From a discussion of golf coach Butch Harmon with Charlie Rose. The Charlie Rose Show, 2012.
You may be asking what does golf have to do with cycling? Well, a lot actually. In fact, I expect that in time cycling will reach the same type of understanding and excellence in terms of technical analysis.
The point is made regarding “raw talent”, that is individuals which show potential but need “polish” to continue improving. That polish is technical; it refers to the details in the quality of movement. There may be a detail in the performance that when polished or corrected can raise the level of performance considerably. We have all come across riders with promise, who for various reasons did not reach that potential. The reasons are varied, but lets provide these athletes and all athletes in fact with the tools to improve. This brings me to a major point, which is that Harmon works with amateur athletes as well. What a great way to better understand the sport and learn teaching techniques from both amateurs and elite golfers.
Raw talent will clearly rise among the ranks, and some will not require coaching in the technical area. But what of the talent who does need that extra bit of input? He makes the point that current athletes appear to be more uniform in their technique, this arises from the teaching methodologies. However, he personally teaches to the individual, retaining what works for the athlete (and some of the quirks of their movement); but that takes great confidence in his coaching abilities, technical knowledge and a mental picture of athletes may have also exhibited those traits. This is the reason for developing a library of cycling performances that coaches can refer to and build greater effectiveness in their coaching practice.
The point is made that elite golfers have no idea what exactly they are doing, and neither do the cyclists. They have a feel for how they do things, but when presented with the video display, there is a mismatch between the two. By the same token, amateurs also have no idea how they perform, much less that their movement patterns are in need of improvement. So, you end up with two drastically different groups in terms of movement patterns, but who are linked only by physiology and technology.
Projecting forward, to the time when an elite athlete decides to coach, under the current system, there is no way he/she can transfer that highly individualized performance to the student athlete. Nor is it clear that you would necessarily want to do that.
Back to the present or future, what is required is the adoption of effective coaching methodologies that address the movement patterns and coaches ready to roll up their sleeves ready to learn.