Four mountains, three valleys.

Giving presentations for different audiences three times a week I encountered a lot of common misconceptions about sports training.
The most common ones I will present to you. As a metaphor we can use the picture of four mountains divided from each other by three valleys.


The high-performance training landscape
The high-performance training landscape

The first mountain is called DATA. And the second one: KNOWLEDGE and error 1 is that a lot of coaches think that data is or represents knowledge. The more data one collects or the higher the DATA mountain, the higher the KNOWLEDGE mountain will be. Testing, monitoring, evaluating, analyzing, collecting numbers, filling spreadsheets, thinking that this equals knowledge. Well, it is the same like having the former telephone book of New York, but not knowing the name of who you want to call. Or having and MRI made of your body, perfect data, but can you figure out the meaning of it? In Holland coaches often use the expression “meten is weten”, to measure is to know. I tend to disagree, for me it is “weten is meten”, or to know is to measure.
To go from DATA to KNOWLEDGE you first need to cross the valley of INTERPRETATION, and interpretation depends on a foundation of basic knowledge and mechanisms, independent of the data itself. First you have to know what fever is before you can interpret the reading of the thermometer otherwise the reading has little meaning than just a number. Unfortunately young coaches tend to think that being able to look something up has the same value as to know something already. You notice when somebody gets involved in an accident, are you going to immediately perform CPR with precious seconds tick away, or first Google how to do it and loose a life under your hands, while trying to figure out the right website?

The second error is that KNOWLEDGE equals CONTROL and MANAGEMENT. A new generation of young coaches is educated with the idea that they can do something just because (they think) they know how to do it. I know exactly the chemical composition of the pigments van Gogh used, I can even buy the brushes that he used, or study the biomechanics of his hand and arms movements in detail, but you won’t see a van Gogh-like painting coming from my hands, not even close.
Reading all the books and articles about coaching and training, visiting all the seminars and congresses to listen to the world’s best coaches, still does not equal being a good coach or is a guarantee of becoming one. It’s a condition, but it’s by far not enough. To go from KNOWLEDGE to CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT, you need EXPERIENCE AND EXPERIMENTS. Armed with all your knowledge in your head you still need to practice in real life, to try, to test, to stumble and fall and to stand up and try again, and this takes time, again. You don’t learn to dance the tango or to pole vault from reading a book about it only.
Time seems to have become a rare commodity these days, who can still say that he has time….?

The third common error is to think that CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT can be directly and linearly translated into PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT. Not every training or training concept leads to performance improvement, athletes drop out, get injured, get overtrained or simply fail to improve and fail to perform at the right time.

Training is a complex process in which many variables are involved and bringing one variable up may lead to others going down at the same time. What you need is the clear VISION on the whole of the process, not only on the output (one variable)but on the whole of the outcome (all variables). It’s this VISION that brings you from CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT to the highest peaks of PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT.

My error formula is simple:


  1. Joy

    This applies exactly to why most arguments you see online as well about training methodology/practices etc. are pretty pointless. Most often it is two camps screaming at each other from the mountains of Data and Knowledge and interpretation is what is getting unheard.

    1. Hallo Cor, Leuke dat je mailde, bedankt voor je reactie. Ja, eenvoudig is het nooit, maar we doen ons best 😉 Ik heb nog geen kristallen bol waarin ik de prestaties van Mujinga kan voorspellen. Groeten en misschien tot een keer in Zwitserland. Ben wel wat druk zoals je leest met seminars organiseren, boeken en artikelen en lezingen geven, dus ik zal niet al te frequent in Zwitserland zijn, daarnaast zijn de indooraccomodaties niet veel beter dan in Nederland. Henk

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