SP Archives: Superstars


Steve wrote: Something Luciano posted (which isn’t new, a lot of people have said it) about me being some ‘new species’ or genetic freak, has sparked off a memory.

In Earlham Street in the early days, early 1970s, there was a tv programme called Superstars. And guys were coming in and telling me how these super athletes, football, rugby, whatever, how many pullups they were doing, how many this and that they were doing on this show. I’m somebody who’s never really been that impressed by that shit, because I could do thousands of situps, thousands of squats, hundreds of pushups.

So I made a list and put it up on the wall. On the list were all the exercises that I believed were challenging and worth doing. Things like tricep dips, squats, skipping, situps, pressups—whole bunch of shit. And they went over and looked at it and said, ‘What’s this?’

I said, ‘You’re all going to stick some money in a kitty, and we’re going to see who comes out top on the overall board.’

Within a week, these guys were doing twice as much as what the athletes on Superstars were doing. And a couple of guys, I had to switch the lights off and close the gym because he’d been doing situps for three hours and refused to stop. Another guy was skipping for around three and a half hours.

Never ever mentioned fucking Superstars again. Now they were all superstars in their own right.

You set yourself a challenge, you put something at stake, you’d be surprised what you can do.

Jon Law wrote: Great stuff! Thats really Sport psych wihtout the frills, without the bullshit, without the side arguements over unecessary shit, applied intutitively.

Goal setting theory involves setting challenging but achievable goals made public. The challenging/achievable bit is subjective, of course, but as you say set some stakes (meaningful incentive) make the goal challenging and you can achieve.

Because, Steve, you are so free of limitations, ie. you believe there are no absolutes, you are not restrained and so your application of Sport Pscyh/Science is not limited by current threory etc, simlar to you MA expectations. So you can apply stuff far more effectively than the vast majority of professors of sport science et al. They tend to be wrapped in theory and scientific arguement rather than application and besides the scientific process is, by definition slow, methodic and usually less open to any kind of risk-taking. Also you have a better imagination than those people, well the majority i’ve met.

In my experience it tends to be the more freaky ones (Sport scientists) that are the more innovative, the ones that stand out from the mold, but im drifting off the point.

Anyway, goal setting works, fact. Add in a bit of imagination and belief and you’re away. The achieveable/challenging bit is key. I have a friend who has ME he can barely get out of bed a lot of the time. His challenge is to go down the road to the shops. He was telling me that he’s sick to death of his life, which invovles going to the shops and very little else.

I explained a bit of goal setting theory to him, the other day, if his goal is to go to the shops thats all he will achieve. Its like banging yer head against a brick wall dealing with depressed people, they always have an excuse to do nothing. Anyway, he went to see some bands the other day and went round another mates after, thats a real big deal for him.

Point is we can only reach the goals we set, if they are low, we get low performance outcomes, if they are high we get high performance outcomes.

Steve is good at dragging stuff out of you you didn’t think was possible. I always thought i was physically slow, naturally. A plodder, more suited to jogging than sprinting. But one thing I’ve improved so much is speed of movement, I’m no Linford Christie but I can move loads better than before I came across Steve thats for sure. Previously, I was convinced i was slow, now I know different.

I once read about a blind bloke who sailed round the Cape of Good Hope, amazing, nothign wrong with his goal-setting. Reach for the sky, you may just get there……

Pullup Pastor wrote: Steve what exercises would make your list nowadays?

Steve wrote: It really was the challenge and not the exercises. My challenge today is to persuade people that they’re capable of becoming just like that guy they see up on You Tube. Whether it’s Anderson Silva or whoever. Don’t relegate yourself to second-best.

That sometimes happens when you have a dominant instructor who you worship. A lot of people build up their instructor and then they can never get past him. In Earlham Street, we had novices knocking out visiting black belts. And I’d bet you any money a lot of those black belts were instructors. Somebody’s hero. And the same would be true today.

It’s the fight in the dog, and I try to bring that fight out of you. In any way I can.