In the newest issue of Atlantic Magazine Robert Kaplan wrote an article about the historian Herodotus. Kaplan is the Distinguished Visiting Professor in National security at the United States Naval Academy and a regular contributor to Atlantic. The quote below jumped out at me as particularly relevant. This pinpoints a major problem that we have today in medicine, athletic development, athletic training, for that matter in everyday life.

"In the academy (Naval Academy), specialization has become both a necessity and a curse. Too much narrow expertise is the inverse of wisdom. But the explosion of facts that need to be categorized demands a growing number of parochial subdivisions within any given field. We must fight against the tendency to become, as the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset feared we all would, “learned ignoramuses.”

Today I see more people specializing in narrower and narrower areas. I am so thankful for the guidance that received early in my coaching career that steered me toward being a generalist. My specialty is as a generalist. When I wanted to become a track coach, Red Estes, then the assistant track coach at Fresno State suggested that I train for the Decathlon, that way I would learn all the events. I would experience it first hand. That was the best advice I received. It allowed me to make to connections, to question some of the conventional wisdom in each individual event. I definitely found out what worked and did not work quickly. I learned how to be efficient in my use of training time. I learned the importance of intensity. Today it seems everyone wants to be a distance coach. I watch the distance coaches at the USAT&F Level III schools and they act like the other events have the plague. This is a great example of an event group that needs to go to the jumps and sprints to understand the broader dimensions of training. The same can be said about many areas, too many strength coaches only know strength. I am shocked to find out how many strength coaches have NEVER gone to talk to the track coaches at their schools. Get out and see and experience the world. Do not be afraid to explore what you don’t know. Know what you know and do not know. Get off the internet and read, read journals in all fields not just athletic development. It is amazing what you will learn.


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