Busting sport myths

2011-12-07 00:00

AS one of the world’s leading sports scientists, Tim Noakes is a household name, whose first book, The Lore of Running, in 1985 changed the way runners prepared for events.

Although a co-author on many subsequent books, this latest publication, guided by Michael Vlismas, a Pretoria-based freelance journalist who provided Noakes with the concept, is set to make its mark across a wide range of sports.

Noakes successfully combines the skeleton of an autobiography with a series of myth-busting stories to intrigue­ and inform all sporting enthusiasts.

From the explanation of why runners (and endurance warriors­) have more to fear from overhydration than dehydration, to the monitoring of and reduction in rugby injuries, Noakes recounts the evolutions that led to major changes in scientific understanding.

The chapter highlighting the basics of development and the means by which Australia turned around its sporting success deserves to be prescribed reading for every coach, official and administrator or person with administrative ambitions. Appreciation of the concepts aired in this book can change not just the perceptions of sport but the actual results and outcomes.

One of the greatest advancements that Noakes has brought to sports science in recent years is his hypothesis on fatigue, and the power and impact of the mind on sporting performance. In showing how the mind calculates and pre-determines the outcome of an event, Noakes has completely revamped previous physiological parameters that were thought to restrict performance. Instead he guides the reader to a clear appreciation that what is in the mind is in the body.

Each busted belief is logically unfolded and statistically supported as the paradigms are changed and evolved into new thinking that provides practical applications for each sport.

Most importantly Noakes unveils the truth and the history behind each challenged belief in a fashion that will keep weekend warriors, coaches and even the TV critic turning the 323 pages.

In his desire to chronicle his journey with sports science, Noakes re-ferences his sporting and intellectual heroes, some of the landmark changes in South African sport and leads us through incidents and the stimulus that led to and answered the questions that changed viewpoints. His style cannot fail to prompt a similar journey and inquisitiveness that will motivate the reader into their own quest for improved performance.

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