Practice Based Evidence & Coaching Significance
In the move to evidence based practice are we shooting ourselves in the foot once again? So much “evidence based practice” is questionable, inaccurate, fraudulent or flat out wrong. I put my stock in practice-based evidence that I can support with good science where I can. In 45 years of coaching I have found that where it is necessary to produce results coaching (clinical) significance trumps statistical significance. I have yet to see a doctor or a scientist innovate a training method or a technical modification. So much of the time the scientists tell us what can’t be done (talk about barriers and limits) and then coaches and athletes go out and exceed the limits and break though the barriers and records are broken!
Here are some resources that will make you rethink or at least look at evidence based practice in a different light:
- How to lie in sports medicine using statistics, a Youtube video by Rod Whiteley
- Why Most Published Research Findings Are False, an essay by John P. A. Ioannidis
- If you don’t want to read the above then read this article on Ioannidis in The Atlantic
If you want to dig deeper into this and stop following the flock I suggest you read these two books:
- Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto)
- The Cult of Statistical Significance: How the Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives (Economics, Cognition, and Society)
Above all think critically and don’t be afraid to slay the scared cows of conventional wisdom that stifle innovation and hold us back!
” I put my stock in practice-based evidence that I can support with good science where I can” – I’m curious what you’ve found to be good science, and how you figured out whether it was good or bad? I think its really important coaches, but also people who are trying to eat right, etc.. have a decent BS meter and only apply advice when the science is sound. But this is a hard thing to do!
To be honest, much of the sports science out there has little applicability as they are short term studies in on relatively untrained athletes. What I find better is seeing if the ideas hold up to basic scientific principles…that’s why I’m often bouncing ideas off of you. Some of th better work being done is by the Germans in biomechanics since they are looking at athletes in the field. But a big missing spot is training methods; not many studies in that area. But it is surely needed. Practical evidence is helpful and all we have now, but it can also be misleading due to such small sample sizes and so many variables involved. In other words it is hard to tell what is helping us get better.