We have spent the last few articles discussing the use of various approaches and the manipulation of training inputs to improve the preparation and robustness of athletes in the face of competitive sport. 

And a recent podcast featuring John Kiely and interviewer, Ross Tucker, explore a concept that shapes how well our programming and training will work. And funnily enough it has very little to do with the x’s and o’s of training, monitoring or measuring data. The discussion delved into the ongoing research and discussions of John Kiely from the University of Central Lancashire  Institute for Coaching and Performance. He has worked in elite sports and with elite athletes in areas that most people neglect to explore, which is why his research is always insightful, providing more questions than answers. 

From the mid 2000s Kiely has been questioning our approaches to periodisation and whether they are truly scientifically informed or historical in nature. And this journey has seen him shift into the use of complex adaptive system approaches to training and coaching and now into an area of neuroscience known as predictive coding (or predictive planning). The findings in this area apply to how we as humans interact in the world. And the basic nature of its premise is that we do not act (both internally and externally) in accordance with objective reality, but with our perception of that reality. And we all know this. Our physiology can be thrown into chaos when we think that the stick we see ahead on a bush track is a snake. Our adrenaline starts to run, our blood pressure rises, HR skyrockets and we are on edge. But the objective truth is that, in fact, it is a stick, and not the poisonous snake we perceived. 

Kiely goes onto explain that this idea can be used when thinking about how we design and interact with athletes and patients (in the clinical setting), because it is often irrelevant if you have best laid plans, if the person you are interacting with does not perceive the situation in the same way that you do. And more interesting is that their physiology (exactly as in the snake example above), will often follow that perception. 

Using examples Kiely explains that this concept alters the adaptations that will be seen in a performance and rehabilitation setting significantly and is a key area that works to enhance or detract from the outcomes. So we must take note of these effects when we are working in such settings. 

We will look at some further examples and its effects in practice in the following few articles, but we see that understanding these features, and how they influence outcomes when interacting with people in professional settings is clearly what allows for the greatest outcomes to be achieved. We encourage you to have a listen of the podcast and keep an open mind to the ideas, as it may challenge many of us in more than a few ways. 

We will leave you with this question. When working in your professional setting (sports or clinically) do you ever ask the people you are working with what they believe is the best approach to their situation or problem?

Listen to the podcast here: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9yc3MuYWNhc3QuY29tL3JlYWxzY2llbmNlb2ZzcG9ydA/episode/NjE4YmVlZDdiOTNhZjgwMDE0NGY2NmU0?hl=en-AU&ved=2ahUKEwixqezLyLT0AhXwwjgGHdUNDSEQjrkEegQIAhAI&ep=6