Dear Doctor Ninja,
Science has so many great things to offer, but how do I decide when science should change the way I coach? I see p-values, effect sizes, and statistical significance everywhere. Sometimes I see effects that are “significant”, but don’t really make much of a difference at all. And they’d be very difficult to implement!
Everyone hopefully brings many great things to a relationship. Maybe they make a great chicken carbonara. Or are level-headed in a crisis. Some people are really smart and witty. Others bring warmth and affection (not that smart, witty, warm, affectionate are in any way mutually exclusive.) When do you decide when someone should change the way you see the world? The relationship you have with science and change is not very different.
I got an email this evening from my gym today. It said, “When is the best time to workout?” It linked me to an infographic saying I could work out in the early morning, in the early evening, at night or at mid-day. Each option had a little list of benefits for each one; for example, Night workouts had the listed benefit of “Higher testosterone levels, which will boost your muscle gain” whereas Morning workouts had the listed benefit of an “early morning endorphin boost to start your day off on a high.”
Hey, I want muscle gains! Being high sounds great! How do I choose which one I want more? Muscle…being high…muscle….being high… I was afraid to look at the other choices; I mean what if working out at lunch makes me live forever? “Fuck,” I said to myself. I worked out in the mid-morning today.
“Question the start” is the first item in the Critical Mass Manifesto. It’s the most important step. Always question whether you COULD change. If the change requires you buy new expensive equipment, you have to decide whether the possible benefits make that price worth it. If the change is something that your athletes would never be able to do for time reasons, for physical limitation reason, or for the reason that they will just openly revolt and burn down your gym, you can’t make the change.
I don’t know about you, but if I work out at night, I can’t sleep for at least 2 hours afterwards. I want more muscle, but not if it screws up every single morning because I didn’t get enough sleep. No matter how hot the science looks, we’re not going home together.
Every change you consider is made within a context. That’s the heart of evidence-based practice and the core of your relationship with the science you are thinking of letting into your life.