Research basics can help you think and communicate like a scientist. Once you get the basic attitude and jargon, you have a much better handle on how to read and apply studies to coaching and training athletes. These tools are key to making smart training and coaching decisions.
Most of us are very attached to our training and coaching philosophy and beliefs. But if we are rigid and inflexible about the methods we are passionate about, we're doomed to become stagnant and uncoachable.
However, if we adopt Mr. Spock's attitude, we are better able to remain objective and open to accepting new ideas. In essence, coaches can benefit from thinking like researchers--the very people who generate the facts on which we develop our coaching methods and philosophies.
These are the attitudes that scientists adopt:
Be skeptical. Anything you find out from a study is questionable. There's room for doubt in everything--even your own best coaching methods.
Be objective. Most of us have difficulty controlling our own bias, but thinking like a scientist means you must be impartial and open to any outcomes even if they conflict with your own beliefs.
Just give the facts. Scientists do not tell anyone what is good for them or what decisions they should make. They report the facts. It's up to coaches to decide how to apply the facts for individual athletes in local situations.
See the big picture. Isolated facts are not so helpful. Scientists try to integrate the results of each study into some meaningful order and test theories. Coaches, too, benefit from looking at how any new facts fit into the body of knowledge, rather that accept a single study as the absolute truth.
The truth. Nothing is true unless you can observe it directly, and direct observation is difficult when it comes to athletes. Most training methods are based on principles and theories, rather than facts.
The scientific attitude is important for understanding research, but studying athletes (the social sciences) adds special challenges. Thinking like a scientist can help you be more objective about the best coaching methods, and also be more open to new ideas and opinions that can take your performances to the next level.