Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 157 - Dr. Jeremy Bettle

Being Performance Director. It essentially means that you’re responsible for everything that touches the athlete away from the sport. So of course it bleeds onto the field a ton with the conditioning, the preparedness for the game and all that sort of stuff. So we start everything from rehab, medical care.
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 157 - Dr. Jeremy Bettle

[00:00:00] Being Performance Director. It essentially means that you’re responsible for everything that touches the athlete away from the sport. So of course it bleeds onto the field a ton with the conditioning, the preparedness for the game and all that sort of stuff. So we start everything from rehab, medical care. We brought in a new hospital group last year, and so onboarding physicians and all that sort of stuff, all of the nutrition, the sort of extended rehab, all of the injury prevention.

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Jesse: [00:01:28] Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host Jesse Funk. My guest today has his PhD in human performance. He’s worked in a number of sports across the Leagues, including the NCAA, the NBA, the NHL recently in MLS at NYCFC, where he was a performance director. Currently, he’s a director of performance science at Northstarr. Welcome to the show, Dr. Jeremy Bettle.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:01:51] Jesse, thanks a lot for having me on me.

Jesse: [00:01:53] Yeah, absolutely. Thanks. Thanks for joining me. So if you’re just listening to the audio version, you’re missing that Jeremy still got his NYCFC hat on, which I don’t I don’t see that I’ve got this temptation to run in my other run in the other room and grab my crates of Wizards hat from my 2007 season ticket holders. So I haven’t updated to the sporting cap, but they’re obviously having a real tough year this year. So we’ll pass that conversation.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:02:22] Right, right.

Jesse: [00:02:24] But I didn’t know. So when I was getting ready to talk with you earlier in the week, I caught the just kind of by happenstance. I saw it. It was on I was at my folks house. I don’t have cable. So I was at my folks house and I said, “Well, the NYCFC Philadelphia match is on.” And I kind of caught the last 20 minutes of it, which was pretty contentious. Did you did you watch the match? Did you did you miss out on that one, since you’re not with the club anymore?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:02:50] Yeah, it’s it’s really interesting. Now, I don’t have to watch these games, so I tend to catch the first half. And yeah, I missed the contentious ending. So.

Jesse: [00:02:59] Yeah, that’s all we got. Which I was like, if you’re going to watch a match, that’s not like that’s your own club, then yeah, this is. This is the meet right here.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:03:08] Yeah, that’s the one. Yeah.

Jesse: [00:03:11] So I wanted to give you a hard time. And so if you’re the performance director, I wanted to ask, are you the one teaching them to fall on the ground when they didn’t actually get fouled or like what? What is your job?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:03:23] Yeah, we dedicate, we dedicate a significant amount of practice to that. Like choreographing the whole thing. Right. Yeah. Very important part of —

Jesse: [00:03:31] The timing is crucial because if you don’t get it, it’s clear that it was critical. Then you get a card and that’s a whole problem.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:03:40] You know, it was actually one of the biggest challenges going from a sport like hockey and going right into football of like you see a guy get fouled, you’re like, oh my God, he might be dead. He might not make it. Oh, no, he’s fine.

Jesse: [00:03:56] Completely fine.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:03:57] He’s completely fine.

Jesse: [00:03:59] He’s running at full speed down the pace.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:04:00] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jesse: [00:04:01] No problem.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:04:02] No problem at all. Yeah. So it did take me a while to control my impulse to sort of like, ‘Oh, God! I go into full panic mode.” So yeah, it’s funny.

Jesse: [00:04:12] That’s a tough thing. I think about anybody who’s not really been watching football or soccer, depending on which country from for any period of time is like. And I think a fair criticism is like is the dives because in hockey it’s like, well, we’re going to go like duke it out here for a minute and then we’ll get back.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:04:34] Right back to it.

Jesse: [00:04:35] Right. Which you don’t I don’t think you really want to start fistfights in the middle of the pitch, so I don’t know that that’s the way to go.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:04:44] Yeah, it seems like there’s an in-between, though, right?

Jesse: [00:04:47] Is this some kind —

Dr. Jeremy: [00:04:47] So there’s got to be some sort of middle ground.

Jesse: [00:04:50] Yeah, it’s just. It’s tough. It’s also tough, too, because I’ve seen, like. I don’t. I come from a running background. I played soccer as a little kid, but not to any competitive degree as I got older. But I also come from a martial arts background.

[00:05:09] So my instinct is to be like. Just like if somebody is trying to failure like, you know, like strategic fouls or their pointer jersey and they know it’s going to be a strategic yellow or whatever instead of going down, just like fight through it and continue to play forward. Like, that’s my instinct. But I also know watching matches that like sometimes refs missed stuff.

[00:05:33] So I’m like, is that the argument for kind of embellishing the “Oh, he hit you hit me or you ran into me?”

Dr. Jeremy: [00:05:41] Yeah, I think there’s a big part of that where it’s like there’s some of it where, yes, you want to make sure that that foul gets detected. There’s another part of you could fight through that, but you might not be in a great attacking position if you do. And so creating a set-piece, which is where a ton of goals, especially in the MLS’s ton of goals, come off that set-piece. And so there’s creating a better attacking platform. You know, in certain parts of the, you know, so there’s sort of a justification each way.

Jesse: [00:06:16] Right. Well, yeah. I mean, obviously, if you’re back in your own third, it’s like, yeah, you’re probably not going to jump the keeper at that point. I mean, you can try, but.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:06:29] Yeah, yeah.

Jesse: [00:06:30] The statistics are probably not on your side at that point, but I mean —

Dr. Jeremy: [00:06:32] Exactly.

Jesse: [00:06:33] It’s still depending on who’s where and what’s happening can sometimes give you a chance to reset, obviously gives the other team a chance to reset to, but depending on what you need strategically. So another question really is what did you actually do for the club? What were you working with them on?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:06:55] Yeah. So being Performance Director, it essentially means that you’re responsible for everything that touches the athlete away from the sport. So of course it bleeds onto the field a ton with the conditioning, the preparedness for the game and all that sort of stuff.

[00:07:13] So we start everything from rehab, medical care. We brought in a new hospital group last year and so, you know, onboarding physicians and all that sort of stuff, all of the nutrition, the sort of extended rehab, all of the injury prevention through strength and conditioning, the sports science, all the technology. And then sort of my job is is basically complex problem solving.

[00:07:48] So how do we leverage that multidisciplinary team, make it one department and and solve a problem with a lot of cognitive diversity versus me or the physio or the strength coach trying to solve that problem alone.

Jesse: [00:08:07] So I guess if I’m trying to truncate that or you’re like, I’ll call you like a director of operations in a sense of, like, of like athletic performance that isn’t directly impacted by, like, coach running practice and that kind of thing. Like everything else, the ecosystem that surrounds the athletes.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:08:27] Yeah, exactly. And so it’s. We will be in the room with the coaches to help plan, practice and sort of curate the training load to optimize for for game day, make sure everybody’s in a good position for game day. And so that’s where it sort of bleeds into the technical tactical stuff. But as far as what the drills are and all that sort of stuff like the football is down to obviously the coaches still, but then it sort of extends into the scouting realm, it extends into, you know, any any trades that might be happening, any new acquisitions that might be coming in.

[00:09:07] So yeah, it’s a pretty comprehensive role overall, but that’s where you’ve just got to have an excellent team of people who manage sort of the day-to-day.

Jesse: [00:09:17] I mean, as you’re describing it, I kind of feel like I missed out on a career calling because obviously, like, you know, my company is involved in sport and I’m an entrepreneur, so I like complex problem solving and just the whole thing. You know, it speaks a lot to the raw skills I like the things that I kind of gravitate towards. So I think that begs the question for me. Number one, did you even know that this kind of thing existed as you were going through school? Was this the goal from the outset, or how did you find yourself kind of winding into these career positions?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:09:56] But it really didn’t exist when I was going through school. So coming out I was a rugby player growing up. Always into sport, always fit. Physics took over a little bit in rugby. I stopped growing and the other guys didn’t. Yeah. So you’re going to lose out on some of those battles. So I knew I wanted to stay involved in sport and that’s usually, you know, people generally sort of size out of rugby and become strength coaches.

[00:10:28] And so that’s that’s where I went. So did exercise science, but rugby had only really turned professional in about 1995 and so. Again, really coming out of late 90s, early 2000 when I graduated with my undergrad that you would just see in the first sort of full-time strength coaches coming into sport. Football had always had fitness coaches, you know, but it was just another assistant coach who would run the players. It wasn’t necessarily somebody with an academic background in in how to prepare players.

[00:11:02] So. That’s where I sort of got a little bit lost coming out of my undergrad, was working in a gym, doing personal training and just sort of thought, you know, there’s got to be more to this. That’s when I made the move over to the States. I was going to stay for a year to do my master’s, and that was almost 20 years ago now. So I sort of sucked in to the —

Jesse: [00:11:27] Sidetracked a little bit.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:11:28] Yeah, a little bit derailed on the stuff, so. When you come over to the States from the UK, the professionalism of the sports in terms of having a staff of people who take care of the athletes, you know, every team had a strength coach. I went to Middle Tennessee State and an unbelievable strength conditioning program.

And it’s not a big football school, you know, and so like walking into a weight room like that, you’ve never seen anything like it in the UK and that’s when you start being like, “Oh, okay, okay, there are jobs that you can do around sport and be involved” and so that’s where I really started focusing in on becoming a full-time strength coach.

[00:12:16] And then as through my playing career, I always sort of had to piece those service elements together, whether it’s a massage therapist over here and osteopath over here, and doing my own fitness training and strength conditioning. And always looking to sort of complete the services like the full spectrum. And then going into sport, you start seeing those same gaps as a strength coach. You start seeing where there are gaps with the medical services, where there are gaps in the scientific approaches.

[00:12:48] And so as I progressed through my career, I started just documenting and looking at systems and trying to build that system in my mind. And then gradually work towards you know, get better in strength conditioning. You get promoted and you keep going. And so it was really just about getting the opportunity to implement that system that I had sort of curated in my head with a backdrop of Olympic sport in the UK and the collaborative approach to sort of taking care of athletes.

[00:13:24] You’ve got that in the back of your mind and now you can get to apply it in a different setting. It was just really fortuitous timing because that’s when those first wave of sort of foreign practitioners were coming into the sport in the US. It’s always been a very closed shop because they don’t compete against anyone else.

So it was just it was good timing to be coming in and getting into that’s bringing sport science into clubs and developing a multidisciplinary approach to things. It was very fortunate to be one of the first people on this side of the Atlantic doing that.

Jesse: [00:14:02] So then. I’m thinking about the timing and then I don’t know exactly the timing. You move between sports and leagues and teams for your whole career, but as you’re developing. This kind of I guess I’ll call it like a package service, almost a curator of everything that might ail an athlete.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:14:31] Right.

Jesse: [00:14:32] Does that. Does that lend you to basically pitching yourself as a new job like or you or are you applying for things that are already there? And then you’re like, “Oh, I could also bring all of these other skills to this position.”

Dr. Jeremy: [00:14:49] Yeah, it was an element of both going into the college setting for the first time at UCSB was a great opportunity to to start trying all of that stuff because it was a — it’s a division one school, but it’s a small division one school. And so they were just starving for anything that you could give them. And so we put in as comprehensive a program as possible as we could there and then transitioning to the nets. You go in as a strength coach.

[00:15:25] They now have the resources, number one, but also some of the willingness to try some of these other things. So that was one of those areas where it’s like, “Okay, I will also be the sport scientist. I’ll also be the nutritionist and start because I’m on more of the athletic performance side. I’ll start building out this side of it and as comprehensive away as possible”, and you start talking to management about systematic ways that we can manage the athletes better and bleeding into medical a little bit more.

[00:15:59] And as I was talking to my colleagues around the league about this model that I was putting together, they started one of those in particular, Alex McKechnie, up in Toronto. That was the sort of the model he had put together there. The Maple Leafs started showing interest in what he was doing because they have the same ownership group. And then he put my name forward when they were looking for a performance director to that.

[00:16:26] So it’s sort of evolved from where those jobs really didn’t exist. So then this was the first one that was being created in the NHL. I was one of five people to interview for that role and was very fortunate to get the job. Certainly the non-hockey person. So yeah, that was a. A progression from try everything you can bring a little bit more than your role demands of you to “Okay. Now you’re actually applying for this job.”

Jesse: [00:16:58] So talk to me about moving between sports, because I know a lot of people tend to stay in their own lane. They grow up. They grow up as a hockey player. They stick. They stay in hockey. I mean, I’ve talked to a couple of people over the years here and, you know, 150 some odd episodes in a couple of people who have, you know, I was a swimmer and now I do this or I’m forgetting her name right now. She was a rower and now she consults with like USA Bobsled.

[00:17:34] And there is some connection there somehow escapes me at the moment. But I mean, you’ve done an even more diverse spread of sports, obviously, or maybe not. Obviously not that I’m aware of. I don’t think we have pro rugby in the US. Maybe it’s it’s growing and I’m just not aware of it.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:17:52] But yeah, I just got the first leak.

Jesse: [00:17:54] Yeah. Okay. Okay. Like I live a little bubble. So I was like, maybe it’s happening and I just don’t see it. I see highlights of stuff from overseas. Pop up here and there. But obviously, if you’ve got a rugby background and you’re going NHL, the MLS’s, work in the NBA like. Not the same sport at all. Right. So are there transferable skills where you go, “OK I know, I know how to play rugby and these.” I guess I’ll say esoteric skills a little bit. Like you relate how the game plays to how different game plays is. Is it that or are you just simply starting from the ground ground up?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:18:39] Yeah, I think. I think everybody within a sport thinks it’s a lot more unique than it is. And there are there are people who are very specialized in that area. So. And they are sports coaches. So. It would be difficult for a hockey coach to go and coach in the NBA. Right that essentially if you want to be a professional hockey coach, you’re getting one of the 30 jobs that are available in the NHL. And you’re pretty trapped in that market.

[00:19:11] As a practitioner, we tend to mentally constrain ourselves in a similar way. But I think what we must look at is that our skill sets are just dealing with the human body and not in the human body as it relates to that sport. So we have a very transferable skill set in terms of preparing an athlete. You have to be able to identify the key demands of that sport, the key biomechanical actions, and then know how to connect all of that and prepare the athlete for and train them for the demands of their sport.

[00:19:48] So, it’s very transferable in that regard. What changes are the cultural, political and personal landscapes? And so that’s where it’s a very hard thing to do. Moving between sports and requires quite a lot of of the softer skills you have to be able to go in and and accept that new culture and see what’s good about it and see what you can bring to it versus come in and be like, okay, we’re just going to bring soccer over here and drop it on hockey. You know, that’s that’s just not going to work.

[00:20:23] So, yeah, to answer your question, it’s absolutely terrifying first and foremost, because, you know, you go from basketball and walking to one of the biggest sporting clubs in the world and the Maple Leafs. But I think once you get over that, you just start doing your job, start training athletes. And they’re all about the same ones. You’ve done it enough times once you’ve gone between them.

Jesse: [00:20:52] I mean, I think they all would be. I’ve never been in the pro locker room, so obviously just talking out of my ass here with conjecture. But I would think that I mean, they all want to win, right? Like they’ve worked hard enough to become pros and thinking about talking about political differences. And we’re talking about, like, jockeying within the organization, not like governmental politics. 

[00:21:27] Is that I would think that even like say I don’t know how a guy since I’ve not been inside the locker room, I don’t know how it operates. But I would think even say if you came from NYCFC to came to Kansas City and were working for Sporting, I would think that just based on like how Peter Vermes runs things, it’s going to be different from how I see a sea of run things versus like the. The politics of the organization. Even within the same sport, it seems like that would be its own challenge, let alone jumping into a new sport and doing the whole thing over again.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:22:08] Yeah. And that’s where I think you can you can get tripped up a little more is for me at least is going within the same sport because you you sort of assume, you know, you can make the assumptions that they’re sort of going to be very, very similar. But the political landscape between two clubs can be so vastly different. And they’re just how people approach kind of the athlete’s day to day life. You know, it just can be so different. And so you can trip up a bit thinking, “Oh, we’re just going to take this model and put it here”.

[00:22:42] When you change sport, you sort of know that it’s going to be really different. So you’re on your toes a little bit and, you know, you’ve got to be watching out. And just I think you’ve got to approach these with a high degree of humility. And that’s where the skepticism you’re going to get from coaches and players as a non named sport guy. If you approach it with humility and with a sort of appreciative inquiry approach where you you’re trying to find out what’s good and you’re trying to learn and they know you’re trying to learn. And. You’re there to offer what you know about. And not tell them what they know about. I think that’s where you can be successful. But it’s just recognizing that you’ve got to do that between every club, not just every sport.

Jesse: [00:23:35] It makes me wonder about, as you described yourself, if you’re transferring sports, you’re not insert sport guy, right? Didn’t come from that sport background. It makes me wonder if over time, whether you’ve hit this landmark yet or whether maybe it’s coming in the future. I see two potential. Hopefully the more positive one two potential labels for you. One. That’s no longer a question. It’s like, no, he’s worked in all these leagues. This guy’s got the goods. Or like, why has he worked in all these leagues? Does he have the goods? You know, you encounter either of those?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:24:15] Yeah, both. Yeah, it’s really interesting because in North America, you get one of these jobs and you keep it for life. Right. You’re the athletic trainer who’s been with with an NFL team for 25 years. Right. Europe, you sort of move around a little more. You know, there’s sort of a 4 to 5-year span and people move on and try something else and move around a little more. So my mindset is a little bit more in that regard. You know, I like new challenges. I like fresh environments.

[00:24:52] And so there’s a little bit of an element of that where culturally. That’s a bit unusual. And then the being the sports guy usually follows one sport behind you. So going into basketball, you know, you’re a rugby guy, going into hockey now, you’re a basketball guy coming out of into football and now you’re a hockey guy. Right. So it’s you’re never the guy until you leave and go and do something else. Now, I’m a hockey guy. Thanks.

Jesse: [00:25:24] I feel like that’s going to be. If you’ve got a good sense of humor. Not frustrating if you don’t. Probably for frustrating. But then I think like you, since you’ve seen it a number of times, you’re just like, Yep, this is what it is. Sure, I’m the hockey guy now that’s me.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:25:40] I’m the hockey. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It makes for a good story on a podcast.

Jesse: [00:25:47] Do you walk? I mean, you walk in the locker room just like, “Oh, it’s the hockey guy.” You’re like, I’ve never laced up skates and been on the ice. Or just like —

Dr. Jeremy: [00:25:57] You don’t want to see me on the ice. Yeah.

Jesse: [00:26:02] Before I forget about it, because I made this note earlier, I wanted to ask you about. So backing up, thinking about MLS and NYCFC, developing this kind of suite of services where you or your kind of colleagues are in the league involved in implementing the trackers that the players wear now. Because that’s been in the last couple of years that if you don’t watch MLS, all the players basically wear trackers to figure out how much ground they’re covering each game, their speeds, all these kinds of things. Were you involved in that?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:26:41] Yeah. Yeah. So that’s all the data that we, we collect, we — the training load data. So we’ll collect that during practice and during games. And it’s essentially it allows us to make sure that we’re ultimately preparing the athletes. First of all, it tells us what the demands of the game are, what velocities are they’re going to have to move at, how far are they going to have to run, how many sprints, all this sort of stuff.

[00:27:04] And then it allows us to plan the week. So we’re challenging them enough to make sure they’re prepared, but we’re not over challenging them close to the game to where they’re now fatigued. So it’s trying to strike that balance and making sure. You know, you can’t over recover athletes to where all you do is recover because you have to push and actually get in shape at some point.

And have something to recover from. But at the same time, you know, if you’ve got three games in a week, you need to know where to push and where not to. So so it’s balancing that on a day-to-day, week-to-week, and then on a season-long journey to make sure that they’re still able to function at the end of playoffs after a long season.

Jesse: [00:27:51] I definitely notice, like one of the thing, you know, this season aside injury is one of the things sporting always had trouble with is I think because of Peter’s like high press personality and the way he wants to play the players hard up front, we would end up like the wheels would fall off late in the season. And it seems like that’s they’ve done a little bit better job since the trackers have been involved with rotating players out, getting more rest, doing all those kind of things to not basically injure everybody by the end of the season.

[00:28:26] So for you personally when you’re looking at the data and trying to figure out this load optimization, this is something I’ve thought about a lot over the years as an injury prone athlete. I don’t know how many times I was injured during collegiate athletics from overload. Again, as a distance runner, it’s a problem we face all the time, since our sport is literally a performance against the clock.

Are you taking that data and making like individual optimizations where you go like, “Oh, okay, we know” like our defenders maybe aren’t going to be putting in as much since they’re not pressing up or like the midfielders are going to be doing the majority of the running so that we know that they’re at this certain load or even beyond that, just this player tends to break down at more than such and such load during the week. Are you getting that granular when you’re going into that information?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:29:25] Yeah, even down to the number of sprints a guy is doing, you’ll see our sport scientist, Luke Cooper with New York, you’ll see him after the game with the guys on the field and guys who play below a certain number of minutes doing top up sprints to make sure that we’re getting enough load into those guys. And then we’re not getting too much load into the starters who are playing 90 plus minutes. And so it’s really important to first of all, I always say that we’re a football club and not a sports science club, so we try and impact as little as possible on the core parts of practice and competition.

[00:30:09] But there’s these elements around those where we can start manipulating load for players, making sure guys get more or less know they don’t need the individual. They might need to do some extra sprints when necessary. We might suggest that a guy doesn’t participate in a certain drill because of the type of activity they’d be doing. But it’s very, very individualized, and that goes all the way down, not just to how much they’ve done on the pitch, but we also collect data off the pitch on strength levels, recovery levels, all these other factors that feed into what makes them susceptible to injury from the load, not identifying the load as the problem on its own.

Jesse: [00:30:59] So one of the things that. I have. And because you guys have so much data, it may not be even a question anymore, is it? My kind of most reliable indicator is, again, somebody who did not quite make it to the professional level in his sport. Is it like I always relied heavily on perceived exertion? And I know when I talk to Dr. Matt Jordan, who’s he works for the Canadian equivalent of the US Olympic Training Center. I can’t remember what their training is called.

[00:31:38] He’s working on many of this similar kind of things where it’s like, how do we load certain athletes in certain ways and how to quantify and figure out all these things. And I remember talking to him about, like RPE often ends up being still a very highly correlated measure where you go, if the athlete says they need recovery, then they probably do. Does that also get taken into account with your system or having NYCFC tries to load the players?

[00:32:11] Or if you get an indication from somebody like, you know, like getting a little like like irritation in my hamstring or whatever, do you continue with the program or do you make adjustments based on that like qualitative measure?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:32:28] Yeah. No, the thing that we mustn’t ever lose sight of in sports science as we’re collecting more and more data, is the fact that we’re still dealing with humans. And if you want to know if something was hard or if somebody’s tired, you should probably ask them. But the data is there. The objective data is there to guide an informed decision making. It’s not the other way around. It doesn’t. We don’t follow the data, know it follows and supports us.

[00:33:00] Sometimes you need a guy to just push, right? And so the data says they probably shouldn’t, but you’re probably not going to hurt anyone by doing it. You make those calculated decisions because you’ve got the information to give you the confidence in your decision making.

And so these are important things to recognize. But when it comes to coaches. Right. Just because they’re not measuring stuff with the technology that we have doesn’t mean that coach is good, that intuition is not data. If you’ve seen things happen a million times, it’s valuable data. You can probably predict relatively closely what’s going to happen next. Right. And so you go through these scenarios and built this this vast database in your mind.

[00:33:47] We must respect that. And I’ve always approached coaches in a way, and especially introducing new data systems. But here is another piece of information to help you make a decision. Right. And same with the athlete. Our low data says you haven’t done enough. You’re telling me your hamstrings are sore I’m going to believe you. You know, I just think that that that’s the critical piece in implementing sports science. That we must always sort of keep that connection with is the human element.

Jesse: [00:34:22] I think that’s really, I guess, reassuring to hear. And it may be because I deal much more with amateurs asking me questions and that kind of thing. I mean, I have friends that are, as we mentioned before, we were recording high level amateurs, some pros, some retired pros that I know. But but by and large, the people that kind of interact with me or amateurs and it just seems like there’s this mindset of getting too obsessed with the data and letting the data rule all.

[00:34:59] And so I guess what. Because I’ve been doing my own thing for 20 some odd years now. I’m relatively in tune with being able to marry those two things. But I struggle with trying to figure out a reliable system, I guess, to communicate to people that want to use the data. Let’s say have less than five years experience competing on their own as an amateur and whatever. Do you have good mental strategies or systems or something that you would suggest to people that are just kind of getting their feet wet?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:35:44] Yeah, I think. The good thing is to sort of give the data, that sort of bullshit check, you know, when you wake up and you woop says you’re you feel like shit and don’t do anything, but you feel great. Just because the white man says that, you know, it’s not necessarily the most accurate piece of information. Right. Or if it’s the other way around. Right. You have to follow how you’re feeling.

[00:36:15] And initially when you start trying a new piece of technology, use it to confirm what you’re feeling. I do a do a self inventory. If you do your meditation, you do your your body, check it like follow that. And then compare that to the objective data, and you’ll find data sources that are highly reliable and have a high confidence interval. And those are the ones you go with because then they will be sensitive to change. And if they track with how you’re feeling.

[00:36:50] Then you can start trusting them more and more. But I think. The error that you can make and I certainly did this as a young practitioner is putting so much in this technology and this new stuff that was come in and we need to follow this and we need to fly at this time because our sleep tracker says we need to do that.

[00:37:10] And you get so wrapped up in that. That you forget that a guy might want to fly home because it’s his daughter’s birthday. Right? And maybe that outweighs the extra hour of sleep you get. You know, and so there are little things that I think. Again. It’s just that checking. But if you don’t have the self-awareness, first to know, okay, I feel like crap this morning, but wow, I feel great this morning. Then don’t rely on the woop or the aura or the garmin or whatever else it might be.

[00:37:47] Just I think the more trust you have in yourself. But again, you said it it’s experience and reps and you’re going to make mistakes and. you’re going to think you can push and you’re going to hurt yourself. And that’s okay. I just — you’ll work through it and you learn. You know.

Jesse: [00:38:06] I think that method is great because what I basically find myself feeling like the old man shouting into the void, even though I’m not I’m not particularly all early thirties. But I just go I just because. And I’ve talked to on the podcast, I’ve talked to people that have said all the trackers are bull. And then I’ve also talked to somebody who has a company that has a tracker. And so it. I think my trouble is that. The tracker is only good as good as number one, the data is being fed. The data has been fed historically and the algorithm that’s been developed for it.

[00:38:54] So if there are outside influences that aren’t being tracked or haven’t been tracked historically, aren’t being factored in or can’t be factored in to the algorithm, then I think you’re as I think you mentioned, a confidence interval. I think that gets downgraded because as you mentioned, there’s parts of the human experience that are being tracked like a birthday, like you probably want to get back for that. And so that’s where it’s like, I know it’s valuable, but that’s where I struggle with it. So I appreciate the the kind of gut check idea about trying to try to see how they correlate and go with there. I think that’s a pretty no-nonsense approach to it.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:39:44] But the thing is, there are so many new trackers and wearables now that it’s difficult. I have a PhD in human performance and I can’t keep up with. You know, I can’t read all of the papers that may or may not have been published on this latest Fitbit. Right? And so it can be difficult. And I think when I’m bringing something into a sports team. Okay, then I’m going to dig in and I’m going to know exactly how accurate this bit of technology is.

[00:40:14] But if it’s something that I’m going to wear for myself. I just need to compare it to Nan of one. I just need to compare on how this works for me. And use it as a guide. You know, maybe you should throttle back a little bit. Maybe you can push a little harder. And that’s sort of one of the. One of the reasons for now leaving sport is having enough of that experience. And wanting to now go and sort of democratize that experience a little bit and be able to help a wider group of people.

[00:40:47] And with Northstarr, we’re trying to solve that problem a little bit in that. We’ve got so much data now and it’s overwhelming and it takes so long to sort of look through it all and understand it that we’re creating sort of that almost that business intelligence layer.

[00:41:06] So it’s going to be a system that brings all of that into an AI model. That’s expert informed by myself and others to start getting some actionable insights. So how does your aura compare with your Garmin? Compare with your woop? And then what do I do about it is the next thing. Because that’s what we’re really starving for is is the insight in this data is that now we’re just collecting massive databases of data, both of the team and the individual level.

[00:41:40] And so we need to solve that problem of what? What’s my one next action? You know, how do we how do I take this so I know I didn’t sleep well. Now what? Right? And so that’s the important piece that we’re missing. And we sort of see that as the next evolution. You know, that initial wave was tracking and gathering data. The next evolution is is insights you and that’s where I think we’ve we are quite we’re poor on insights right now.

Jesse: [00:42:14] So that leads me to the question of which you’ve already kind of explained is what are you doing in Northstarr and what does Northstarr do? So. So if I, if I try to again try to truncate that a little bit. So Northstarr is building an AI model to try to help, let’s say professional teams or anybody who can afford it, maybe to, to figure out those insights on how to perform better.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:42:44] Yeah. So obviously, look, it’s going to be different levels. The pro sports team are probably going to pay a little more than you and I would write for something like this. What we’re looking to do is take a snapshot of that human being as a whole person. So, yes, it’s all of the traditional physical and biomarker data that we’ve been collecting. But then also how are we capturing the cognitive and the emotional parts of that equation as well? And this is a problem that we haven’t solved yet in sport and I think in wider society because it’s really hard. You know, in sport, we often say the game is 90% mental.

[00:43:26] But then 100% of our interventions are physical. And so that’s a big area that we’re going to be tackling with some of the world’s best experts is how do we create that side of the algorithm? Pull in every data stream that we can. Right? So it’s all the team’s data. It’s all the agents data, the scouts, their own wearables make it athlete-centered where they control that data and who has access to it. And then give the athlete the information on how are their behaviors impacting their performance.

[00:44:07] And so maybe it’s you know, as we do this, you make yourself more likely to get injured and so go do this. Or if you do this, this is what drives your peak performance. So that’s the other side. We tend to be quite negatively focused on injury and down regulating to avoid injury as opposed to up regulating. To drive peak performance, which is what we all want. Right? We don’t just want to sit on the couch so we don’t hurt ourselves. The athlete doesn’t want to. If we stop everyone playing sport, no one will ever get hurt again.

Jesse: [00:44:44] It’s not from sport. Right?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:44:45] But that’s not — Yeah, but that’s not the point. The point is that we want to watch great athletes do incredible things. And so that’s what we’re about, is how do we take all of this data and optimize that athlete and bring it all in and make sure the athlete has the best care, the best insight that they know, and they can own their actions and guide their own self through this performance journey in such a way that we’re really maximizing this data. Because the quickest way to lose somebody when you’re asking them to wear wearable after wearable after wearable is to not give them anything from it. If we just collect these massive databases —

Jesse: [00:45:31] Do all this work and get nothing out of it.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:45:33] Yeah. So what? Right. We wear this every day and nothing ever changes. So that’s what we’re aiming for. And it’s a problem that hasn’t been solved yet in sport. And I’ve been trying to solve it within the team environment for so long and have built enough experience where I can go in and look at this data and put it all together and pick out those threads. But as I said, now we want to start taking that out to more and more people.

[00:46:02] But then, yes, you start at the top with the pros, but we also want to democratize it down through making technologies available to high schools and to little leagues. And to me. And you. That previously the pros have only had access to it because it costs half a million bucks to go and get a full 3D biomechanical analysis. Well, what if we can take it and put it in your phone, right? And you just. You point your phone and it does a scan. What if you could have it in your webcam here that could say, “Hey, you know, sit up.”

Jesse: [00:46:38] So that’s the problem. Mechanical problem. I always have.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:46:40] Yeah. But it’s everyone. And so that’s the other areas that. Think about all the military operators who are out doing this. You know, we, That’s a human system that we need to optimize. Think about all the industrial athletes, you know, people climbing utility poles, people like getting in and out of UPS trucks, that same right leg hitting the ground every time. If we can now start taking this into these other environments. We’re not now just in investing in the one athlete, the one professional fancy sports team.

[00:47:17] Now it starts improving the whole human operating system. And so that’s where we’re trying to go with this is yes. Starts at the top, but then really democratize all the way down. So we improve that experience for all of us as we interact with our own data.

Jesse: [00:47:34] So you had mentioned and I say this, I’ve heard people say talking about sports being 90% mental and you’re trying to track all of these things. Do you have or are you working on a methodology to collect this qualitative kind of information? Because I think that is.

The — as far as the field of psychology goes, that’s part of why we still label it as a very young field because getting data like hard data on this correlates to how somebody feels aside from let’s stick them in an fMRI and show them pictures. And like, there’s kind of crude ways to go about it, but like, you’re not sticking every athlete in the fMRI every single day and just having that period of practice. So do you have a methodology where you’re trying to collect that kind of information?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:48:34] Yeah, we do. But we’ve not solved that problem. But let’s get one thing straight. This is a very, very complex problem. This is not something that’s overnight, but someone’s got to start. And so that’s where we’re pulling in the world’s leading experts who know how to do this through survey data. We’re looking at some unbelievable technologies where you can passively collect this data through maybe facial recognition or there are many of these signals in the voice.

[00:49:04] And so how do we collect this data? Simply by maybe you speak into your app. And it can it can rate your levels of anger and stress and all these different things. So we’re currently trialing a lot of technologies in these areas. It’s just fascinating stuff and really groundbreaking. And so if we can start capturing some of that objective side of this through these passive signals that we give through our bodies, then I think we can get some of the way to solving some of these problems.

Jesse: [00:49:40] I think that’s a novel and pretty interesting approach. Again because the traditional way like surveys. How do you feel, Rate of perceived exertion like they get you in the ballpark, but obviously you don’t get the minutia you really like if you really want to be data-driven and make decisions. So adding those extra layers of models, I think I’ll be interested to see how you guys do and how that progresses for sure.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:50:19] Yeah, me too.

Jesse: [00:50:23] Jeremy, as we’re running down on time, each season of the show, I come up with a question I ask every single guest for that season. So I’ll ask you this season’s question. And this is something I don’t think people do enough of, but hopefully, given that you’ve been in so many sports, you’ve got a good practice and maybe you’ve seen lots of good practice in this. And the question for this year is how do you celebrate your wins?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:50:49] Oh, yeah. I’m really bad at this. That. That’s the journey I’m on right now. Another part of living sport, because the problem is in sport, there’s always a new Everest. There’s always something else like, yeah, we’ve great. We’ve done this. I’ll be so happy when we do this. But then you do that. But there’s always another challenge, right? And it’s such a, it’s a high-performance culture and that the tendency for us all is just to search for problems to solve.

[00:51:25] And one of the things I’ve tried to build into my life is less external validation, less other people telling you great job, other people saying, “Wow! You’ve got a cool job”, this, that and the other more internal validation. Where this was my goal, I achieved it. And experiencing that joy internally. It’s — it is not something that comes naturally to me, but it is something that I am actively working on. And I think that the first part of it for me was recognizing that internal versus external validation. And so that would be my advice to anybody now is that it doesn’t matter.

[00:52:16] What that external sources they will never be able to provide you with enough where you actually believe it. You have to have your own checks of what success and failure look like. And let that guide you versus letting the outside world, because then you’re like a flag blowing in the wind. You can be much more sort of value-oriented. Much more. Much more guided by your own internal experience. If you’re responsible for it then, than if you’re just trying to make everyone happy and get a pat on the back and it’s not so. That’s it for me.

Jesse: [00:52:59] It’s a solid answer. Jeremy, if people want to catch up with you, see what you’re up to or any of that kind of stuff. Where can they find you?

Dr. Jeremy: [00:53:07] Yeah, usually LinkedIn’s probably the best place. If you want to see picture of my cat, then you can find me on Instagram @jezbettle or I’m somewhat active on Twitter. Not particularly. I do like to keep a low profile, so I’ll be in the background a little bit.

Jesse: [00:53:29] I mean, given your job, you’re not one of the players on the field that’s got this public profile all the time. So it makes sense that you might be a little more out of the way, but —

Dr. Jeremy: [00:53:44] Yeah.

Jesse: [00:53:47] I think you’ve got a lot of good insights to share. So I always want to let people know where they can reach out if they’d like to. So.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:53:53] Yeah, LinkedIn’s best.

Jesse: [00:53:56] Awesome. So if you’re on YouTube, that will be on the screen. Otherwise, down in the description, on whatever platform you’re on, you can find Jeremy on his LinkedIn. That’ll be again in the description. Jeremy, thanks for hanging out today.

Dr. Jeremy: [00:54:10] Jess. Thanks a lot for having me on, mate. Really enjoyed it.

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