Strength Performance Network

Evidence Based & Peer Reviewed - Does it Matter?

Is it evidence based? Do you have peer-reviewed research to back that up? These are questions I get constantly. I certainly understand that point of view, but coaching is about performance. I know the science, I study the research but coaching is about producing measurable results in the competitive arena. I do not know a coach who is worth their salt who will wait for peer-reviewed research to design their training programs. The ultimate validation of training is: Does it work, Does the athlete improve and Are they injury free? Science and research are important, don’t get me wrong, but in my experience they follow, they do not lead. So much of what happens in development and preparation of the athlete is not quantifiable; it is a subjective process, a nurturing to get the athlete ready. JustRandom Numbers because you can count it or measure it does not mean it counts. Without the context the coach can provide so much of sport science research and monitoring are random numbers. Coaches and athletes lead change out of necessity to stay on top of their game. We can learn the science but we must practice the art to make our athletes better. Each has a place. Winston Churchill summed it up quite succinctly: “Science should be on tap, not on top.”

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Comment by Karsten Jensen on November 15, 2012 at 12:29pm

One of university teachers, Jens Bangsbo, Doctor in Soccer (no joke!) has done 100's of scientific papers on the training of the energy systems. He has ALSO been the strength and conditioning coach for the famous Italian soccer club, Juventus. He has a quote that says "Training is not science, but science can improve training".

I am in total agreement with Vern. While the aim of scientists is to prove or disprove a hypothesis, our aim as coaches is to produce results with the athlete we work with. Science is one way to help us back up what we do (basic physiology, biomechanics and practical experience are two others). In a recent post on another website, some pulled out a 100 year old book on training and reviewed the advice with the point that not much has changed. I commented that one big thing that has changed is that today, we have science to help us back up COMPONENTS of what we do. Back then the only way they could back up their advice was through experience.

The bottomline for me as a coach is to understand for myself and explain to the athletes and coaches I work with why a program looks the way it does. I back up my suggestions with a combination of the three above mentioned sources 1 Scientific study, 2 Basic physiology, anatomy and biomechanics and 3 Experience (not a prioritized order)

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MSc, Strength Coach, CPTN-CPT.M
Author, Lecturer, Founder of Yes To Strength
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Comment by John Weatherly on November 15, 2012 at 10:39am

I agree Dr. Moreno.  Why can't we bring these folks together?  You can't even have open discussions about issues with people (see the discussion on degree programs).  Scientists hide (i.e,, NSCA President, BOD, and others) instead of coming on here and having meaningful constructive dialogue.

Comment by Tony Moreno on November 14, 2012 at 1:05pm
As a young assistant strength coach, I witnessed the DLine coach (who was also the head S&C coach for football...D1 to boot) take his athletes to a brick flower planter approximately 30" off the ground and proceed to have them perform what he called "plyometric movements" onto the concrete for about 1 minute. That was until one promising athlete slipped off of the brick structure to "skin the shin" ,undoubtedly due to fatigue. Reminds me of another famed Brit, Lord Alfred Tennyson..."into the valley of death, rode the 600"...right into the cannons. Practice and science need to embrace each other in the 21st century...they are not distinct.

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