Soccerology Podcast #2 – Ross Bennett (Head of Academy Sports Science, QPR)

The second Soccerology podcast is now live!

In this episode we discuss:

– Ross’s roles with Chelsea FC, Aspire, QPR and London GAA.
– His philosophy in Sports Science and how he has developed through experience.
– GPS, RPE, Heart Rate and monitoring on a budget.
– Working with full-time and part-time athletes.
– The external challenges youth players may face during their development.
– Translating the science for youth development coaches.
– The challenges of part-time players and full-time workers.
– People first, athletes second.

 

Soccerology Podcast #1 featuring @Fergus_Connolly

Welcome to the first episode of the Soccerolgy Podcast with Dr. Fergus Connolly.

Dr. Fergus Connolly is a performance consultant who has worked with a variety of sports teams including Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool FC, San Fransico 49ers and the University of Michigan.

In this episode Fergus discusses:

– His recent experiences in sports science across multiple team sports

– Fergus’s books 59 Lessons and Game Changer.

– Advice for young sport scientist’s and coaches.

– Learning from Prof. Vitor Frade, Brendan Rodgers, Sam Allardyce, Bobby Robson, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Charlie Francis and many others.

– Buy-in and the art and science of coaching.

– Individualization in team sports.

– The Policeman, The Drunk and The Priest…

To listen on Itunes Click here

BASES 2018 Presentation

A copy of my presentation, ‘The effect of sleep on high speed running during a weekly micro-cycle in elite female soccer players’,  at the BASES Student Conference, Newcastle (2018).

 

Taking the Academic Route – a reflection.

I wrote the bulk of this post on Facebook (highest form of evidence) last week after some reflection. Having attended the BASES Student Conference over the last few days, and whilst listening to the keynote speakers such was Prof. Graeme Close, Micheal Naylor, Nick Grantham and Dr. Steve Ingham, I decided to add to it and publish as a blog post.

So here it is:

Into the final few days at university after 5 years.

I was the kid at school who didn’t do particularly well, consequently I was always told to concentrate on studies rather than football. That wasn’t going to happen. Football is my life and has been since I was 9.

I actually started a degree in 2006, but quit after a year and a half. On reflection, I probably wasn’t that bothered about Sports Science/S&C/Nutrition. I just wanted to play or coach. After another serious injury, and my inquisitive nature, I knew there was more to my rehab, to strength training, to my pitch based training. I went back in 2013 and started all over again (fortunately I was allowed back on my course, but had to start from the bottom again).

It has been a challenging, but interesting, few years. I have suffered loss, that of close friends in tragic circumstances, and close family members. I won’t lie, this has been incredibly difficult to process.  I have also had to hold down a full time job and work in football. It’s not been easy, far from it. Time management is crucial – I found that out the hard way.

One defining moment for me was sitting in my hotel room a couple of years ago. We had just beaten Rangers 5-1. I was elated to have been part of the game and the occasion, especially being the first women’s game ever at Celtic Park. I opened an email from the University, and the mark was low, very low. I listened to the audio feedback: “Andrew, this is problematic, very problematic at this stage of your academic career”. From elation to utter disbelief. At that moment everything changed, I decided I never, ever wanted to hear those words again. Ever. I went to work and asked to cut my hours, taking a hit financially was tough but one of the best things I have ever done. I new I had to give it my all. I had quit before and that wasn’t going to happen.

I have been incredibly lucky to have the support from so many, from fellow practitioners, academic staff, family & friends and those within the clubs I have worked with over the past 5 years (especially those at Celtic FC), its been a long journey, but its coming to an end (this part anyway!).

On Thursday I presented the results of my study at the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science in Newcastle, and have had a couple of articles published recently – of which I am incredibly proud (I failed English Language GCSE btw!).

But this post is more about what I have learnt along this incredible journey as opposed to me:

1) Read everything – you will never stop learning.

2) Ask questions, seek out the best in your chosen field and get to know them, ask them what you want to know, be proactive. You will learn far more from listening.

3) Understand your why, what makes you tick and consistently set goals and evaluate them.

4) Be patient. Easy roads lead nowhere. Take your time.

5) Fail upwards. There is no failure, only feedback.

6) Go get as much experience as you possibly can, don’t expect everything to fall into your lap neither. It won’t. You need to develop your craft and then keep refining it.

7) You are never too old to try something new. If I can do this 26 years after leaving school, anyone can!

8) Get out there, go on field trips, visit clubs, do whatever it takes to learn more.

9) Keep your feet on the ground, and stay focussed. There will be huge highs and demoralising lows – but you must learn from the lows. There is a lesson in everything in life, seek it out. There will be detractors, and that can be difficult at first, but don’t give them airtime.

10) Excellence doesn’t go unnoticed, neither does BS. Work hard, seek to improve, but more importantly strive for excellence instead of perfection. Recognition will come at the right time, the right place, with the right people.

I really hope that these words will inspire just one person to go and push themselves to better themselves.

Oh, and one final point…

Maybe you can concentrate on your studies – and do the study in football.

 

Recent articles:

A critical review of the gender differences in male and female ACL risk factors and prevention in soccer.

Women’s football & the menstrual cycle – how can we further individualise?

 

Critical Thinking vs Criticism

I have been meaning to write this particular blog for a long time – so here it goes!

Often in a world dominated by social media, it sometimes feels like it is acceptable to judge a point of view on how many retweets or like a post get. In turn, interactions are created between authors and followers that may have positive and negative consequences for both parties.

However, are we losing the art of conversation and debate? Where does criticism end and critical thinking begin (or vice versa!), and what is the difference between the two?

Let’s start by having a look at two very broad definitions:

Critical Thinking

“The intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising or evaluating information from, or generated by, research, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication as a guide to a belief and action”
 

Criticism

“Being inclined to judge severely and find fault”

Critical thinking is an active process as we are effectively thinking about our own thinking, constantly evaluating our thoughts and actualising. Criticism is a passive process whereby we act on our first desire, thought or emotion without any evaluation. As there is no real evaluation or questioning in our thinking or any process involved,  criticism is easy to give and often hard to accept.
Critical thinking is not negative and should not be perceived as such. Whilst critical thinking is about judgement, which can include finding faults, it has more emphasis on questioning and analysis, whereas criticism will have negative undertones as it is finding fault based on passive thinking and / or emotion.
Another big difference is getting personal, something I have seen a lot of on social media very recently. Criticism is more than often directed at a personal level. However, critical thinking should always be directed towards the argument (this may include published work, or theories / concepts).
The critical thinker is open minded, will question their assumptions/beliefs and consider all views, but not necessarily accept them.
The Open University (2008) uses a ‘stairway’ to demonstrate the skills involved in the critical thinking process:
Step 1: Process – Take in the information (i.e. in what you have read, heard, seen or done)
Step 2: Understand – Comprehend the key points, assumptions, arguments and evidence presented.
Step 3: Analyse – Examine how these key components fit together and relate to each other.
Step 4: Compare – Explore the similarities and differences between ideas.
Step 5: Synthesise – Bring together different sources of information to serve an argument or idea you are constructing. Make logical connections between the different sources that help you shape and support your idea.
Step 6Evaluate – Assess the worth of an idea in terms of its relevance to your needs, the evidence on which it is based and how it relates to other pertinent ideas.
Step 7: Apply – Transfer the understanding you have gained from your critical evaluation and use in response to question.
Step 8: Justify – Use critical thinking to develop arguments, draw conclusions, make inferences and identify implications.
Source: ‘Critical thinking: online guidance’, the Open University (2008) no longer available but cited in Williams (2009)

 

Hopefully this blog has demonstrated not only a few of the differences between critical thinking and criticism, but also the real skill in training the mind to think critically.
Further reading:

Williams, K. (2009). Getting critical. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

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