any strength and conditioning coaches will claim that training an athlete is more art than science. While there is some truth to this, having a sound rationale for the contents of a training program can not be undervalued. Knowledge of the research and practical experience need to work hand in hand in order to provide the best results for an athlete.
An unfortunate but not uncommon response by strength coaches when the topic of research is brought up is "I coach on/in the field/weightroom not in a lab". What they are forgetting is that practical advancements have come as the result of laboratory based research whether they know it or not. For example it is common place for coaches to use programs that involve 3 sets of a given exercise. Where did 3 come from, why not just 1, or 5, isn't more better? The truth is that a study was done to determine the optimal number of sets for strength training. The results showed that comparing 1 set to 2 sets the subjects that performed 2 sets showed a 50% high improvement in strength, and when comparing 2 sets to 3 sets the subjects performing 3 sets showed a 33% higher improvement in strength. They continued to compare higher numbers of sets but it was clear that after 3 sets the results started to show diminishing returns.
With that being said the reverse is just as dangerous. Coaches must also avoid falling into the trap of taking what they read at face value. If a study sounds too good to be true it probably is, one publication does not constitute evidence. Research of a topic must be replicated and verified before it can be considered valid. Only when there is an accumulation of evidence on a topic should it be incorporated into a training program.
To sum up, a coach is responsible for every aspect of their athlete’s training program. They need to have sound rationale for the contents of a training program, which should be based on a large body of scientific evidence.