HIGH PERFORMANCE INITIATIVE
Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance
WHY HAS CAL INSTITUTED A HIGH PERFORMANCE INITIATIVE?
Cal Athletics has a simple vision: to be the world leader in the provision of high performance sport for student-athletes. At the core of this vision is the High Performance Initiative (HPI). In line with the University's "long tradition of untraditional excellence," the HPI challenges conventional ways of thinking about and delivering high performance in an intercollegiate setting.
History has shown a tendency in intercollegiate sport to emulate accepted performance models, but the HPI is different. The HPI applies worldwide best practices in sport and human performance to all aspects of the athletic department. This commitment creates & sustains high performance across Cal Athletics and maximizes the potential of our student-athletes, coaches and support staff.
Maximize Competitive Advantage
Take advantage of the world's "best practice" sports and human performance thinking in order to give student-athletes, coaches and support staff "the edge" over our competitors.
Efficient Use of Resources
Through the application of system and process thinking, we can optimize the precious resources available (e.g., people, time, facilities and budget), effectively doing more with less.
Optimize the Student-Athlete Experience
We want our student-athletes to succeed not only as athletes, but to reach their potential as students and human beings as well.
WHAT IS THE HIGH PERFORMANCE INITIATIVE?
1. Applying a Different Mindset to Intercollegiate Athletics
Cal athletics HPI is all about innovation, not imitation. While we embrace the traditions of intercollegiate athletics and respect the practice of our competitors, HPI is fundamentally about applying internationally recognized and scientifically proven approaches to student athletics. We want our student-athletes, coaches and support staff to be at the cutting edge of experiencing and delivering world-class performance and maximizing their potential.
2. Delivering World-Class Support Services and Facilities
In order to apply and deliver this HPI philosophy, Cal is committed to delivering world-class support services and facilities. Cal will provide excellence not only in coaching, sports medicine, sport science, strength & conditioning and academic support per se, but also in the unique ways that they are delivered.
In terms of facilities, the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance, opening Summer 2011, will have with few parallels in North America.
PERFORMANCE, CLEARLY DEFINED
In order to achieve high performance, HPI clearly defines performance. Sports performance consists of five key factors: Skills, Tactics, Fitness, Mental Toughness and Culture. The Cal High Performance Pie (below right) visually represents these five factors and applies to any student-athlete, team, department or group.
Key Features of the Five Factors of Performance:
All factors impact each other. They do not live in a vacuum!
Each sport, team, position and student-athlete will vary in the relative importance of each factor
A team and student-athlete's performance pie will be unique to them, with each factor consuming a share of the pie that meets their distinct performance demands.
Consequently, a central goal of the HPI is to design and implement customized performance plans for each sport, team and individual student-athlete based upon the performance pie.
This approach is unprecedented in collegiate sport.
UNDERSTANDING THE FIVE PERFORMANCE FACTORS
Let us breakdown each of the five performance factors using an example: The Football Quarterback. A player's performance involves a wholly unique combination of these performance factors that support groups must consider during service provision.
1. Skills: Sport-Specific technical ability
For quarterbacks, consider the mastering of a throwing motion, coordinating the footwork of a three and five-step drop, or developing a strong cadence. After a decision is made, the technical skill determines how you execute.
2. Tactics: Competitive Strategy & the 'X's and O's'
Quarterbacks must accurately read defensive formations and account for disguises in coverage upon decision-making. Consider this the understanding of when and why to implement technical skills.
3. Mental Toughness: Psychological skills
A Quarterback needs to have mental skills such as confidence and the right focus at the right time. He must be physically tough, perform under pressure and be resilient.
4. Fitness: Physical Requirements for Sport
A Quarterback needs speed, strength, power, explosiveness, and agility. He may need speed to make quick bursts, a strong body to take a hit or agility to avoid oncoming rushers.
5. Culture: A Performance Environment that Drives Training, Competition and the Total Student-Athlete Experience.
Team culture is the bedrock of performance. How often do talented individuals or groups fail because the performance environment isn't right? A college quarterback needs a performance environment that is both challenging and supportive in order to succeed on and off the field.
THE ELEMENTS OF HIGH PERFORMANCE
If performance is about five key factors - skills, fitness, mental toughness, tactics and culture - then being high performance is about maximizing these factors. How does Cal do this? By being world class at three things: Communication, Information and Integration.
Great communication in sport is vital. In an Intercollegiate Athletics (IA) environment, over 90% of an individual's time is dedicated to communication, including student-athletes, coaches, support staff and administrative staff. It comes as no surprise then that poor communication can easily obstruct performance, whereas great communication creates and sustains high performance. The HPI framework ensures communication excellence in several areas:
Communication of the IA vision and values across the department
Excellence in communication across departments
Excellence in communication between administrators, staff, coaches and student-athletes
World's best practice communication within each sport, i.e. between support staff, coaches and student-athletes
Creating clarity around how coaches and student-athletes can access HPI support services
High Performance IT Platform
Currently in development, our innovative information-technology platform epitomizes the pursuit of communication excellence. This browser-based system will allow coaches, support staff and student-athletes to develop an online community that posts, shares and discusses integral performance data. Coaches and support staff can:
Post yearly, monthly and weekly high performance plans
Post training sessions
Post and share film in slow motion
Allow online discussion of high performance
Record and store strength and conditioning sessions
Post academic achievement
Provide a platform to communicate and integrate high performance information.
No other communication platform similar to this exists in collegiate sport.
HPI ensures that the administration, coaches, student-athletes and support staff have the best information possible in order to make the best decisions possible. This maximizes performance, resources and the student-athlete experience. Toward these ends, Cal Athletics is committed to Evidence Based, Best Practice (EBBP).
EBBP is in direct contrast to using information based upon rules of thumb, folklore and tradition. Sure, gut feel and experience are important in sport, but consider how much better we can perform if we have the best and most reliable information possible on which to base our decisions?
The HPI encourages administrators, support staff, coaches and student-athletes to ask, "what's the evidence and what's best practice here?" when analyzing and diagnosing performance challenges and looking for performance solutions. The better the information quality, the better the decision quality. When it comes to high performance information, Why guess when you can know?
At Cal, we ensure world-class information in a number of ways:
Medical screening to assess potential muscular-skeletal weaknesses
Best practice fitness testing and monitoring protocols
Staff and coach education support with the latest research
Using the best available coaching, sport science, strength & conditioning and sports medicine data to enhance student-athlete performance.
The five key factors of performance (skills, tactics, fitness, mental toughness and culture) do not live in a vacuum. High performance integrates these factors for each sport, team and individual. Coaches and support staff work day-to-day to assess and monitor student-athlete's performance needs, then jointly to improve strengths and address areas of improvement. For example, INTEGRATION occurs when student-athletes with great physical talent and ability need psychological support to maximize their mental "game," or to simply manage the stresses of everyday student life. The HPI supports these students by ensuring that all support units work collaboratively to understand their unique human needs and offer valuable solutions. Cal is committed to maximizing student-athlete performance and the student-athlete experience as a whole, not just in parts. A few more examples include:
Individual Performance Plans
Each student-athlete receives an individualized high performance development plan based upon the combined input of the coaches and experts who support them.
The Interdisciplinary Performance Log provides information on training load, critical training variables and noteworthy lifestyle factors to assist in monitoring the health and performance of each individual.