I was rather embarrassed back in 2009 when FourFourTwo, the country's largest football magazine, took an interview I did with them and twisted it beyond all recognition. One of the phrases they quoted me as saying, completely out of context, was the following pungent little gem:
"You can't polish a turd."
I now embrace what I said and have refined my own understanding a little more.
It turns out you can polish a turd.
Fossilised dinosaur droppings are called coprolites and are polished and sold as pretty ornaments and pieces of jewellery. True story.
I look around the world of sports performance and athletic development and for the most part only see people polishing turds, metaphorically speaking.
We take ourselves or athletes were are working with and we want improvements. We want shinier sports performance.
With the ends firmly in sight, we are often blinded to the process that would lead there.
I was watching a video just this morning of a well-respected speed and agility coach working with an elite team sport athlete. It seemed that the thinking behind their work together was that drilling tasks repetitively and working to influence the relevant energy systems would help the athlete get faster and more agile.
They seemingly paid no attention to the athlete moving far from ideally in the first place.
Sure, sports performance can be upgraded to a certain extent by conditioning the relevant energy systems even if somebody moves like shit but this is, in essence, polishing a turd.
How about we work with athletes and help them move like something better than shit?
A turd can only shine so brightly after all and to do so, it has to become hard and brittle in the first place.
Learning to move better is equivalent to swapping the turd for something naturally shinier and can bring those speed and agility improvements we all crave without so much time, hard work and risk of sports injury.
You can polish a turd, but do you really want to?
Arton "Shine bright, not shite" Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Injury Rehab and Performance, Harley Street, London, W1