The ORBITAL Model Of Coaching: NSA Article

THE First Author Credited was the (then) young coach of the great Brasilian 200m sprinter Robson Da Silva. kk

Multidisciplinary Training: The Orbital Model
Monday 9 January 2006
Multidisciplinary Training: The Orbital Model
By Carlos Alberto Cavalheiro , Paulo César Soter da Silveira Jr
Pedro Celso Gagliardi Palermo

Ever improving performance levels and the desire for competitive success have lead to the development of multidisciplinary approaches to preparing athletes. The idea is make specialist knowledge from a variety of fields and disciplines available to assist athletes in achieving their goals. Such an approach is not new and has been used by the medical profession for some time. However, when applied to athletes, the traditional models for managing such as system – the “Filter” model and the “Basic Support” model both have limitations related to the role of the coach. In an attempt to improve the working of such systems, the authors propose a new concept, which they call the “Orbital” model. It is based on the trajectory of an orbiting planet (the athlete), which is surrounded by satellites (professionals) and linked together by rings (coaches/trainers). This whole unit revolves around the sun (the performance goal or objective). Working with a number of high-level Brazilian athletes and in conjunction with the Brazilian Air Force Institute of Science in Physical Activity (Instituto de Ciências da Atividade Física da Aeronáutica – ICAF), the authors have developed a team along the lines of their concept and gain experience it is operation.

Can you even imagine the jockying for position among the “sattelites” if an athlete shows any signs of early success??? What a mess.
Remember that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

It is unfortunate that they feel the need to bring out a new model when there is still a need to properly define the current models that we have. There will be no paradigm shift here. Systems theory has been moving away from linear approaches like this one, (planets, satellites, rings and suns etc., all moving in a predictable orbit with predictable trajectories), and moving towards nonlinear acentric models.

An open biological system, like one that includes an athlete, coach, trainer, therapist, etc, is not functionally reducible to its constituent parts because if there is a change in any one “part”, the effect on the whole is generally not predictable. All of its parts are integrated and part of a highly complex whole.

In order for a program to be successful, there will be multiple levels of control, but ultimately there needs to be only one level of control that interacts with the athlete (one agent)…the coach. As soon as there is more than one agent (another coach, a doctor, a sports psychologist, etc.), the relationship between the controlled (the athlete) and the controller (the agent a.k.a. coach), becomes far too complex for any one individual to perceive. The coach must be able to perceive in the athlete as many variables as possible before relaying information back to the athlete. With life in general, there are enough disturbances feeding into the controlled’s system as it is (family, girlfriend/boyfriend, school, work etc). These disturbances are best perceived and interpreted by one individual and then relayed back to the athlete, but now in accordance with the ultimate goal, which in this case will be a performance improvement in the athlete.

The athlete should be at the very bottom of the control hierarchy, with the coach just above. All of the other controllers should work directly with the coach. The result will be that the coach, the doctor, the physio etc will all receive feedback from the athlete, but it will be the coach who relays the information to the athlete as filtered through the ultimate goal with all the disturbances taken into consideration.

One of the major problems with having only one agent of control that interacts with the athlete, is that that people like to feel special and important, and like to believe that they have some super special and exclusive understanding of whatever field of expertise that they have which nobody else could possibly understand…especially a mere coach. They use jargon in order to feel important and special. An expert in for example will use jargon with his client to make his or herself seem far smarter than they really are, rather than using non-technical terms which the client could easily understand. I will agree that sometimes technical terms are necessary, but when this is the case, if the person knows what they are talking about, a simple explanation is all that is needed in order for the client to understand.

What I am not talking about here is a coach-centered system, or an athlete-centered system, nor any other system with a center. Living dynamical nonlinear systems have no center. They are for the most part groups of systems all working together. The properties that emerge are a result of this interaction.

So, to introduce a new model is, as far as I am concerned, making things more difficult than they already are.

Following up on your biological model, if the coach is the brain, what part of the anatomy would the bureaucrat be?

What type of bureaucrat, the eastern bloc one or the western one? :slight_smile:

Well, the bureaucrat has a parallel in the animal kingdom: the jackass, and one jackass is pretty much like another except for minor variations in colouration and degree of cussedness.
(with apologies to Thomas L Martin: author of Malice in Blunderland)

At the end of the day these are all just models not real life. They are abstractions to help understanding and as far as i am concerned you can theorise all you like (i know i do :wink: ) but all we should care about is the performance… how you get there is a matter of opinion.

Good point Herb about everyone thinking they are special. Its something I pick up on all the time… and obviously the coaches think they are special as well.

Probably right. :slight_smile:

A good book that isn’t as well known as it should be. I’d suggest also Violent sheep: The Tyranny of the Meek, but the people who need to read it are the last ones who would.

In Bureau-land, they are not abstractions, they are the “reality” that they project to other bureaucrats to grow their own bureaucracy, so they can be a bigger cheese and get paid more money (the only basis for pay is the number of people below you). In business, it’s about doing something (making money). In a bureaucracy, it’s about control, appearances and self-promotion (collecting other peoples’ money and spending it on themselves).

In response to what Herb said,

I think that there should be a central role for the coach, He must interpret the information from both the athlete and the expert and consider the variables when applying it to the athlete.

Linier, Orbital are all the same, defined boundaries.

The coach should be dynamic and flexible in his approach, while keeping the goal in mind. The expert has an opinion, the coach has an opinion, the athlete has an opinion and the athlete’s body has an opinion. The difference being is that the athlete’s body’s is always right.

It is the coaches role to improve the mechanism. We must feel the tissues, see the gains, perceive the fatigue and work towards the goal. We push when we can and nurture when we can’t. It is essential to interpret the body, here is the key to knowing when to gain and when to retain.

It is my opinion that a unitary approach is key to the progress of the athlete.

In response to the Bureaucrats,

I think of them more like a sphincter, open at the right time, completely closed during off hours, sometimes they blow allot of hot air just to sound importand, and they are surrounded by fat asses.

Martin is an old Stanford man

Well put on all fronts.