“Our sport is your sport’s punishment”- A Brief Look at Motivation and Punishment

“Our sport is your sports punishment” Way back when I was a high school runner, quotes like these would invariably pop up on the back of a High School Cross-Country team’s shirt. The obvious point was that what we do as runners is often what team sports were assigned to do when they showed up late to practice, missed a crucial play, or made some sort of mistake.It’s not unusual for teams to invoke punishment for athletes who show up late or miss practice. The thinking goes flows along the lines of “We’ll teach them a lesson so that they never want to make that mistake again.” It sounds good in theory, if we make them do bear crawls after arriving 2 minutes late, then they will make sure they are on time. They will learn their lesson! We were partially correct. They learn a lesson. Just not the one […]

Episode 42- Mimicry Vs. Mastery

This week, we take on the big question of mastery, particularly in regards to coaching. Beginners tend to mimic. It’s ingrained in us; mimicry is the way we first learn how to make it in life, as we copy our parents when we are just toddlers. In coaching, this might mean copying the training plans of elites or borrowing workouts seen on a “workout wednesday” video. As we progress as coaches, we shift towards creating an overarching philosophy of coaching, rather than a simple copy and paste job. This journey towards a developed reasoning and understanding is mastery. In this podcast, we start with our humble beginnings and the mistakes we made, and are still making. From here we shift on the skills we’ve had to develop including:learning how to coalesce information and then filter it. We take you through our thoughts on the journey towards Finally, we delve into […]

The Battle Between Sport Science, Analytics, and Intuitive Coaching

With the rise of sports science and analytics, there’s a tendency to hold these fields as bearers of absolute truth. If the science or data proclaim a fact, then who are we to question it? The notion that you need statistical significance or a double blind placebo controlled study to find the actual truth is a notion that is indoctrinated into your mind as a young science student at University. It’s repeated so often, that you actually start to believe it, quoting studies, performing data analysis, in search of a truth. Long gone are the days of simply “knowing.” Sports science, data analytics, sabermetrics are the new norm in sport. As someone with a proclivity towards science, it’s a welcome change from the older anti-science days. Yet, as a coach, it’s concerning. As the pendulum swings back and forth between a scientific mindset dominance and intuition based coaching truisms, the […]

Episode 41- State of the Sport with Mario Fraioli

In episode 41, we bring in Mario Fraioli to discuss the state of the sport. We start with a different kind of Olympic overview, one which takes a deep dive on the problems that arose and the potential way forward. We talk about how to take control of the narrative of our sport, instead of relying on a singular superhero like Usain Bolt to carry the sport. Ranging from the presentation of our sports, to the creation of new events, to the marketing of the sport, to the doping scourge our sport faces.- we take on what needs to change. Thanks for giving it a listen, and if you could do us a huge favor and rate the show on iTunes that would be great! Steve and Jon @stevemagness @jmarpdx Subscribe: Subscribe on Stitcher Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe via E-mail  

Episode 40- The Businessification of Athletics and the Need for Certainty

What’s the point of sport? In this episode, Jon and I make the case that it’s about education and learning. The culture of coaches used to be educators. They came from a background of using athletics as a means to help student athletes grow and develop. As the top side of the sport professionalized, there’s been a trickle-down effect where College and High School athletics has shifted more and more towards a business model. What’s a business model? It’s a search for certainty. We think that if we apply business school like ideas, use statistics, create fancy models, and apply ‘moneyball’ concepts that we’ll reach a level where we can control and be certain about performance. It’s a fools quest. There are detrimental effects for high school students with the ever growing search for the next great prodigy which is a result of the misuse of the linear growth model. […]

Overtraining- Why a little perspective matters

  “It’s better to undertrain than to overtrain” This phrase is ingrained in every coach’s mind. It’s cliché to say, but like many clichés the truth rings loudly. Take a glance at our modern world: early specialization, 10,000 hour rule maxims, emphasis on miles run per week or number of gut-wrenching intervals completed. It’s no wonder we are worried about overtraining. Couple the enormous training loads with the lack of time and recovery we all feel, and the ticking time bomb of overtraining surely awaits. We all know what overtraining looks like; too much, too soon, with not enough recovery. We envision the insane workouts, the glossed over eyes we see in our athletes, the general feeling of malaise that infiltrates the team. Any coach worth their salt, can glance at a training program and give a reasonable guess on the risks of overtraining. Spot four days a week of […]

Episode 39 – What defines success for a coach?

What defines success for a coach? Is it wins and losses?  Championships won? Leading athletes to new personal bests? Having one athlete win an Olympic medal while destroying 20 of them? These are the common notions that we associated with success. But is it the best way? In this episode of the Magness & Marcus show,  we look at how we, as coaches, should define success. Going back to our early days where the holy grail was coaching athletes to the Olympic Trials and the Olympic games, we look at how initially success is defined externally. We judge ourselves based on the traditional measures of success.  As young coaches, this business model of coaching is ingrained into our mentality. We define ourselves by the races won, championships earned, or PR’s gained by our athletes. We have thoughts of “If only I coach an athlete to a state/NCAA/Olympic Trials championship, then […]

Coaching Psychology- Delivering the right message and understanding where athletes are coming from.

When Patrick McHugh read the book The Energy Bus, he felt inspired. Patrick is an excellent High School Coach. He’s meticulous in his planning, always trying to learn, and willing to reach out to others to help perfect his craft. In other words, he’s the perfect guy to energetically transfer his lessons from a book to the team. Upon reading the book, he gave it to his top runners to read, knowing that they’d get the message and come together. The book hit like a dud. Sure, kids might have picked up a message here or there, but it didn’t have the same profound impact it did with Patrick. The kids couldn’t relate. When an athletic director handed the same book out to his department, about half of the people bought in, glowing with excitement, while others slugged through the words. Despite a large group of pretty successful people, all […]

Is it time to ditch the clock and the chase for records in athletics?

Who has the record for the fastest time at the Kentucky Derby? How about the record at the Daytona 500? What’s the average speed record for the Tour de France? If you know these facts, you’re a more avid fan of sports than I. Records are important in track and field. They allow us to connect to history, comparing how fast Nick Willis and Roger Bannister covered the same 4 laps around a track. No one doubts the importance of records, but what I want to suggest, unlike the aforementioned sports, is that we’ve sold out. Track has become so time and record obsessed that we’ve forgotten what makes sport great. This never-ending search for faster times creates a system where athletes fail more often than they succeed. A system that is reliant on breaking records or exceedingly fast times to get that hit of excitement from the fan and […]

Episode 38-The Science of the Unscience of Running:

Humans have a need for explanations. When faced with uncertainty we rely on closure. The world of running is no different. When something goes wrong, as athletes and coaches we go into a panicked search for a reason why we didn’t perform at our best. Often, we perform elaborate gymnastics attempting to find the elusive explanation. When we perform a search, we often think we are taking a scientific approach; breaking down the potential causes one by one until we find an explanation. While there is merit in taking such a seemingly rationale approach, what often ends up happening is we are simply developing a story to reach closure. We can’t actually say that the warm-up or the meal you ate the night before, or the workout you performed two days before was the magical key to it all. As coaches, this plays out in real life all the time. […]