Decision Paralysis.

This is a fleshing out a Twitter Thread you can read here. ⬇️

https://twitter.com/WSWayland/status/1495351010956566529

Talking to a number of young coaches the pain of not being sure what to do is very real. The anxiety it induces can be career harming and your leave athletes worse off.

Here’s a short thread of how we work through it. ⬇️

Older coaches have experience & thus confidence to make decisions with the information they have to hand.

What seems obvious to an experienced coach, may seem worth trifling over for the inexperienced or very scientism fixated graduate.

This experience comes from;

#1 Being on the job

#2 Iteration over long time frames

#3 Coming up in a time of slower information availability, allowing deep assimilation of ideas.                     

#4 Heuristics

Being only 21 or so means you have 0 experience and no time to iterate an approach. So you turn to the one thing you’ve grown up with YouTube & social media. The problem here is there just so much information, a torrent a mile wide and an inch deep. Mixed in is triviality & meaningless information too. This is the downside of the information age we were warned about.

We are start to seeing the fruits of young generation of coaches raised on fast information. My generation of coaches was the last to benefit from slow information in the form of training books.
Without the distraction of internet dilettantes we drank information in, disseminating it and integrating it.

All this information leads to a phenomena known as decision paralysis.
By having multiple decision to make means we can’t make decisions quickly or effectively.

This is the paradox of choice.

With so many methods available which do we choose? The result is inaction.
This in it’s self causes anxiety. So paradoxically…

There is freedom in constraint. We’ve been taught our whole lives the freedom of choice is what defines life here in the western world. What we actually need is guidelines or the room to make mistakes.

So what do we do to help these coaches?

The first thing is recognising that it’s happening. Once you understand the effect indecision is having you can tackle it. The bottom-up approach from Mladen Jovanovic to training can help.


Most athletes don’t really need elaborate periodised schemes with everything laid out for months in advance. Taking on the situation as you find it makes life easier sometimes. This diffuses all your preconceptions or future anxiety. Deal with the reality of the situation rather the fiction you have crafted. Logistics, acutally meeting the athlete where they are and being patient are all important. Get in the weight room make decisive actions with small consequences. A simple place to start is as Make Guadango approach leave them feeling better than they started.

Have a rough structure and meet the athletes where they are. This bottom up situation occurs typically when faced with a new athlete or group of athletes in a time pressured environment. Trust your assessments and value judgements, most great coaches blend objective & subjective measures.

Have a few assessments that allow you to figure out the direction of travel for training.
It takes out some guess work. Reverse engineer the sport as Kier Wenham-Flatt puts it.

Identify what the athlete needs and train towards that. Remember as strength coach it will be Strength, Speed, Power or Mobility work. Or a combination of these. Advanced complex/contrast potentiation training wait for another day.

Be comfortable with not being able to control all the variables. Sports science often treats Training like an input = output game. Real life is farm more complex than you know, learn to flow with it.

Learn to understand phenomenology. Often objectives have to bend to the subjectiveness of a situation. you can design the best training session known to man, but if the athlete is having a bad day good luck with your compliance.

use of phenomenological methods in sport psychology could help rescue research in this area from its current obsession with measurement and prediction.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17511321.2011.602582

A tool experienced coaches use are heuristics. Heuristics ‘practical method that is not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, or rational, but is nevertheless sufficient‘ thats can cover things from commonly prescribed reps and sets, to training duration, loading and volume. Good coaches dont look for perfect they look for good enough under the circumstances.

What makes decision anxiety worse is issue is the ability to think critically is swamped the by emotional weight of potentially making a mistake, in an age where so much is public thanks to social media the burden is greater than 20 years ago. The idea that we fail forwards is one that we need to embrace, training experience is an iterative one. Principles guide what you do and methods are how you express those principles.

Having the robustness to disseminate, defend & attack ideas in a dispassionate fashion is a life skill sorely lacking.

If you enjoyed this there’s a whole section in Strength Coach Network Fundamentals Course dedicated to ways of thinking. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Presenting: Strength Coach Network Fundamentals https://www.strengthcoachnetwork.com/fundamentals?orid=24950&opid=38

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