Aug. 6, 2012
LONDON - Keith Power, Director of High Performance for Cal Athletics, traveled to Great Britain during the Olympics as a research project to learn how elements of high performance and training models from around the world can be implanted in Berkeley to help Golden Bear student-athletes attain their maximum potential. What follows is a brief overview of Keith's day-by-day activities.
Tuesday, July 31 - I took in a visit to the training ground of one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world, Liverpool FC. I was privileged to meet new head coach Brendan Rogers and invited to watch a practice session before an important European match. I then met the head strength & conditioning coach and performance director. Both the senior squad and academy players (14-18-year olds) use a significant amount of sport science support to monitor the daily and weekly training loads of players. In the past five years, there has been a huge increase in the use of sport science in British and European soccer. However, the facilities of the club were quite poor, which surprised me.
Wednesday, Aug. 1 - I drove 90 minutes south and spent the day at the Aston Villa soccer club training ground, just outside of Birmingham. Aston Villa is owned by Randy Lerner, who until very recently owned the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. Many of the academy staff that I knew previously when I worked with Villa is still there. It was great sharing what the academy does with regard to talent identification, lifestyle management, sports science, coaching, sports medicine and sports technology with what we do at Cal. They have a very impressive set-up. Interestingly, they are mandated by the English Premier league to have such a set-up, otherwise they are not granted a league license!
Thursday, Aug. 2 - Again, I drove south another 90 minutes to the Bisham Abbey National Sports Center, which is located on the banks of the River Thames, not far from Windsor Castle. Bisham is home to another of the English institutes of sport, and the successful Great Britain hockey teams are based here along with many top sport scientists and sports medics. I also spent time speaking to some of the staff at the Southampton soccer club, which has one of the most forward thinking high performance set-ups in British soccer. They are a great example of a sports organization that has achieved a great deal with limited resources through innovative thinking. There are many parallels we can learn from for Cal.
Friday, Aug. 3 - I took the train into London from my base in Wokingham about an hour west the city. I soaked up the Olympic atmosphere, which has been amazing. I've been engrossed in the performance of all of our Golden Bear athletes and coaches past and present while also following Team GB, which is starting to climb the medal table. Fantastic performances by so many nations in so many sports. I spent half a day with Professor Peter Terry, my former psychology mentor. Peter has consulted at nine Olympic Games and for the past 12 years, worked in the Australian sports development system. Although Australia is not having a strong Olympics, the country has a fantastic talent identification and development system, much of which I feel we can use at Cal.
Thursday July 26 - My birthday! The jet lag wasn't so bad. I drove to Cambridge, about an hour north of London, to meet my colleague, John Maddock, who is head of sport at a top community sport college. I'm here to find out how they develop the sporting and educational skills of 14-18-year olds. I met some family and friends for dinner in the evening, including some old bobsled buddies. [Power is a two-time British Olympic bobsled coach.]
Friday, July 27- I drove north about two hours to Loughborough University, the UK's top sports university in terms of sporting and academic success. It's very comparable to Cal. This is the main training camp for the Great Britain training team. I spoke to several athletes and support staff and watched the opening ceremony with them. Wow! Totally awesome!
Sunday, July 29 - I had breakfast with Professor Stuart Biddle, one of the world's most eminent sport, exercise and health research psychologists to discuss how sport and student-athletes partner in research with the university in many departments. Later, I met some members of the Japanese Olympic team training at Loughborough. I drove an hour further north to Sheffield to one of five English Institutes of Sport and spent the rest of day touring facilities and meeting with UK sports chief talent scientist Ian Yates. I learned some really fascinating things about how UK identifies, tracks and develops talent.