There is a difference between absolute and relative statements when talking to all in our profession – ignoring this could cause you to miss opportunities.
The examples I gave you in previous "how to..." posts are are absolute statements. I’ve told you that you should have them. They are told to you to make a point and to begin a conversation between us, or at least between you and another. Very few statements are dogmatically true, in my experience. I will tell you some examples that are variations of the same. For all other dogmatic statements you hear, recognise it as a statement to make a point and to begin a conversation. They always depend. It’s always relative.
Absolutely, “player welfare is our top priority” except when it is superseded by a subjective reason that is more important, made by someone else. I was approached by two military decision makers to help them build a new soldier recovery and rehabilitation system. I’d seen a system work very well in the UK and Germany and I suggested that it could be a beginning point for Australia because it had a track record of success, efficiency and safety. No was the answer. It didn’t suit a subjective reason of somebody else. I was asked how to manage the system of restoring function of soldiers with back injuries. I recounted a system of assessment and intervention in the private sector that I worked for with a return to work rate for those with chronic low back pain that was six times the rate of clients who did not participate. The Major General with the money to implement the program said it wouldn’t happen because it was a direct solution to a direct problem and bureaucratically that wasn’t how the Australian Army worked. Absolutely, the success of returning to work, efficiently and safely, was paramount, except when it was decided that it wasn’t as important as something else.
Absolutely, injury prevention is very serious except when the perception of training hard at the beginning of a pre-season is a better use of time than pre-season evaluation of who was ready for training. Here’s a case study:
Screening and analysis of this team, using the Move2Perform software revealed the following:
This was shown to the coach. Three-quarters of the team needed either individual attention or modified programming. That didn’t happen because pain, injury, limited or asymmetrical movement was not considered important, even though injury prevention was absolutely considered desirable.
The team picture and pie-chart colours were collaborated into the following, to demonstrate that the team was likely to not look the same by season end, due to “reds” and “oranges”:
Still no change to team management of training. This indicated that “safety” was absolutely a priority, but it was relative to how the management didn’t want to do anything different this year. In this population, athletes could be replaced.
A similar approach was taken with the Chinese Women’s Volleyball team. On this occasion, I had a mandate to develop more power and speed in the team. At first, we tested the athletes using a battery of tests and produced a “power quotient”, ranking the athletes. I still used a colour scheme to indicate those in red who, coincidentally, performed the worst and were injured.
Some professionals you work with may not have a taste for safety. They might have a taste for saving money.
The details of that conversation are the relative statements that refine whether or not you have the resources to follow those recommendations. It is often said that “strength underpins everything we do.” An absolute statement. We could argue whether that’s correct or not. There’s no doubt performers need to produce and absorb forces quickly, reactively. The relative statement, borne from the absolute statement, begins with “however”, and continues with it’s not possible to force any more strength out of our athlete’s body’s than our nervous system allows. So, an absolute statement like that is the beginning of a conversation that progresses to suggest that underpinning strength (capacity) is competency of mobility and motor control. Further, underpinning those is the absence of ill-health.
If you are exasperated at absolute statements made by those in positions of influence, remember that they often are the beginnings of conversations, with relative statements borne from your knowledge that all depends on all else. Know that you can take an absolute statement you might disagree with and bring it around to agreement in the three crucial elements of a process – success, efficiency and safety.