Have you got GRIT? Test yourself here.

Having been involved in sports for pretty much most of my life, I have endured times of wanting to quit as well as times of wanting to never give up. These moments come across all individuals at unpredictable times, and it’s most likely that when it does come about it is the worst time possible.

A lot of athletes are often measured on their individual performances in sport. This has always been the way since the very start of sports. The winners are the ones that people remember and the losers… well, nobody remembers them. There are many ways to measure an athlete, in psychology we have performance profiling, in sports analysis we have statistics, and in sports science we have laboratory physiological tests, and if you are lucky enough you will have all three of these areas to measure you and how do you perform. However, there is one aspect that I would like to draw to your attention having recently watched a video that discusses the nature of how resilience should also be considered as a measure of an individuals drive to succeed. This is something that Angela Lee Duckworth explains as being ‘grit’.

Over her years of extensive research Angela Lee Duckworth was able to devise a scale of which grit can be measured. She used the scale in a number of capacities and established that it was a better predictor of success than intelligence. The main contexts that the grit scale was used was mainly academic or military, yet I am interested in how this would differ with a variety of athletes. There are always those days where you may look out of the window and see the rain sheeting down onto the road outside, and we let this factor into our train of thought and some of us may decide against training on that particular day. I believe that this grit scale may help coaches and athletes themselves to decipher how motivated and determined they are to succeed when times are hard.

For me the definition of grit is as follows: ‘Being able to endure difficult moments to achieve a long term target’

We must think back and remember of times when we have achieved such targets and consider how long it took. From that length of time, how many days were good days, and how many days were bad. If we do have a day where everything looks like it is against us we must think of the days where everything was in our favour. If your long term target takes you 365 days I am guessing that roughly only 50 of those days maybe bad ones. To go one step further 50 days could be reduced to 20 days depending on your ‘grittiness’.

So I urge you to have a go and see how gritty you really are by taking the 12 item grit scale as designed by Angela Lee Duckworth by clicking here. How likely are you to tell the rain and the cold to shove it? To put aside your emotions and fill your body with lactic acid? To forget about that hard day at work and hit the tarmac? To put your injury behind you and think of everything you can still achieve? The answers to these questions are what will make us different to one another, and I believe that grit is one of the newest and most influential measurements of how we can succeed.

Please take the time to watch Angela Lee Duckworth’s presentation at one of the TED conferences.


10 things about Greek yogurt

Many athletes train a significant amount of time during the week. But I have a hunch that the last 20 minutes of a work out, or even the entire duration of a workout, is spent thinking about what to eat once your done training. The thought process for me starts healthy. A lovely piece of turkey and salad that you left in the fridge is quickly turned into a flavour exploding stir fry or curry. My brain tends to start this way also, but turkey and salad tends to be seen as protein and carbs. Then without knowing where the time has gone, I’m making fish and chips :-/

Ever since the moment my auntie gave me a chocolate button at 2 months old, I have had a sweet tooth. And I thank my auntie for that. Yet, when in training staying away from sugar at dessert time is a tough thing to do. Hello Greek Yogurt…

1. Greek yogurt was originally made in Greece, clearly…Made from milk, it goes through a process that reduces the excess fluid which gives Greek yogurt its stiff texture.

2. Due the processes used, Greek yogurt tends to be lower in lactose and carbohydrates, but manages to hold on to a good level of protein.

3. Greek yogurt is not only good to use as a dessert with berries and nuts, it is able to hold its texture in hot dishes without curdling and ruining your food.

4. In terms of vitamins Greek yogurt offers a good level of vitamin D. For those of us like to train, vitamin D has a positive effect on the structure and function of skeletal muscle, especially in older athletes as they are more susceptible to muscle degeneration. (Hamilton, 2011: Asian Journal of Sports Medicine)

5. The most common use of this think yogurt is in the making or tzatziki, which is a greek dip or sauce used in many Greek dishes. It is easy to make yourself.

6. Unfortunately the supermarkets will store a range of Greek yogurt varieties. Steer clear of the not as healthy Greek ‘style’ yogurts. These may not use the same processes or milk types that produce the high vitamin D and protein, and the low lactose carbohydrate, yogurt we love so much.

7. You can get yourself 10.3g of protein and only 4g of carbs in a 100g serving of Greek yogurt

8. Greek yogurt is highly recommended for those who are pregnant, simply because of the nutrition one can get from it.

9. Many curry’s or moroccan dishes require the use of natural yogurt, even a number of Italian dishes like to add a bit of ricotta or creamed cheese. STOP! There is nothing wrong with a bit of experimenting in the kitchen using Greek yogurt.

10. Dessert recipe…get yourself your desired dollop of Greek yogurt in a bowl (don’t be too greedy), and add a teaspoon of Nutella. Miss this in well and then add some chopped nuts and sliced banana. Nutella is nutritionally sound and is packed with the good fats that we require. Plus with its powerful hazelnutty flavour, you don’t need too much of it in this dessert dish. Which means the jar of Nutella can last a bit longer. Everyones a winner!!!

There are a few different types of good greek yogurt brands out there. Supermarkets may well do their own version. For me however, I prefer the ‘Fage Total 0%’ Greek yogurt.

If you try one thing in the off-season, it should be Greek yogurt


British Sport – Our Time

When wasn’t it our time?

My first recollection of sport was at the age of four, and I could hear my father screaming at the television at the England team who were taken to the Mexico 1986 World Cup. And bellowing his advice to the likes of Gary Lineker, Glenn Hoddle, and Peter Shilton. We actually only finished eighth that year, after some of the worst performances my father had ever seen by the England squad. In the summer of 1986 an American won the Tour de France a German won Wimbledon and the British Lions didn’t even go on tour. Nevertheless, we did win the ashes, all be it not very convincingly. The British culture of sport was mainly dosed in alcohol, fighting and bullish behaviour. It is safe to say that we were decades away from winning anything. As a nation we were behind in so many of the sports that we allegedly invented all those years ago.

Slowly getting better…

It is hard to define when the turning point of British sport was. Although there were moments of greatness over the last 20 years. For example Jonny Wilkinson’s last second drop goal in the Rugby World Cup. Chris Boardman’s ride to glory in the Olympics. At home we had some of the toughest leagues and best sports to watch in the world. Yet, when we take all that talent into international duty we have a tendency to flop. The build up to the Olympics has had a huge effect on our sport. I am not saying that the Olympics was the major turning point, but the money and the funding that went into it surely helped our individual athletes. Sport and the sciences that are around it are becoming ever more popular. As a lecturer in sports science I’m seeing more and more students wanting to come onto the courses I deliver. And they are also looking to go on to studying sport sciences and related specialities at higher levels. Therefore, along with athletic talent, we are now getting the people to make this talent better. However a sport scientist also needs an athlete to work with. To which, this is also being improved with the variety of sports and the huge encouragement that schools and colleges are giving students to continue in their sports throughout their teenage years. And now, in 2013, it is fair to say that we have carved the way to sporting excellence. But we are not there yet. Although we are winning, we are doing it in the hardest possible way. For example, Lee Halfpenny missing that kick to secure the victory on the Lions tour. When Justin Rose just missed his approach shot on the 14th hole in the U.S. Open. When when Andy Murray dropped two sets in the final at Wimbledon.

Lets be good in at least one sport…

I remember being in a meeting about two years ago and one member of staff was discussing how ‘we need to be good in at least one sport’. The Spanish football team have dominated world football for the last five or six years. And now it looks like there will be a shift, moving across Europe into Germany. We were never able to perform well at one particular sport on the international stage. From watching England in World Cups and European Championships, to watching the Ashes, to watching the British Lions and the England rugby teams, to watching Murray get to so many finals and not hold the trophy. It was always so painful getting to the last hurdle and then falling.


‘Every time you win, you’re reborn; when you lose, you die a little.’ George Allen.


As a nation we have felt what it’s like to die again and again. However our nation has been reborn in sport. To summarise our success this year:

  • Scott Waites won at the BDO World darts Championships.
  • England dominated in the T20 against New Zealand in March.
  • Andy Murray won the Sony open tennis in the US.
  • We’ve had a number of British winners at 3 and 6 of Silverstone and also in formula 3.
  • Chris Froome won the tour of Romandie.
  • We have British winners in rallycross, speedway and superbikes on the international stage.
  • Our junior England rugby team won at the IRB junior world Championships.
  • Justin rose won the US open.
  • The British Lions won 2-1 in their tour against the Wallabies
  • We had a British driver win as part of a team in the 24 hours of Le Mans.
  • Andy Murray finally won at Wimbledon.
  • Chris Froome won the 100th and best Tour de France to date.

And it’s only July. At last we are a nation to be feared and not laughed at. Other nations take us seriously, because we now have an abundance of talented athletes, and we also have the best sport science and the best equipment and we leave no stone unturned when we want to win.

We have more talent in the bag too!