NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 115: David Joyce and Daniel Lewindon

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D, David Joyce, MS, and Dan Lewindon, MSc, PT
Coaching Podcast January 2022

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This episode unites strength and conditioning perspectives across three continents. David Joyce and Dan Lewindon, the co-editors of High-Performance Training for Sports, discuss their new book, including the high-caliber list of expert contributors from around the world. Discussion centers on the expansion of performance environments to include new perspectives, and the increased need for professional collaboration to deliver maximally effective training programs. Learn about “Zombie Killers,” as Joyce and Lewindon share with NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, in an episode that provides insight into everyday coaching practices. 

Find David on Twitter: @DavidGJoyce | Find Dan on Twitter: @DanLewindon | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“A lot of textbooks were, and still are, written very academically, which is great and we need that. But what we wanted was like a user's guide and operating manual.” 7:38

“It's more about how do you set the right conditions, the right environment to influence change, have the right behaviors and language to really make a difference to your athlete, have the right ability to engage and work with stakeholders, either your own type of practitioners, S and C coaches, nutritionists, or across different disciplines.” 13:02

“But I think inevitably, for example, when I'm hiring people to work for me, technical skills are a given, aren't they? It is your ability to have the right behaviors, empathy, and feel for the environments you're in, and the ability to make a difference, often in my sport with limited contact time.” 20:38

“I think the value, as you describe, is gaining a generalist knowledge across all areas. I think it's really important because it enables you to have better conversations, as you've described, across different domains, disciplines, technical experts, which I think is really important. And inevitably, there will be wisdoms, hopefully, throughout the piece that add value to what you do day to day in whatever context you work in.” 25:31

Transcript

[00:00:00.72] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, episode 115.

[00:00:04.62] But I think inevitably, for example, when I'm hiring people that work for me, technical skills are a given, aren't they? It is your ability to have the right behaviors, empathy, and feel for the environments you're in, and the ability to make a difference.

[00:00:20.14] This is the NSCA's Coaching Podcast where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.

[00:00:30.85] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Today we're joined by David Joyce and Daniel Lewindon, co-editors of High Performance Training for Sport, Second Edition, which was released this year by Human Kinetics. David is joining us from Sydney, Australia. Great to have you with us.

[00:00:51.57] Yeah, Thanks for having me, Eric. Pleasure to be here.

[00:00:54.65] And Dan, you're in the UK right now. Awesome. We've had to work a couple of time zones here just to get this episode going. So nice to have you.

[00:01:04.95] Thank you, mate. Good to be here.

[00:01:07.02] So to get started, I wanted to give you each a chance to share your background in the field. Then we'll dive into learning a little bit more about the book. David, start us off if you would. Lead us through your path into the profession.

[00:01:20.61] Sure thing. So I started off as a physiotherapist, sort of Australia's version of a physical therapist-come-athletic trainer, I suppose. And had done a lot of work in pro sport and what I had realized was I love that because I love the problem solving aspect of it. But it gave me an incomplete picture of what performance was. And a lot of my friends and colleagues were strength coaches in pro sport and so I went down that route, and sort of did all my qualifications and my master's degree in strength conditioning and really worked in that field through there.

[00:02:04.79] So I'd sort of started in elite sport before I became an S and C coach, which is a little bit different to what some of your listeners might have experienced themselves. But what I realized was that it gave me a much better picture of what actually performance was, whether it was as a physiotherapist, like understanding the performance aspect of rehab and the like, or as a strength coach understanding injury and injury risk.

[00:02:32.48] And I guess the last probably 12 to 15 years I've been a performance director where I've run sports teams. And my [INAUDIBLE] I suppose, has been to lead and work with a group of strength and conditioning coaches, sports scientists, doctors, physios, physiologists, nutritionists, and psychologists to maximize the performance of an athlete or a group of athletes in a range of different sports around the world. And nowadays, I'm probably a little bit less athlete facing and now doing a lot more stuff in sport strategy and decision making.

[00:03:11.91] So yeah, a bit of a different journey, I suppose. But one that's given me enormous number of opportunities. It's obviously led to us being able to connect today.

[00:03:26.22] That's great. Dan, I want to jump over to you. And why don't you tell us about your path into the profession and also let us know how you connected with David initially as well.

[00:03:39.66] Oh there's a story. So I guess my journey is pretty similar to Dave's. 20 years or so in elite sport, background as a physical therapist, athletic trainer within the UK. Did a lot of work in rugby union at a kind of club and international level. And a bit like Dave, was interested in, I guess, elite rehab and the synergy between physical therapy, athletic training conditioning, and really effectively preparing your athletes to go back and perform on the field.

[00:04:09.06] So as a result, did some further studies like Joyce in S and C and exercise science. And I guess that enhanced my ability to then work across that divide within the kind of health and performance based. Since then, again similar to Joyce, I'm now essentially a performance manager. So my role is to be head of performance science and medicine for British tennis in the UK. And essentially, that's to lead and manage, again, a team of doctors, physios, nutritionists, psychologists et cetera, across that kind of human health and performance, and also innovation space within the UK.

[00:04:46.71] So yeah, pretty similar to Dave. In terms of how we met, we went back in 2003, I think, at a course in the UK. We had a few beers and got on well and kept in touch really closely. And our paths kind of crossed over at numerous points the next couple of years. And I guess culminating, in around about 2010, I think, Joyce, we met up at an England training camp when I was working for England rugby. Again, had a couple of beers. Had a bit of a chat. And we set about this idea of what was missing in the S and C, physio interface space.

[00:05:29.79] And it was around the time, certainly in the UK, where directors of performance or performance leads became an interesting thought. And I guess for us there was two or three reasons that drove us to the first edition of the book. One of them being that synergy between health and human performance. Another being an unbelievable opportunity to try and grab hold of and connect to some genuine world class experts and get them to write their stories for us, but also for the public. And yes, we decided that would be a really good idea and now here we are, some years later.

[00:06:05.72] It's great. I like that what's missing approach, and then it brings together the first edition of the book. And just looking at the author list, one thing that jumps out to me is just so many different perspectives represented from chapter to chapter. I like that it covers a lot of the pertinent topics and discussions that are some of the challenging questions in the field today, managing athletes from a mental standpoint.

[00:06:37.25] We don't have all the answers there. We're still working through some of that. And even a chapter on working with youth athletes, which we don't always get a lot of experience, those of us working in elite sport or high level sport or even at the college level, we don't always have a ton of experience working with youth athletes. So I feel like you cover so many topics in this book.

[00:07:05.35] David, I want to give you a chance to speak to why was this book written from your perspective and what was really your inspiration for it.

[00:07:15.43] Well, similar to what Dan just said, I think what we wanted to do was to learn about everything as much as we could and thought, well we could just speak to all these amazing people. And then felt that it was actually rather quite selfish to be able just to keep that within our heads and we also felt that, as Dan said, that there was something missing.

[00:07:38.98] A lot of textbooks were, and still are, written very academically, which is great and we need that. But what we wanted was like a user's guide and operating manual. So if you had Stu McMillan and JB Morin come in to your organization to talk about speed, this is what they would talk about. They're not talking about all the academic studies. It's their view of it. And to that end, what we wanted to do was recruit the very best in the world.

[00:08:04.96] And Dan and I have been in this game for a very long time now and we're lucky enough that many of these people are our friends. And so we're able to tap them. But also what we wanted to do was we came up with a skeleton of all the chapters that we wanted. And then if there was someone in that particular chapter field or domain that we didn't know, we reached out to our network or we just looked in our own resources and said, well, who is the best in the world at this? And then we just approached them.

[00:08:35.14] And I guess the great thing about the first book being so successful and being translated in seven or eight different languages, we're just so fortunate that it is on the shelves of so many people. It meant that the on-ramp to get authors the second time around was even easier because people wanted to be associated with this. Because I think they see the value proposition for everyone.

[00:09:01.10] So I guess the ambition behind doing the second one-- The first one was pure naivety. The second one was more about-- The first edition was probably four or five years old or something like that. The publishers came to us and said, well, we want to do a second edition. And Dan and I still had trauma, we still had scars from the first one.

[00:09:28.20] And we said, well, we're actually not going to do something if it's just a small iteration of the first one. Because most second editions, as you know, Eric, are about a 30% change. And they slap on a new cover and put a few words in here and there and maybe a couple of different diagrams in the odd new chapter. Whereas Dan and I felt that if we were going to go to the well again and do something, because it's a big undertaking, we wanted it to be completely revamped in keeping with the way the industry is evolving as well.

[00:10:04.51] So we said to the publishers, Human Kinetics, that we would only do it if we could effectively write a new book. And I think the fact is that it's about 80% different. There's 16 new chapters, 35 new contributors, because what we wanted was it to be engaging enough for us to work on, but more importantly, we wanted a really strong value proposition. So that if you bought it, you wouldn't be disappointed by buying the second one. You'd actually go, oh, all right fantastic. This is the same title, it's the same style, but it's a new book.

[00:10:39.01] And that's how we got to it. And we started it, probably I reckon, two and a half to three years ago now. And it's fantastic to have it in the rearview mirror and on the shelves around the world. It's fantastic.

[00:10:53.76] Yeah, like I mentioned, I love how it has the traditional training topics, the strength training, the speed development, plyometrics, but looking at flexibility and mobility with Vernon Griffith. And we all know how outside the box a thinker he is in terms of the methods he's using to do that. So I really like how this book brings together sort of the old and the new, in a way.

[00:11:23.46] And it kind of brings me to the John Kiely chapter where he talks about coaches should be zombie killers. And we are reinventing terms for the coaching role all the time. I have never once heard of a coach, as a zombie killer. So I want to ask you guys a little, Dan, we'll start with you.

[00:11:48.48] What are some of the zombies that get tackled by this book, some of the maybe traditional views that maybe aren't as founded by the research today, and just some of the findings that are out there? What's your thoughts on that?

[00:12:09.75] So just before I start, the John Kiely chapter that you talk to, I'll never forget, I was sitting in a train station in London and John phoned me up and said, I'm going to do this chapter. It's going to be a bit different. And I said, well, what do you mean? And he said, I'm going to talk about zombie killers. And I thought he was taking a mick. And about three months later he produced this chapter, and it's a wonderful chapter, isn't it.? But for me, I had to read it, I had to read it 15 times to get my head around it.

[00:12:39.45] Yeah, I guess it's, just following on Joyce a bit, I mean there's stuff there where this is part of our own personal journey as well. I think eight or nine years ago, this was about the synergy between S and C and physio and best practice through the eyes of the coach, real genuine wisdom from the best in the world. And I think if you transform that forward and move forward now to the current day, it's more about the athlete and coach interface. It's more about how do you set the right conditions, the right environment to influence change, have the right behaviors and language to really make a difference to your athlete, have the right ability to engage and work with stakeholders, either your own type of practitioners, S and C coaches, nutritionists, or across different disciplines.

[00:13:25.12] So I think it's kind of grown with us. And I think for me, that the biggest takeaway in terms of the new, is it's much more about the how. You can have a lot of knowledge, as we all do, and a lot of technical expertise, but unless you can grasp the softer skills, you're never going to have the kind of influence and impact that you could. And for me personally, I think that's the new.

[00:13:51.09] I guess from a more technical perspective, clearly, as Joyce said, there's genuine wisdom in this, which is people who have been in the field for 20, 30, 40 years, giving their big story and their key takeaways to really influence hopefully coaching practice on the floor. And as a result, there's some blended modern science.

[00:14:15.31] So for example, I guess picking one out of the sky, if we looked at the nutrition for performance chapter, there's a real blend there of high level modern academia around physiological demands of sport and understanding that, of understanding energy demands and where it comes from. But equally, there's a great deal, as Joyce said, of practical. How do you actually deliver this?

[00:14:38.25] And some realities, because when you're working in the field, it's not an academic environment, it's often down and dirty, isn't it? You've got limited time to make a difference. You've got athletes. You've got competing priorities. You've got a match to win in three days time. It's, I guess, it's impressing the realities of how to deliver some of this stuff, which is for me particularly important.

[00:15:03.22] David, I'll let you kill some zombies as well here. But how do you view this book, for the coaching community? On Dan's point, there's a lot of experienced practitioners out there, what value do you see this book for them and also young and aspiring coaches that are just getting into the field?

[00:15:29.58] Well, when we look at what makes a successful coach, I think we can buck it into four main domains that every coach needs to understand. So there's knowledge in the first domain, that is all the stuff that we know, all the information that we've got and there's no limit really there. But on top of that, as Dan said, you need to have the competencies to be able to translate that into action.

[00:15:57.10] Then we've got experiences, and then you've got personal attributes. So I think a well-rounded coach has elements of all four of those and can really target the area in which they're deficient as their primary area of self development. And I guess where the playing arena this book is in, is definitely in the knowledge because there's just so much information in here. And so we're definitely playing here.

[00:16:31.55] But the style in which it's written and the way we wanted it to come across, was to translate wisdom and experience of 50 professionals, all the mistakes they've made across their career and into paper. So it's sort of fast tracking those experiences as well. But I guess the main thing with this version that stands out, as opposed to the first edition, is that Dan and I really wanted to have, what we call suspension chapters in there, so it's not enough to know--

[00:17:08.37] So we've got a magnificent chapter about aerobic capacity with Martin Buchheit and Paul Laursen So magnificent chapter. We're just so thrilled to have them on board. But what we don't want to do is just have a bunch of chapters, which is about the X's and O's because, as Dan said, it's all about how you can translate that. How you can effectively inform your practice and how you can influence.

[00:17:34.69] And so these suspension chapters, so we've got Nick Winkelman talking about coaching and cueing, which is one of the most remarkable chapters I've ever read in a sports text. We've got Brett Bartholomew talking about influence. We've got Sam Robertson and Jackie Tran talking about constructing the learning environment. So all of these things, which are traditionally not seen in sports textbooks, which tend to be a little bit more physiology and biomechanics heavy, what we've tried to do is, Dan and I sat down and said, well, what are-- I'll go back a step.

[00:18:09.11] So performance is an output of a complex system. What are the inputs into that? And it's not just the X's and O's and the physiology and the biomechanics. They're important, but by themselves they're not enough. So necessary, but not sufficient. So what's the packing material? What's the extracellular matrix, to use a physiology term, that actually brings all this together. And I think that's one of the main differences in this book as opposed to the first one.

[00:18:39.56] You guys have mentioned the soft skills, the communication, the collaboration, now learning theory, and this is something that comes to mind here in the US. If we go back a number of years, most strength coaches were coming from physical education backgrounds. And nowadays most of us are coming out of exercise science or kinesiology programs and maybe aren't as founded in the pedagogy or analogy of instructional practices and techniques.

[00:19:15.77] It's cool we're here from three different continents. Speak to the field a little bit just from that perspective, because I think it's such an interesting realization of where we were to where we are now, here in the US. Do you see those same trends internationally?

[00:19:34.95] Yeah, certainly there's some commonalities there. Yeah. So I think, even from a personal perspective, if I go back 23, 24 years when I was starting to work in sport, it was very much X's and O's for me. It was very much develop the knowledge to deliver the impact. And I think, naturally rather than on purpose, being a physical therapist, there's a great deal of patient interaction. So you learn those softer skills intuitively as you get into the role. I think if I hadn't had that grounding, I wouldn't be as adept or empathetic in that space as hopefully I am today.

[00:20:14.94] I think in terms of the kind of landscape in the UK, we have, as across the globe, we've got some brilliant practitioners, again on their journeys, some of whom take a very tertiary education route to developing their profession. And they can do BSC, or master's, or even further in terms of academic qualifications.

[00:20:38.75] But I think inevitably, for example, when I'm hiring people to work for me, technical skills are a given, aren't they? It is your ability to have the right behaviors, empathy, and feel for the environments you're in, and the ability to make a difference, often in my sport with limited contact time. And I guess there are some who, either naturally or through their vocational background, really have those skills. And others who don't have them as great or a lesser point in their journey towards getting those. But I guess, yeah, hopefully that answers the question.

[00:21:13.94] Yeah. David, I want to ask you, and you guys are both speaking in from sort of a physio perspective with a high performance and strength and conditioning lens to it, how is, coming from Australia, how is that connection between the sports medicine, physical therapy area and the high performance, strength, and conditioning field, how do you view that?

[00:21:42.08] I think in Australia the connection between sports medicine and strength and conditioning is reasonably mature and I think it's the same in the UK and New Zealand and a number of other countries as well. So we've had a couple of decades of integration, but there's still friction and there's still competition between the various different aspects. But I think most people have signed up to the high performance way of thinking, of integrated and interdisciplinary team viewing performance problem and trying to get performance solutions to those performance problems.

[00:22:20.60] I guess that's the role of the high performance manager and the high performance director, to be able to know which instrument needs to tune up and tune down, a bit like a conductor. So I think it's reasonably mature here. And I'm certainly seeing it evolve. Dan and I are lucky enough to travel around the world and see different institutions and different organizations and different teams, and we're certainly seeing a strong trend towards this collaborative working, no doubt.

[00:22:55.75] You know I really like that thought process. And I think it really applies here today. Coming out of the professional baseball world, for a long time we've had to work hand in hand with our athletic trainers to optimize our performance environments. And one thing we've seen here, and I think this connects to college athletics and even the global landscape of performances, we're highly specialized now in a number of these different areas. And the chapters that you included in your book really speaks to that.

[00:23:32.32] I think it's really interesting and it's great that, coming in from the sports medicine side, maybe originally, you've been able to bring together all these topics. And I think of sports science, as the NSCA moves forward with new sports science initiatives, as a unifier across these different disciplines, across further connecting the performance community with the sports medicine health aspects, better integrating nutrition, sleep, recovery, all these different areas. That's really the goal of the NSCA in trying to forge ahead in some new areas that we haven't been in the past. So it's really exciting to see a book like yours that has such an international author list, has such a broad list of topics, and really takes on the difficult questions.

[00:24:35.62] I really have enjoyed diving in so far. I still have a little bit more reading to do. And I want to wrap up with, Dan, I want to ask you, how should people approach this text? How do you expect someone to pick up the book and approach it and maybe what would be the wrong way to approach it?

[00:25:01.14] Good question. I guess for me, if I'm picking up the book, naturally I'm going to gravitate to some stuff which is of interest and pertinence to me. So for example, currently, mental health and well being, I'm probably going to read that chapter first. And I think if you're picking up the book for the first time, there are always going to be areas of greater interest to you. But I guess the mistake you could make is just focusing in on your own technical areas of excellence or interest.

[00:25:31.11] I think the value, as you describe, is gaining a generalist knowledge across all areas. I think it's really important because it enables you to have better conversations, as you've described, across different domains, disciplines, technical experts, which I think is really important. And inevitably, there will be wisdoms, hopefully, throughout the piece that add value to what you do day to day in whatever context you work in. So I think that's the way I would choose to use it.

[00:25:56.76] And I guess the other thing to say is, as biased as Joyce and I are about this book, this is only one text. And I guess, hopefully, as I say, as Joyce said, it's an eclectic mix of best practice of genuine kind of World class wisdom. But as we said earlier in the piece, the point around personal experiences and personal development and learning and reflection, ultimately is also key in terms of your own journey, as you work your way through the ranks.

[00:26:26.76] David, how about you? What advice do you have for readers?

[00:26:32.74] Well, I think Dan summed it up. I guess that you could read it from page 1 to page 433, but we don't think that was-- The way I would learn it would not be that. I would go, what's my pressing need at the moment? Right, well, I need to get my athletes more agile. So I'll start there. But no that no aspect of performance sits as an island. Everything is interconnected. Everything is interconnected.

[00:27:00.66] So there's a good chance that you'll read Sophia Nimphius' agility chapter and she'll mention movement agility, movement efficiency, sorry. And so you'll go, oh right, well I better read Matt Jordan's chapter about movement efficiency. And then you go, well, movement efficiency can't really exist unless you've got good strength. So you read Eamonn Flanagan's thing about that and putting it all together.

[00:27:27.33] So I imagine, for a reader, it would depend on their individual context as to their starting point. But I imagine that if they're anything like me, they will jump from chapter to chapter all over the place, and dive in bits here and dive in bits there because I think that's more reflective of the way we learn. And the fact that performance is in the outcome of output of a complex system.

[00:27:54.70] And the reason we put it in chapters is simply because in books that's what you have to do. The reality is that life doesn't work, and certainly performance doesn't work, in chapter 1, chapter 2, but that's just the format that we have. But that's not to say that the reader needs to read it that way. That's just the way we have to publish it.

[00:28:17.44] So that's High Performance Training for Sports. And I want to give you both a chance if people want to reach out, ask you questions, and connect, what's the best contact information for you? Dan, let's start with you. Twitter is good, @DanLewindon, LinkedIn, Dan Lewindon, email, alwayshappydanLewindon@mac.com.

[00:28:41.65] Perfect. How about you, David?

[00:28:44.35] Twitter, @DavidGJoyce and probably LinkedIn is probably another good one. So really happy to engage. And one of the things that we find just absolutely delightful is when people get the book and put pictures of it up on social media and talk about what they like. And that is genuinely, that's the best payment that we get. Like books don't make you rich at all. And I'm sure you know that, Eric.

[00:29:13.39] But I guess the payment for us is being able to see that the value that it's getting around the world, whether it's in the states, in Sweden, in Brazil or whatever. And the chance to connect with people like yourself and organizations like the NSCA have been just the cherry on the top for us. So thanks for the opportunity.

[00:29:35.33] It's been fun talking about it. You spoke to the why this book got started, how the topics came together, and I think that really connects with people. So David, Dan, I really appreciate you taking the time today. To our listeners, thanks for tuning in. And we'd also like to thank Sorinex exercise equipment. We appreciate their support.

[00:29:58.43] From the NSCA, thank you for listening to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. We serve you, the coaching community. So follow, subscribe, and download for future episodes. We look forward to connecting with you again soon and hope you'll join us at an upcoming NSCA event or in one of our special interest groups. For more information, go to nsca.com.

[00:30:20.92] This was the NSCA's Coaching Podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.

Reporting Errors: To report errors in a podcast episode requiring correction or clarification, email the editor at publications@nsca.com or write to NSCA, attn: Publications Dept., 1885 Bob Johnson Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Your letter should be clearly marked as a letter of complaint. Please (a) identify in writing the precise factual errors in the published podcast episode (every false, factual assertion allegedly contained therein), (b) explain with specificity what the true facts are, and (c) include your full name and contact information.

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Eric L. McMahon, MEd, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F, RSCC*D

Strength & Conditioning Coach, NSCA Headquarters, Colorado Springs, CO, United States

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Eric McMahon is the Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager at the NSCA Headquarters in Colorado Springs. He joined the NSCA Staff in 2020 with ove ...

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David Joyce, MS

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Dan Lewindon is the Head of Performance Science and Medicine for the LTA (National Governing Body of Tennis in the UK). He is responsible for the lea ...

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