not a brain specialist or neuroscientist you might say… but if a professor in exercise science and a teacher has a strong opinion or view about a subject we might at least expect that he knows what he is talking about …
(2) “The Omegawave partially relies in calculation of the HRV and based on this the heart rate at anaerobic threshold is estimated”  Nobody could or would ever state that the HR at anaerobic threshold is derived from HRV.  So again, an assumption based on yes, on what?? The estimation of the HR at anaerobic threshold in the Omegawave system is derived from the amplitude-frequency analysis of the ECG formerly called differential ECG, which is a completely different test than HRV.
Although resent publications showed  that even HRV indeed could be used to estimate the HR at anaerobic threshold…..

Anosov, O; Patzak, A; Kononovich, Y; Persson, P.B: High frequency oscillations of the heart rate during ramp load reflect the human anaerobic threshold; Eur.J.Appl.Physiol.Vol.83, 2000, pg. 388-394.

Floter, N; Schmid, T; Keck, A; reer, R; Jelkmann, W; Braumann, K.M: Bestimmung der individuellen anaeroben Schwelle mittels der Herzfrequenzvariabilität in Abhängigkeit von der sympatho-adrenergen Aktivität; Deutsche Zeitschr. Sportmedizin, Vol.63, No.2, 2012, pg.41-45.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the tabloid-science in  this article, but it was a insult to exercise science and to the scientists behind the principles of the Omegawave system.
More important is the question: why is this happening? Where is this coming from? My guess is that  in many cases it’s a matter of “not invented here”, being overly critical on concept, ideas, publications or equipment not coming from their own institute or their own country. An observation made a long time ago:
But there is more:
Your homework for coming week: read these two articles about  science and science in general and you will start to see where I am standing.
1.    http://sportsperformancescience.blogspot.nl/2010/12/ten-things-sports-science-does-wrong.html#more

2.    http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21588057-scientists-think-science-self-correcting-alarming-degree-it-not-trouble

Let me end with this piece of wisdom:
“ The human understanding, once it has adopted opinions, either because they were already accepted and believed, or because it likes them, draws everything else to support and agree with them. And though it may meet a greater number and weight of contrary instances, it will, with great and harmful prejudice, ignore or condemn or exclude them by introducing some distinction, in order that the authority of those earlier assumptions may remain intact and unharmed.”
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Next time about “new” sprinting technique, and about the “windows of trainability”

About Henk Kraaijenhof

My name is Henk Kraaijenhof and I started this blog as a random collection of concepts, ideas, stories and events that are important or interesting to me in my work as an international performance consultant in a wide range of fields, and sometimes outside of my work. I will try to post a new entry every 3-4 days. Feel free to comment if you like.
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