Genius athletes becoming extinct?

Numbers game can alienate the magicians

The elite sporting world can be a number crunchers paradise. The latest gadgets telling coaches that x + y (should) = success. We all know that it rarely works out like that. The advent of excessive number crunching in sport has endangered genius athletes.


When I say genius athlete I mean the person who has “the magic” and who seems to do it easy despite their “numbers” not really matching up.  These athletes also tend to be the glue that can hold teams together. They can encourage and inspire other athletes due to their giftedness and natural ability to perform when it counts.

This person can also be a questioner by their very nature and tends to buck the trend because coaches can’t categorise them (“how can they go so fast when they can’t even power clean their own body weight?”). In this way, they can be seen as harder to manage and if their numbers don’t really match up then they can be disposed of relatively easily, when push comes to shove.

The numbers game can be a great shield for coaches to sit behind. It takes courage and instinct to select an athlete because you simply know they are going to perform for you on the day even if their stats don’t show it. How many medals have been lost and how many sporting dreams have been dashed because a coach didn’t have the courage to look beyond the numbers?

Athletes, like all human beings, are different from each other. Those coaches who are seen to be great are usually the ones who take the individuality of their athletes into account. Being flexible to their unique needs whilst successfully integrating them into teams and squads.

Data collection and numbers have their place in sport but should never be used to replace simple communication or to continuously override gut instincts.

The magic factor an athlete has can’t always be quantified but should never be discounted.