That’s Not ‘Proof’

by Ray Gowlett

Let’s discuss the importance of evidence based decision making.

I get asked on a regular basis,  “Ray, what do you think about this study???  Yes or No???”   My response has become…stop thinking like that!  It’s not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question!  What do I mean?

First, if you’re coaching, then you have more in common with an engineer than a scientist. That means, you don’t care about epistemic assumptions or scientific theories…all you care about are real world changes (clinical relevance) and how to maximize results for your clients.  You’re looking for useful tools.

If you’re reading articles to find useful tools, then you have to filter out the ‘less useful’ literature.  Start with these ideas.   Is what you’re reading a useful tool for an individual you’re working with (real world relevance)?  Secondly, is what you’re reading ‘proof’?  (Does it present a strong case for cause and effect?)

If you want to be in the world of reading  ‘science’ that has the potential to be useful for you, then the content you read should be:

  1. Boring to a scientist.
  2. Based on empirical observations of real world outcomes (think 1RM instead of ‘bioavailability’).
  3. Able to describe the methods that were used to achieve the outcome of interest (1RM) in a way that is attainable in your gym, that is, exactly how to achieve the desired goal (outcome of interest).
  4. A randomized control trial/systematic review that has the potential to demonstrate a cause and effect relationship as opposed to an observational study…which is only useful for generating an hypothesis (something you, as a coach, don’t have time to care about).

It’s hard to get into this game at first, but once you get the flywheel spinning, you’ll never look back.

Want a quick test to see where you stack up in the world of ‘useful proof’?  Read the following article and try to answer the following questions. I’ll attach a cheat sheet for you at the bottom.

Is this article ‘proof’ in your books?

Does an article like this get you excited and get you to start making claims of ‘research shows…’?

Did you see any problems with this article?

Have a read, tell me what you think, and then we’ll run it through the UpCoach filter.

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