By Schwan Humes
“If Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson have them then we are going to have them.”
These were the words spoken by Tom Hermann, new head coach at the University of Texas, and what he was discussing was outside consultants and analysts that high profile teams use to provide them with the extra information, perspective, and insight that often makes the difference between being the best of the best and being the best of the rest. Hermann’s words aren’t a rarity, not in the world of traditional college and professional sports; in fact, this is something that the very best and those who aspire to be the very best do.
Outside consulting and analysis is essentially allowing another set of eyes to examine a problem or obstacle. In the case of combat sports, this would be defined as an opponent. Getting an individual or group of individuals to research said opponent in hope of finding something that a fighter’s camp may have overlooked or missed would provide an independent perspective that could support or go against the thoughts of coaches/camps regarding lines of attack, countermeasures, and alternative routes to victory. The value of this is self-explanatory. An educated source of information would be provided on behalf of the fighter to assist the coaching staff and the game plan they have laid out for a fighter to follow.
Regardless of the experience of the coaching staff, the number of champions, contenders, prospects, and journeymen they have produced individually or as a whole, a coach doesn’t always know best, nor does he or she see every angle needed to properly assess and counter every threat. All coaches, even the forward thinking ones, have a system, a philosophy or structure in how they approach things, how they figure them out, and how they solve them. I am not saying that this is bad, as it’s often part of becoming a consistent and efficient coach or camp that produces high value athletes. But the same thing that inspires, develops, and refines greatness can also be the very thing that can limit how great your program and the athletes in it can or will be because of your method or way.
Regardless of how good your approach is, once you have one, you develop a sort of predictability; you provide opposing coaches and fighters a legitimate starting point in how they assess, act and react to you. The voice of an outsider, one that you may respect, but is in no way married to your way of doing things, allows you to think outside of the box by leaning on the point of view provided by someone who is looking to win period, not in a certain manner or using a certain process.
“King” Mo Lawal. (If you listen closely you may hear a familiar name around the 3:10-3:15 mark. Hint: he wrote this article.)
Consultants and analysts are outside sources of information used to provide perspective and information that a coach or camp may not have immediate access to. This information can help contribute to a fighter’s success when dealing with a specific opponent, when having to deal with a short notice change in opposition, or worse yet, a fighter who is an unknown quantity on the big stage in MMA. As Greg Jackson said in Countdown: Penn vs. Rodriguez, “It’s all about innovation, getting as much information from as many good people as possible; the more you can pull in, the stronger you will be.”
In the second part of this article, we will discuss the obstacles that keep outside consultation and analysis from being a regular part of the sport of mixed martial arts, here’s a hint: it starts with the letter “M” and almost every name fighter is looking for more of it.
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