It would have been easy for Adam Peaty, multiple gold medals around his not insubstantial neck, to get complacent, take it a touch easier, or perhaps lose a little focus or motivation in the weeks and months after the 2016 Olympic Games and 2017 FINA World Championships. There are multiple examples of champions across all manner of disciplines who peak and then dip, however fractionally. Sometimes this is only measurable in tenths or hundredths, near-imperceptible differences; often it is sub-conscious.
As Peaty explains in our latest cover story, however, one simple phrase was all it took for the British swimmer to ‘go again’ and dedicate himself to achieving ever-greater heights: “I’ve come this far, why not push on again?”
A simple question has spawned a solid strategy. The practicalities of ‘going again’ included Peaty and coach Mel Marshall, herself a former British Olympic swimmer, developing ‘Project 56’, a name reflecting the world record holder’s ambition to achieve a sub-56 second 100m breaststroke. Rooted in the idea that “the minute you stand still is the minute you’ll be overtaken”, the project is now Peaty’s guiding force. It’s also a constant reminder of the target.
As Peaty sets out on the road to the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics, thousands of winter Olympians are coming to the end of their own particular ‘projects’, four-year (at minimum) programmes designed and refined to ensure they peak in PyeongChang in February. The science and structure of those projects will, of course, have taken inspiration from all sorts of sports, disciplines and walks of life.
This edition of Performance follows a similar lead, examining strategies, techniques, programmes and case studies from a variety of organisations: from Peaty’s story to the Fire Department of New York, Cricket Australia to Huddersfield Town. Our hope, as always, is there’ll be something within these pages that helps inform your next project.