Philosophy Principles: What are Your 'Big Rocks'?

February 7, 2018

Coach with athletes, indoor training roomCoaching trees and networks are often described by specific coaching philosophies that are shared. But it is important to discern that philosophies are much more than simply stating “we are an Olympic lifting program” or a “functional based program.” In reality these are descriptions of tactics, not philosophies. Our philosophies are built upon principles and beliefs that create the foundation for these different methodologies or tactics.

On the surface most philosophies are hardly controversial, but it is important to define the key principles of your philosophy that will guide your day to day and hold you accountable. At Sparta, we are best known as a technology platform, utilizing software, force plates, and aggregated data to provide insights into injury risk, performance, and intervention. The product was developed over many years, out of an alignment of health and performance. Perhaps less well known, is the concurrently developed Sparta philosophy.

What is a Philosophy?

Close up of face and hand of The Thinker statuePhilosophies are an approach for making sense out of complexity. They attempt to explain why things are the way they are. Oftentimes a philosophy is based on principles or key “assumptions” that form the foundation of logic for explaining things. From there, logic provides the framework that can be used to organize the complexity. As a result, agreement or disagreement with a philosophy is based on agreement with the key assumptions, and agreement with the logic that forms the framework of understanding. Disagreement can come fully or partially at any of these junctures. Therefore, when we begin to evaluate a philosophy, we have to be sure that we are starting from the beginning – evaluating the key assumptions, and following the framework of logic toward the conclusions.

Human survival is based on the ability to make quick judgements, and often we judge philosophies based on a particular perception of the framework without understanding the key assumptions and underlying logic. Furthermore, our nature is fraught with bias that shapes the way we see the world around us and affects our interpretation of new philosophies. Our judgements and biases are not necessarily a bad thing; they are based on experience, and are an important part of how we effectively navigate our world. However, it is important to be aware of their impact on how we think. If we want to learn and grow, then we need to be alert for new opportunities to expand our philosophy and challenge our biases.

Defining Principles

drawing of water being poured into jar containing rocks, pebbles, and sand

Any philosophy is underpinned by a key set of principles (assumptions) and methods (framework). When evaluating any philosophy, it is important to approach with an open mind, a deep understanding of your own philosophy (biases/judgments), and a desire to learn.

Principles are fundamental beliefs that serve as the foundation for a line of reasoning. We can think of them as the assumptions that back the Sparta coaching philosophy. In an environment where we are rapidly learning, growing, and changing, these principles are the things that are constant and provide context for everything else. Over the next few weeks we will cover the each of the principles of the Sparta philosophy: assessment, intent, and creating a systems based approach to health and performance. If you are familiar with the big rocks, pebbles, sand and water analogy, these principles should be thought of as the “big rocks” of our coaching philosophy. They create the foundation around which the pebbles, sand, and water need to fit.

Sparta Philosophy Principles:

  1. Assessment
  2. Intent
  3. Systems approach

In the coming weeks we will discuss in depth these key principles. Subscribe to our blog below to make sure you don’t miss out!

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