Practice on artificial surfaces makes sense before the playing

14 thoughts on “Practice on artificial surfaces makes sense before the playing”

  1. This is a great piece Sid and very true. There is nothing like the “feel” of natural grass & dirt, but as it is a reality all athletes might well experience various surfaces which represent their own various nuances… becoming familiar with them is wise. Multiple surface training is indeed a good thing!

  2. I totally agree. When these kids get to college they will benefit because even two pure grass fields are never exactly the same. It always helps to have more than one tool in the toolkit.

  3. Jameel very true indeed. I also feel that not only are the nuances physically demanding in their unique challenges, but as well, mentally; making “approach” different for each different playing field so to speak. In order to train forward, variable stimuli should be employed in my opinion. Surface differentials are one of the underlying reasons behind the concept of the Mental Stimulus Obstacle Course as prefaced on my website: among my goals at adding additional tools in the toolkit, as you say it. 🙂

  4. I think the prevailing logic is that all equine behavior is genetic and cannot be coached. While I’m sure that a horse of advanced age would have trouble letting go of “bad” tendencies, I don’t see any reason as to why the mindset of a two-year old cannot be completely overhauled.

  5. Sorry, but this analogy doesn’t hold to any significant degree with racehorses.

    It might be fair to argue that if two turf horses (to use one example) were to contest a race on a dirt track, and one of them had trained for several weeks on that surface while the other had trained exclusively on turf, the former would have an advantage. However, due to variables including conformation, pedigree, and action, racehorses, with few exceptions, tend to show distinct surface preferences. Such preferences are not only obvious on various surfaces, but even various conditions found on a single surface.

    There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that a racehorse can be trained to excel on a surface to which it is not intrinsically well-suited. As I’ve mentioned previously, one would probably see some genetic adaptations take place over several generations, much as dirt lines have been developed here in the U.S. But no amount of training on dirt will lead to a turf horse becoming equally effective on that surface, or vice versa. Nor could a fast-ground turf horse be ‘taught’ to handle soft ground.

    The synthetic tracks are a bit different only in that a good percentage of turf horses seem to make a fairly easy transition. This isn’t surprising given that neither turf nor synthetics are break-away surfaces.

  6. Tinky,

    As usual, thanks for your opinion.

    However, if everyone thought old school as you do, there would never be any room for innovation or “thinking outside the box.”

    It’s refreshing, however, to know that there are people who refuse to accept absolutes.

  7. Sid –

    Rather than resorting to a vague, ad hominem attack on my “old school” thinking, why not try to refute my clearly expressed argument?

    Do you, as an “out of the box” thinker, believe that it is possible, through training, to turn a turf horse into a dirt horse, or a fast-ground specialist into an equally effective soft ground performer? If the answer is “yes”, then where is your evidence? I’ve been professionally involved with Thoroughbreds for over 25 years, and have yet to see any. And please refrain from using the baseball example, as it is obviously not analogous.

    Oh, and by the way, I actually do think “out of the box” in many instances, but when it comes to questions such as this one, I’ll happily remain “old school” until there is meaningful contrary evidence produced.

  8. Tinky:

    Why don’t you, instead, present your evidence to prove your point? That is, evidence not based anecdotally. And is there enough evidence gathered with surface as THE isolated variable in any study?

    Touchy today. Good day.

  9. Sid –

    Are you serious? Horses have been trained for hundreds of years in the UK, and I am not aware of a single claim by any trainer that what you are suggesting is possible. Nor have I ever heard a single trainer in the US make such a claim. And yet, you think that it is incumbent on me to back up my position? That’s absurd!

    I’ve been observing racehorses for well over 30 years, and there are both conformation and pedigree variables that virtually insure a preference for a particular surface. In the US, every trainer would prefer to have a dirt horse to a grass horse, they have been training those bred for turf on dirt for decades, and yet only a very small percentage end up showing equal or better performance on the latter surface. How can that be if there is any substance to your claims?

  10. That’s right, Sid, I haven’t produced a “study”. I have, however, outlined why hundreds of years of conventional wisdom remains the conventional wisdom today. You, in stark contrast have failed to address a single specific example that I have used to support my position, nor have you been able to produce a single shred of evidence with which to support yours.

    I’ll be happy to let your readers decide for themselves whose assertions are more credible.

  11. If this is about being credible, Tinky, fine. But i suggest you read my post carefully because the thesis, fairly simply asked because of lack of researched evidence, is: “They can only benefit by practicing on a surface they might have to play on, right?”

    You, on the other hand, have unloaded all sorts of stuff, espoused the predictable, ridiculed the question, asked for proof, and been unable to deliver the “beef.”

    Thanks, though, as always, for your entertaining comments.

  12. “They can only benefit by practicing on a surface they might have to play on, right?”

    That’s it? That training horses (i.e. “practicing”) on a surface that they might race on could benefit them? Well, yes, of course there can be a marginal benefit to such training. But such marginal benefits in this context are, for all practical purposes, inconsequential. So a horse which isn’t naturally suited to a dirt surface finishes fifth instead of seventh? So what?

    While not a formal “study”, the example that I used above relating to turf horses provides overwhelming historical evidence that racehorses cannot be “trained” to handle a surface to which they aren’t intrinsically well-suited. There have been countless thousands of turf horses that have regularly trained on dirt in the U.S. for decades. Their trainers have all had tremendous incentives to prefer that they race on dirt. Most have been given multiple opportunities to race over dirt early in their careers. And yet, only a small percentage of them have ever proven to be equally effective (or better) on such surfaces.

    If “practice” on a given surface were a powerful enough tool to allow racehorses to adapt to a “different” surface, then we would have seen turf lines rapidly morph into dirt lines regularly over the past several decades in the U.S. But nothing remotely like that has happened, as no amount of “practice” can have such an impact.

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