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September 07, 2006

Clive Woodward

Speaking of Chris Dillow, wonder what he’ll make of this wondrous piece of manager speak:

Woodward, 50, said: "It's a privilege to be joining the BOA at such an exciting time for British Olympic sport. I will use my experiences in high-performance sport to assist the 35 Olympic sports to achieve their aspirations and, working in partnership with UK Sport, national governing bodies and performance directors, ensure the performance of Team GB is maximised. Working with our elite coaches and athletes is tremendously exciting for me."

This will make them all run faster?

I can just about imagine that this sort of stuff works in a team sport, where the point is to weld disparate people and styles into, well, a team, but I just can’t quite see it in something like Olympic sports. With an exception or two they’re all about individual performance, aren’t they?

September 7, 2006 in Sports | Permalink


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[This will make them all run faster?]

basically yes. Woodward is not a good manager or motivator, as was shown by the fiasco of his Lions tour. His big success with England was to take a very talented England team, and to raise the level of their conditioning and training to Southern Hemisphere levels - so that they were strong and fit enough to avoid the traditional collapse in the last fifteen minutes and to hold the line so that Wilkinson could rack up the penalty points.

I don't know whether he is currently on the cutting edge of sports science or whether this is a good or bad appointment, but it's not in principle a daft idea. The difference between good and bad coaching is both measurable and manageable.

Posted by: dsquared | Sep 7, 2006 9:01:50 AM

I think D2's right. In theory, Sir Clive might be able to raise standards of fitness coaching and psychological preparation. There are some technical coaching skills which transfer across sports.
However, it's an open question whether Sir Clive can or will do this. What we know is that his effort to transfer his skills (whatever they are) into football failed. So why should he do better in athletics?

Posted by: chris | Sep 7, 2006 9:23:13 AM

Credit where it's due, I think dsquared summed up Woodward's previous success rather nicely there.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Sep 7, 2006 1:25:06 PM

These comments would make more sense if they acknowledged what Woodward's respective roles with England rugby, the Lions, and football, actually were. Each of the three was quite different from the others. Do you choose to define him as a success with England rugby because of the World Cup, or one who became a success after failures in the same role in '99 and in the infamous down-under tour in which a young, inexperienced England side lost all of its matches by huge margins? Do you use the Lions Tour to write him off completely?
As for football, it would be more accurate to say that his attempts to bring in new ideas were simply blocked and ignored - the chance for them to fail would be welcome. The management team responsible for this farsighted response to the challenge Woodward posed, Redknapp and Bassett, were too busy with their own success in getting Southampton relegated, then marooned in the Championship, to pay attention to anything Woodward might have had to offer.
Olympic events might be individual affairs, but the preparation for them is not and hasn't been for a long time - the swimmers are coached centrally, so are most of the sprinters, and overall British Olympic training has had a high degree of coordination for a very long time. There's a great deal of crossover - and not just between Olympic sports. Paula Radcliffe would recognise quite a few features in the training routine of a Josh Lewsey, for instance. The fitness training of footballers used to resemble the endurance training of boxers - it's now better compared to that of sprinters. And so on.

Posted by: James Hamilton | Sep 7, 2006 3:57:50 PM

[The fitness training of footballers used to resemble the endurance training of boxers - it's now better compared to that of sprinters]

? the "endurance training of boxers" is very similar to that of sprinters - the days of 50 mile a week roadwork are long gone, ever since someone noticed that few boxing matches are fought in rounds of forty minutes.

The Lions team was "young and inexperienced" and was always bound to get tanked, but it is not just from the results that we deduce that the team was falling apart and Woodward was living in a dangerous fantasy-world; several of the players gave interviews basically saying this. The man brought Alastair Campbell on the tour, FFS.

Posted by: dsquared | Dec 6, 2006 12:26:48 PM