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  • Jo Clubb

Mini: Compound Interest

Given the complexity of performance, along with the influence of innate ability, it can sometimes be a challenge to link habits to performance. This may be particularly true with some younger athletes, who may not see the connection between their day-to-day decisions and what happens on game-day. Similarly, we’ve all come across the athlete who has such innate talent that they achieve high levels of performance with perhaps less than ideal preparation.

“It doesn’t matter if I eat junk food, I play the same either way.”

“I did these prehab exercises yesterday - why do I have to keep doing them?”

“I can sleep when I’m dead – nights are for computer games!”

So, I was recently struck by an analogy used by David Joyce on the Science for Sport podcast, in which he described performance like a measure of compound interest:

“…the bit about day after day after day is really important because, I’m not the only person who holds this view but I certainly hold it strongly, is that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. And what we see in the Olympics for example, we see in sometimes half a second or ten seconds or in the case of the marathon or golf over four days, that’s just a lagging measure of the compound interest. That’s the dividend that’s paid on all the investments over a sporting lifetime. And so the hard work is done in the training environment, as Mohammed Ali said more eloquently…” - David Joyce

We can immediately relate to the process of saving money; in that it is a long-term investment, and perhaps the more consistency and patience we have, the more it will pay off (literally) in the long run.

Of course, performance is more complex than this. Perhaps, if we want to get more specific, we should relate it more to a stocks and shares investment that is less linear than a regular savings account. Or even in today’s times, relating it to cryptocurrency will be most relevant to our Gen Z athletes.

The compound interest analogy may be useful to illustrate the importance of consistency and patience with professional habits and how they can ultimately pay off in time.