US isn’t competitive in medal chase at Tokyo 2020 because…

estarzinger

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Spoke to a guy last night who was on the US sailing team in years past and he told me there is only one reason why UK is winning and US is not and it is lottery funding. 
well - what about say Australia and Netherlands medals?

And even if it was true (which I dont believe it is) - it is just not all that helpful an observation because it is not a realistic path forward for USSailing to get huge government hand-out (our tax and powerball money should be put to better purposes). 

USSailing should ofc look for more funding - if they wanted to follow the 'flood it with cash' strategy . . . . they could aim to find 4 rich guys to give them $5m/year each - would be a drop in the bucket for some of the billionaires. But if they want to accomplish that they need different staff - some guys with rolodexes and closing skills - which they have never had. They dont know how to do this.

But money is just a facilitator - it seems pretty obvious that they dont know how to recruit and they dont know how to coach - money thrown against a lack of skill and knowledge is just a waste. You can build champions without boat loads of money - yea sure it is harder.

Just looking at the UK money and saying 'we cant win because we dont have their lottery money' is simply defeatist - it is NOT how a winning organization would look at it - a winning organization would find a way to win - it is what champions do.

 
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enigmatically2

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There is no doubt that the lottery funding has helped the UK olympics performance overall. But as estarzinger said, money on its own is not the explanation. It does not explain why the US is not in Silver or Bronze behind the UK. 

I think if you look at the quotes from the US 4x100m Sprint relay team after they got knocked out you may get a clue from a very different sport

"How much have you practiced the relay"?

Team member 1: "I don't know"

Team member 2: "not much"

In the old days the US sprinters may have had enough depth and speed to still win in the old days, but that sort of amateur attitude won't get them on the podium now. The world has moved on. Athletes in all countries have got more professional - and in a team way. The cross-feeds from competitors within a sport and even between sports has massively increased. This shows up especially in events like team triathlon, relays - 

Funding can help but I think US sailing needs an attitude change

 

Tcatman

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Spot on gohawks - all three need to be addressed, and as Cayard said in the ABC news article - it's training 1) Training the expectations (killer mindset for success) of the sailor, parents, coaches, and supporters 2) Training in the right kind of boat in the right format  3) Training in the right locations, right regattas, trial partners, and right plan for growth and success.    As a former coach, we aren't starting soon enough (like hockey or soccer), and are therefore trying to cram too much in too fast, in the wrong boats, without really thinking about the end game.  
Merchant, I agree completely.    could you say some more about the criteria for coaching qualifications and record of accomplishments needed for each of these training regimes.   It seems to me that the first thing to address is what do we need in the coaching ranks for those levels.      For example,  Sally Barkow coaching a Nacra Foiling 17 team seems off to me unless the coaching needed is at the level of sports psychology.

 
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USSailing should ofc look for more funding - if they wanted to follow the 'flood it with cash' strategy . . . . they could aim to find 4 rich guys to give them $5m/year each - would be a drop in the bucket for some of the billionaires. But if they want to accomplish that they need different staff - some guys with rolodexes and closing skills - which they have never had. They dont know how to do this.
Honestly, I'm very surprised how little some of our elite give to olympic sailing - given how much they poach from the olympic ranks. The owners of the newport 12's, rambler, belle, devos, J-Class, etc. Combined, they could easily cover a quad for probably less than the lot of them spend to get their boats to a single regatta. I'm not sure if it's interest on their side, lack of proper channels to support the team, lack of marketing and push from USSOT, etc. Hell, even some of the owners I've sailed with could give five digit donations and not miss it. Of course... I could probably give four digit donations and not miss it, and have failed to do so... So what's that say. 

 
I think people overlook how much dinghy sailing is a multi generational family thing in the UK and probably with other successful sailing nations.  I suspect that most of the medal winning GBR sailors have parents closely involved in dinghy racing.  

In the classes that I am involved many of the successful sailors are third generation … they are literally steeped in sailing.

So give these kids professional support and resources enabled by lottery funding and this is a powerful combination.

I believe this is just not limited to sailing, probably applies to cycling, horsey things and quite a few other sports.

 

Tcatman

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The N17 was upgraded to full foiling this quad.  Boat speed and handling were going to be new skills to all of the sailing team and perhaps a US coach with experience in high performance boats would be more useful then a college dinghy racer with  a match racing keel boat medal.  Alternatively, you could hire a coach with a track record of growing the performance of multiple sailors with at lease some scoring podium finishes internationally.  For example, the US Olympic basketball selects Gregg Popovich and not any number of gold medal winning all star ball players and now coaches   eg Patrick Ewing, or Tim Duncan to coach in Tokyo

 

Tcatman

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they could easily cover a quad for probably less than the lot of them spend to get their boats to a single regatta. I'm not sure if it's interest on their side, lack of proper channels to support the team,
Um...perhaps they want control and not just needed to stroke the check?   Clean referenced the newport mafia as part of Page's problem. ..... ie  a close knit cabal that wants to call the shots but not own the result of their dated thinking.   I think Public Funding  is key feature of the Brit system.   The money is the publics and not Sir XXX's inheritence and so he can't directly screw up the leadership.   Certainly the powers that be can select the wrong leader but the Brits seemed to have promoted their leadership from within rather then take a flyer on the idiosyncratic choice of a few rich guys who want the acknowledgment for saving British sailboat racing.    

 

enigmatically2

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The N17 was upgraded to full foiling this quad.  Boat speed and handling were going to be new skills to all of the sailing team and perhaps a US coach with experience in high performance boats would be more useful then a college dinghy racer with  a match racing keel boat medal.  Alternatively, you could hire a coach with a track record of growing the performance of multiple sailors with at lease some scoring podium finishes internationally.  For example, the US Olympic basketball selects Gregg Popovich and not any number of gold medal winning all star ball players and now coaches   eg Patrick Ewing, or Tim Duncan to coach in Tokyo
But why did you pick on her rather than any of the other coaches. After all the Nacra was one of your best results. There is lots she could have coached beside psychology: tactics, sail control, fitness for example. 

 

Tcatman

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But why did you pick on her rather than any of the other coaches. After all the Nacra was one of your best results. There is lots she could have coached beside psychology: tactics, sail control, fitness for example. 
She was the coach that I saw they referenced in the one video clip of the team... (they loved her BTW per them).  The staff US coaches are Carpenter (head) or Barkow.   I know they bring in "experts" for a couple of weeks of training camps and I question that philosophy as well.

As for picking on a coach.... in america... we always fire the coach before the player..... a head must always roll.    Setting that reaction aside... My question is... does the US know what to look for in Olympic  and Developmental coaches and do we execute this philosophy..... OR  do we take a star who wants to coach and make it so?

Now, I could be way off base on just how important coaching is for this level of boat racing...but someone with credibility would have to make that argument.

 

enigmatically2

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So with no real reason to pick on her it sounded either personal or misogynistic. A good coaching setup (like the Brits) would have a variety of specialist coaches. I'm sure the yanks team do too. Remember that the best sportsman are always coached by people who aren't as good as them. But the best coaches can still improve the best

 

martin 'hoff

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So with no real reason to pick on her it sounded either personal or misogynistic. A good coaching setup (like the Brits) would have a variety of specialist coaches. I'm sure the yanks team do too. Remember that the best sportsman are always coached by people who aren't as good as them. But the best coaches can still improve the best
The coaches for the top foiling teams - Presti, Willcox, etc - aren't foiling champs themselves. They do have too foiling talent in the squad - Bora for example.

Seems premature to pick on their coach.

 

Tcatman

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A good coaching setup (like the Brits) would have a variety of specialist coaches. I'm sure the yanks team do too.
"I'm sure"....   is not the same answer as the yanks have hired the right  laser starting coach..  or the most likely to figure it out  N17 go fast coach etc etc.

Remember that the best sportsman are always coached by people who aren't as good as them. But the best coaches can still improve the best
Well.... we have Big NAMES.....with Medals..... do we have COACHES?   that is the question.

Most of the thread is US agita over the pipeline being less then optimal and the sailing system managing a Corinthian structure of collegiate racing is a major problem or Money .....   It seems to me that these issues COULD be managed.  Who knows, perhaps the quirks of the US system could have a neutral impact  but ONLY if you have the right coaching leadership at the critical steps.

I don't know and can't evaluate the US cast of coaches.. but the results are not there quad after quad.  So... does the US hire coaches..... or do they hire coaches who know how to coach winning olympians in xx class?  (2 of the 10 US Olympic staff are coaches)

How about .. is there a consensus that the US Coaching staff (Carpenter and Barkow and the training camp contracters) of the last three quads is average.... good enough .... or top shelf?

(So with no real reason to pick on her it sounded either personal or misogynistic)  REALLY!?  that is on you

 

F18 Sailor

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The coaches for the top foiling teams - Presti, Willcox, etc - aren't foiling champs themselves. They do have too foiling talent in the squad - Bora for example.

Seems premature to pick on their coach.
I’m pretty sure Barkow was the provided coach for the Olympic event only. For the previous 2+ years, the U.S Nacra contingent have had an experienced high performance coach at the big events and during practice.

I do think coaching is one of the areas that should be looked at closely, and I suspect one of the initiatives Malcom laid out but ran out of $$$ and/or political capital to implement.

 
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SimonN

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Spoke to a guy last night who was on the US sailing team in years past and he told me there is only one reason why UK is winning and US is not and it is lottery funding. 
And there, in one sentence, is the problem in the USA. Clueless. As others have said, why isn't the USA holding its own against other countries that don't have lottery funding?

Then consider the foundations before getting anywhere near the Olympic squad. Looking at Team GBR, 8 out of 10 helms and 4 out of 5 medalists got medals at youth level, either at the ISAF youth worlds or in 420, 29er or Laser radial. I think only Riley Gibbs of the USA team had done that (and that was as a crew). And it's not just the Brits who have built their Olympic team around that early success. Australia and NZ as well, with names like Outeridge and Belcher, Burling, Aleh and Tuke (he actually competed for Australia when he won the 29er worlds as a crew). All those guys knew how to put together a world class campaign well before going into the Olympic system but here is the key, or at least as far as the Brits go - by the time you enter the Olympic squad set up, you already know how to campaign, what is expected of you and you fit straight in. Even then, you are in the development squad with dedicated staff to ensure you make the transition from youth sailing. In other words, the pathway and how it is managed and supported is critical.

The other thing to note is the succession of sailors and coaches in Team GBR. Many of the coaches and support staff are past Olympians - you have to be pretty exceptional to get a position if you aren't. Look at people like double Olympic medalist Ian Walker as Director of Racing for the RYA who was in Tokyo, or Joe Glanfield, double Olympic medalist who was coaching the women's 470, or Iain Percy, 3 times a medalist who was coaching the Nacra 17, even the person looking after all the boats was a 2 times medalist. And the list goes on. Past team members who are brought into the coaching are taught how to coach - the same happens in Australia. there is no assumption that they know how to do it. All of this makes a huge difference in the continued success of the team, but they still managed to get initial success without those ex Olympians.

So money helps, but there is so much more than that. If the USA got the money tomorrow, it would still take 2 or 3 cycles to get results as you cannot put the pieces in place overnight, and the person who told them that, and was employed to lead them through those cycles, got fired for poor immediate results.

 

SimonN

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That's very interesting. Can you tell a bit more, if you can and if it's not national secret? ;) What kind of data did they use as an input?

Thanks!


There have been a lot of these sorts of studies.  Many of the results can be a bit squishy and hard to generalize since we are looking for unique individuals. Here is one of the latest ones:
That sort of study is completely different from what Team GBR looked at. I don't want to say too much, because I am out of date, my memory might not be so good because it was some time ago and I am not sure I ever saw everything. However, what I can say is that the research looked at selection criteria. Here is some easy stuff, which probably seems obvious. Somebody who has won a medal before is far more likely to win a medal again over somebody who has not. Somebody who has been to the Olympics is far more likely to medal than somebody who hasn't been to the Olympics. Therefore, the selection criteria favours the medalist first, olympians second and yes, it is far harder for somebody to get selected if their opposition is a past Olympian or medalist, but, because of an statistical understanding of what is going on, criteria can be established to allow for that and ensure the best person goes. Ultimately, if you have never been to the Olympics but always beat a past medalist at the key regattas, you will get selected. 

Then there is the issue of when you get selected. For each type of competitor (medalist, Olympian, newbie) there appears to be an ideal time. You are more likely to hear that the Brits have selected too soon because one of the others might improve in the remaining time, but as we see, the formula works. Then there's choosing the right regattas as an indicator of performance. I think this is one of the big differences between the Brits and others.

Then there is understanding what type of sailing is worth focusing on. Consider that in only 1 out of the 10 classes did the world no.1 win the gold. This is not uncommon. Therefore choosing regattas based on the world cup tour is pointless. How often do I hear people surprised at Brits missing what many consider major regattas. Knowing what regattas are the best predictors of Olympic success is critical.

 

estarzinger

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the research looked at selection criteria.
It would be interesting to read the McKinsey study that was done for USSailing last year.  They 'should have' looked at/analyzed selection criteria and best practices, and it is the sort of analytics that is up their wheelhouse . . . but those sorts of pro bono studies are often not staffed with their sharpest knives.

I currently provide analytical coaching support to selection decisions in a different, more physical sport.

It is a bit easier, because we can screen out 90% of the candidates simply based on numbers.

5% don't have the numbers but there are indications this is because of poor training/coaching and we can give those candidates 6 months of guidance and see if they can in fact hit the targets.

There is a significant skill component to winning (both functional skills and when and how to make your move) vs athletes with similar numbers, but we believe that is teachable.  All we need to do is assess whether the candidate can learn and we do detailed assessments of prior races - not whether they win but whether they grow smarter.  

That should give us top 10 potential candidates who can win on their best days - and then there is the matter of "heart of a champion"  - can they find a way to win on an off day or against someone better suited to the conditions or to overcome similar disadvantage. Again - we can deep dive on their history and see how they have responded to set-backs and disadvantages - did they coast or even give up or did they try to overcome in a brute force way, or in a smart way (even if they did not win).

There is significant coaching value thru all these steps but of quite different nature and content.  And even at the basic physical level there is significant different in value/results between 'good national coaches' 'best in the world coaches'.   And that gap grows as you move down the chain.

The age factor is probably much easier than in sailing because there is a definite physical peak point and we need candidates to be at the right age to learn/develop and then peak for their/our target.

edit: ofc this is the perspective from the analytical guy - there are people in the process who evaluate softer issues or the same issues in a softer way.

 
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dogwatch

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I think people overlook how much dinghy sailing is a multi generational family thing in the UK and probably with other successful sailing nations.  I suspect that most of the medal winning GBR sailors have parents closely involved in dinghy racing.  
Yes. For instance, GBR 470 women crew (Gold medal) is the daughter of a Gold Star medallist. GBR Bronze medallist in windsurfers is daughter of an ex-Olympic windsurfer and best known female windsurfer of her generation.  

Lottery money certainly helps but I think the relative accessibility of dinghy sailing in the UK plays a part too.  

 

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