Going For Gold with Keith Antoine

Nick Gold 1 April 2019

A few months ago, I sat down with the Olympic and Paralympic athletics coach, Keith Antoine , as part of my 'In Conversation With' series. You can watch the whole video here !

I thought it would be good to share some snippets of Keith's insights. With 15 years experience as a coach, and a track record of his athletes winning medals, he's picked up a thing or two about winning!

I was dying to ask him about his thoughts on technology versus technique in sport. From football and cricket, to athletics and field events, there is new equipment on offer with every competition. The race for further technical development remains steady, particularly in the Paralympic arena. With exciting and innovative changes made to sporting technology, and an increase in its availability, it can be tempting to place a dominating focus on equipment. I had felt recently that technology was taking over technique in sport dialogue. Here's what Keith had to say on the matter:

Keith's approach was traditional, and made a strong case for the importance of technique. First and foremost, it is the only consistent tool for an athlete. Whilst the availability of technology - be it through lines equipment, or blades for running - may differ throughout an athlete's career, their technique will carry them through to the end. With the technique nailed, athletes have the space and time to explore new technologies, but shiny new inventions should not take priority over the reliable, 'old school' technique training.

And now, whilst I'm far from an athlete myself, I was starting to sense some parallels in the way Keith spoke about sport, with how we conceptualise business. Like sport, business demands tenacity, training, and an innate desire to keep improving. In business we have to constantly ask ourselves if we are doing things as efficiently as we can, and are we yielding the best possible results. Are our goals high enough? Are the team empowered to reach their targets? The snippet below succinctly summarises how Keith draws similarities between the two areas.

Despite Keith's affiliation for traditional, technique-focused training, he is passionate about the opportunities afforded by data. With a data-driven approach to both sport and business, Keith praises the ability to plan more effectively and in greater detail. With an increased access to data, both athletes and business leaders can plot their targets year on year, using statistics to set well-informed and ambitious targets. A well-versed plan means greater opportunity to strive for peak performance which, for Keith, is always the goal.

Sitting and picking Keith's brains was fascinating. Whether it's performance improvement, or team management, his expertise weave their way into facets of life and business in such an interesting way. He pertinently acknowledged the strengths of both traditional training methods and modern data-driven approaches, proving that using multiple approaches can work to our advantage. His ideas were broadly applicable to business, but I also thought they could be translated to conceptualising mindset.

Although we live in an incredibly fast-paced world, with masses of new technology, apps and data available at our fingertips, it can be useful to occasionally take a step back. If we assess the features we would rely on without these digital assistants - like sleep, fresh air, and speaking up - we can strengthen ourselves, and make space to receive technological advancement.

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