Today I am truly elated to introduce our first presenter for The 2018 Seminar, Patrick Ward. Patrick has worked in many different realms of the sport performance world and been extremely successful at each one. His desire to dig into data and look deeper into all things performance, while continuing to pursue a greater education himself makes him a home run addition to The Seminar. So let’s meet Patrick Ward.
If you could, please give our readers a little background information about you, what your niche in the world of athletics is, accomplishments, how you got there, education, any products you have available and/or notable publications.
PW: I started in the field in 2001. Over the years I’ve worn a few different hats, from strength coach, to massage therapist, to researcher, to data analyst. All of the stops along the way have been fun and interesting. I’ve had a chance to work with athletes of all levels and abilities. My main educational background was in Exercise Science and I am currently working towards competing my PhD in Applied Sports Science.
Discuss with us the mistakes you see made by strength and conditioning coaches in the United States and around the world, and what you feel should be done differently/how to correct these issues.
PW: I think the main mistake I see is centered around technology, data collection and understanding individual differences. There are those that don’t want to be bothered to collect anything (they don’t even record loads in the gym for their athletes) and you have those that are so enamored with technology that they just end up chasing a bunch of random numbers. Like most things in life, the true answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Collecting data is important as it helps guide decision-making and lets us know when there is a potential problem. Strength coaches work with lots of athletes (hundreds or more) so it is hard to keep everything in your head. Some form of data collection helps identify anyone who might be slipping through the cracks. Those who don’t collect anything are basically just flying blind and, in my opinion, doing their athletes a disservice. On the other side of the coin, we need to be careful with technology. Approach everything with a scientific mind and be skeptical. There are a lot of black boxes out there that don’t provide reliable measures or require specific data collection approaches that may be too challenging to operationalize in the applied setting. If you collect noisy data it becomes impossible to tease out the signal and thus you are left with information that is difficult to make decisions off of.
What advice would you give a coach to improve knowledge in the lines of continuing education, meaning could you point our readers in a direction to find the scientific and practical information to improve the methods they use to improve performance?
PW: Read everything and be skeptical of certification courses. Most certification courses are simply presenting old wine with a new cork. Reading will help you find the key links to understand what these types of courses are trying to get at as well as sniff out some of the BS. I find that many of the people who chase certifications are lacking some fundamental scientific and physiological principles in their learning – there are gaps there. Reading in the sciences will help fill in a lot of the gaps. Additionally, learning how to read scientific research is massively important as it allows you to be skeptical of certain things while also being aware of many limitations.
If you could give a brief description of what our attendees can expect from you at The Seminar?
PW: Through my talk I hope to provide practitioners with a methodology for evaluating the ergonomics of their sport. Essentially, the goal is to show people how to use some of the common technologies and begin to quantify the demands of their sport so that they aren’t just buying technology and hoping to get something from it. I want to help show practitioners a process.
Any Closing Thoughts?
PW: I’m excited to attend the event both to share information as well as learn. I encourage people to contact me with any ideas or information that they might be interested in hearing about, as that will help me produce a talk that is more specific to the interest of the crowd.
Who is Patrick Ward?
Patrick Ward currently works in the Research & Development Department of Seattle Seahawks where his role is centered around data analysis on a variety of different topics in the sport of American football. Patrick has a master’s degree in exercise science, is currently pursuing his PhD in Applied Sports Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA. Patrick’s research interests include statistical methods for evaluating training demands and performance outcomes across all sports.
You can find him on Twitter at: @OSPpatrick
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