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How today's elite athletes can thrive by instilling some business sense

Although many of the gold medals in Sochi during the Winter Olympics went to individual athletes, those medals actually symbolize team success and the processes that supported the individual—much like those found at the world's top businesses. In High-Performance Training for Sports, editors David Joyce and Daniel Lewindon offer world-class training advice with a pragmatic reminder of the necessary teamwork that goes on behind the scenes to make individual honors possible.


Joyce and Lewindon acknowledge that there is a vast difference between elite athletes of today and those from previous generations—so much so that today's high-performance landscape would be virtually unrecognizable to someone witnessing it as recently as the turn of the 21st century. “The rules and objectives of the sports may be similar, but the processes undertaken to be the best in the world are markedly different,” Lewindon explains. “Athletes have always made sacrifices to be number one, but the increasing significance and popularity of sport on the world stage have meant becoming an athlete is a career choice that requires total attention and commitment, forsaking all others.”


Having trained numerous world and Olympic champions and over 100 national champions, Joyce maintains that despite someone's individual commitment, no single athlete is an island. He illustrates that for many years, the world of business has led the way in terms of strategic thinking, process management, contingency planning, and best-practice team structures. These methods have shifted the philosophical basis behind world-class practice, instilling a growing awareness that effective business practices can also be applied to the sport world. “Sport success requires long-term planning, stability, and commitment from CEO to masseur, all with a singular vision of improving performance,” he comments. “In this way, high-performance sport is no longer a goal attainable for committed amateurs. It is a goal that needs careful and considered planning.”


Joyce and Lewindon also admit that from the time today's top athletes were adolescents, or in some cases children, they have been carefully nurtured. They have been identified as genetically gifted and sufficiently talented and then groomed and progressively exposed to a training and competitive environment aimed at building a top adult performer. However, much has changed in the field of athletic preparation over the past decade. New technology development and ever-advancing physiological research have meant that what was considered cutting edge 10 years ago is now outdated. This has all happened as the belief in the team aspect of building a champion athlete—comparable to the building of a successful business—has become more prevalent. As the slogan painted on the wall of the dining hall at the 2012 London Olympics claimed, “None of us is as good as all of us.”


In High-Performance Training for Sports, Joyce and Lewindon recognize the changing landscape for training athletes and have assembled numerous world-renowned authorities and practitioners to cover every element of a conditioning program that accounts for individual differences in athletic capacities, training and injury histories, age, experience, and other variables.