No, this is not another article on how to run the play Power. Instead, this is about something much more powerful within the game. And that’s understanding power laws.
This is the first post here on Rooski. The goal of this article is to both introduce you to power laws and to introduce you to the thinking of Rooski. We want to explore the game of football beyond what the traditional mindset has been for the last several decades for the majority of coaches.
One of our big focuses will be understanding mental models and how they apply to the game of football. An absolute incredible source for understanding what mental models are is Farnam Street, produced by Shane Parrish. You can look at all of his listed models here.
So, what is a power law?
A functional relationship between two quantities, where a relative change in one quantity results in a proportional relative change in the other quantity, independent of the initial size of those quantities: one quantity varies as a power of another.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_law
Here is Shane explaining it in a way most of us football coaches can understand:
Consider a person who begins weightlifting for the first time.
During their initial sessions, they can lift only a small amount of weight. But as they invest more time, they find that for each training session, their strength increases a surprising amount.
For a while, they make huge improvements. Eventually, however, their progress slows down. At first, they could increase their strength by as much as 10% per session; now it takes months to improve by even 1%. Perhaps they resort to taking performance-enhancing drugs or training more often. Their motivation is sapped and they find themselves getting injured, without any real change in the amount of weight they can lift.
Now, let’s imagine that our frustrated weightlifter decides to take up running instead. Something similar happens. While the first few runs are incredibly difficult, the person’s endurance increases rapidly with the passing of each week, until it levels off and diminishing returns set in again.
Both of these situations are examples of power laws — a relationship between two things in which a change in one thing can lead to a large change in the other, regardless of the initial quantities. In both of our examples, a small investment of time in the beginning of the endeavor leads to a large increase in performance.https://fs.blog/2017/11/power-laws/
If this is all true, and I certainly believe it to be, then we could be waisting an incredible amount of time as football coaches. So many of us spend an incredible amount of time on the same things. Two of the biggest time consumers are lifting and practices. Yes, when players first start in your lifting program, or in your systems on the field, they need that repetitive nature to get better. However, eventually there will be a plateau, and power laws suggest that it may be better to move on to something else, or to begin the whole process by working on additional things.
But it’s not just about working on anything else. You have to discover what matters.
While there is value in the discovery process, once you’ve found the variable that matters most, you should place more time on that one and less on the others. The importance of finding this variable cannot be overstated.
One of my main points is that there are other things we could be working on, in addition to lifting and practicing, that could exponentially affect our results on the field. Things like nutrition, mindset, awareness, intuition, service, etc.
Below are some of the other notes I took on Shane’s post. You can read the entire article on Power Laws here to gain more understanding.
We know this state, of course, as diminishing returns: the point where more input yields progressively less output. Not only is the relationship between training mileage and endurance not linear to begin with, but it also gets less linear as we increase our training.
Nonlinear relationships are more complicated. In these cases, you don’t need twice as much of the original value to get twice the increase in some measurable characteristic.
One of the characteristics of a complex system is that the behavior of the system differs from the simple addition of its parts. This characteristic is called emergent behavior.
When we set out to understand a complex system, our intuition tells us to break it down into its component pieces. But that’s linear thinking, and it explains why so much of our thinking about complexity falls short. Small changes in a complex system can cause sudden and large changes. Small changes cause cascades among the connected parts, like knocking over the first domino in a long row.
There is only one power law with a variable exponent, and it’s considered to be one of the most powerful forces in the universe. It’s also the most misunderstood. We call it compounding.
If each word in a language were listed in order of frequency of usage, the further we moved down the list, the less useful a word would be. (Think about skills)
Suppose you’re doing an experiment in a lab. You’re trying to figure out a natural secret. But every night another person comes into the lab and messes with your results. You won’t understand what’s going on if you confine your thinking to the nature side of things. It’s not enough to find an interesting experiment and try to do it. You have to understand the human piece too.
The Law of Diminishing Returns – As we have seen, a small change in one area can lead to a huge change in another. However, past a certain point, diminishing returns set in and more is worse. Working an hour extra per day might mean more gets done, whereas working three extra hours is likely to lead to less getting done due to exhaustion.Shane Parrish – https://fs.blog/2017/11/power-laws/