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Kelly: [0:04:58] David, welcome to The Ready State Podcast.
David Joyce: [0:05:00] Thanks, Kel. Great to be here. Hi Jules.
Juliet: [0:05:02] Hi. It’s so nice to have you. Hey, so I’m just going to jump right in with a question that Kelly’s going to find annoying, but I’m doing it. We have a lot of coaches and strength and conditioning folks and physios and the like who 100 percent know who you are, and then we also have a lot of people who do not fit that definition who are listening to The Ready State Podcast. So I know you have written several books, you seem to have a lot of education and advanced degrees-
Kelly: [0:05:29] And are held in high esteem.
Juliet: [0:05:30] Held in high esteem by my husband and other people in the strength and conditioning world. Can you give us just a little bit of background about who is David Joyce?
David Joyce: [0:05:39] Sure. Well, first and foremost, I’m a dad to two terrific young little tigers. I’ve got Matilda, the little fox, and Rory, the little tiger. That’s who I am as a dad. And I guess first and foremost, I’m a coach. So I’m a strength and conditioning coach. I’m a physiotherapist. So not unlike a number of people that would be listening to this. But I view the world through a lens of coaching. So I do a lot of executive coaching now, do a lot of work in strategy. And I view it all as coaching. Parenting as coaching as well. And I’ve been lucky enough to ply this trade around the world for 20 odd years now, a bit over, and in a lot of contexts: Olympic sports, professional sports, you name it. And I’ve been really lucky to have been able to coach and have been coached by some of the best. And I guess I put coach on my immigration form when I go into countries.
Juliet: [0:06:32] You know, it’s interesting because Kelly also, like you, does many things and wears many hats. But I think he also, were he to sort of reduce the myriad of things he does to one thing, it would probably be coach. Sometimes he uses the word teacher. But I think those in many ways are one and the same in his own mind.
Kelly: [0:06:49] I am a dancer.
Juliet: [0:06:50] Well, yeah. I mean that too.
Kelly: [0:06:53] Freestyle dancer. You are also married to a person who has a similar job. Is that right?
David Joyce: [0:07:00] That’s true. That’s true. Yep. Yep. Yep. So Kay, she’s a physio. We met when she crashed a wedding in England when I was living in England. And I like people with a bit of mischief in their eyes, and she’s definitely got that. So I definitely, definitely, definitely got the better end of that deal.
Kelly: [0:07:18] You are talking to us from Sydney, and we love Sydney. And you’re very close to the beach, but not close enough during lockdown to get there. We have heard a lot of… Let me back up. You have pulled off a great miracle in the time of COVID, which was to put out what I think is one of the most important books in high performance, the second edition, in terms of really trying to think about getting people the most bio motor durability, awesome function out of high performers. How have you coped being a coach? I think you made a little pivot, maybe back in grad school, you put this book out. What are you working on and how has COVID sort of shaped your thinking about these processes, because I think I want to take your experience and your brain and your exposure among the highest performers of the world, and see the differences between how people are feeling now and COVID at home and where we’re seeing the changes in our environment and sort of physical selves.
David Joyce: [0:08:24] I’m doing a lot less face to face stuff with athletes these days. I still am, but my ability to scale impact is probably a bit more on the strategic side of things. So my day to day now, Kelly, is very much, so I do a lot of consulting work to the Australian Institute of Sport, to some startups, to universities, and to sporty organizations, both here in Australia and around the world, about how we can make lives for coaches and athletes and support staff better. Not just their lives, their everyday life, but how they can flourish as professionals. And I think that’s probably a better way of me being able to scale. And I’ve relatively recently finished my MBA. And so I view the world through a much more strategic lens than what I did when I was in the gym every single minute of every single day.
But ultimately, and it gets back to my first question that Jules asked about, who do I see myself as, and that’s a coach. And whether I’m coaching via Zoom like so many of us now, or whether I’m coaching on the gym floor, we’re still ultimately trying to get people better through our work. And what we do is influence people, right? So we show them a few things, we might show them a back squat technique or a particular stretch, or a hamstring rehab protocol, or whatever it is. But we’re coaching people better through our words. And that stuff hasn’t changed despite what we’re doing in COVID. That’s the fundamental currency of what we do and what we offer people, I reckon. And if anything, COVID has just accentuated and accelerated that.
Juliet: [0:10:02] So speaking of coaching people in person, I was really excited to ask you a little bit, and I want to talk a lot more about your book. I know Kelly touched on it a little bit, but we’ll get back to that. I know that you were the physiotherapist, which by the way is a way better word than what we use here in the US, physical therapist. That makes Kelly sad.
Kelly: [0:10:19] You know, I just got called out on a podcast with APTA. They were like, “Why do you call yourself a physio and not a physical therapist?” And I was like, “Because all the men and women and people I work with in the world are physios.” And it’s cool.
Juliet: [0:10:31] And physical therapist doesn’t sound as cool. So anyway, this is the thing: Kelly also calls himself a physiotherapist. But anyway, I know you are a physiotherapist, performance coach for multiple Olympic teams. And I would just love to hear a little bit about what you were doing and what that was like.
David Joyce: [0:10:45] Yeah. So I started off as a physiotherapist and then I did my master’s in it. And I was working in Australian Rules and a number of different sports. But I guess it was when I was working in Olympic sports that I started to realize that, ah, just being a physio by itself just doesn’t quite cut it because you’re only seeing the world through one lens, which is why I went heavily down the strength and conditioning route.
So in my view, there are two types of physio, certainly in sport. One is the people that are really gifted with their hands and can sense of one vertebra is rotated by a half a degree compared to another. And I’ve never been that. And in my heart of hearts, I’ve never really believed it either. And so I was much more down the strength and load management route. And as a result, all my friends were strength and conditioning coaches. And so I added that to my armory and it made me a much better physiotherapist, and it made me a really good strength coach as well because I could see through the physio lens.
And that’s what being in Olympic organizations allowed me to do because it’s a much more interdisciplinary team. And then so that really kicked off when I was with Team GB, when I was living in England. But when I worked with Team China up to and leading into and including the London Games in 2008… No, sorry, 2012, beg your pardon. That completely changed the way I coach because I couldn’t speak the language. I can barely get by in English, let alone in Mandarin. And their approach to sport and sport training is just so different to what I was used to. Like they use sport as a skill. So they never pursued athletic, sorry, aerobic capacity or strength. What they did was they just got really good at their sport and they did it so much that strength and aerobic capacity came as a byproduct. So that really shifted the way that I think about things. And I don’t think that’s perfect, but I don’t think the Western approach is perfect either. So what I’ve tried to do is blend the two and really take a holistic look at where we’re sitting in terms of athletic performance.
Kelly: [0:12:59] We’re seeing, and this is a conversation I have with a lot of my friends and members of our staff, that in the United States particularly, we’ve stripped out skill out of particularly the gym. It’s very physiology task based. I put another kilo on the bar, I crank another WOD out, must be better, instead of looking at efficiency or coordination. I obsess on watching Chinese weightlifting videos. Go to my Instagram, I think it’s back now, if you go to Instagram-
Juliet: [0:13:29] I don’t know if it’s back.
Kelly: [0:13:30] You can see who I am. And who I am is like racoon videos, cat videos, Chinese Olympic lifting, and mountain biking. It’s really, it’s very curated.
Juliet: [0:13:39] It’s heavy on the racoon videos, by the way. Heavy on the racoon videos.
Kelly: [0:13:42] Well, you know, that makes sense.
David Joyce: [0:13:44] You’re my go-to racoon guy.
Kelly: [0:13:46] It’s true. I am totally down. We were actually, as an aside, this is really important, I was having dinner with friends and I was talking about having a racoon.
Juliet: [0:13:55] His obsession with racoons.
Kelly: [0:13:56] And this guy at the table casually throws out, he’s like, “Well, I have a racoon.” And I swear, coffee shot out of my nose. And I was like, “Mortal people have raccoons?” He’s like, “Yeah. I’ve had a racoon my whole life.” And I was like, “Oh, okay.” Moving on. So my point is-
David Joyce: [0:14:11] It wasn’t the Tiger King, was it?
Kelly: [0:14:13] No.
Juliet: [0:14:15] Just a regular guy.
Kelly: [0:14:15] Just a man with a racoon. And we really see that when we put the lens of skill in, and the heart of skill is sort of your ability to express positions, all the other physiology sort of becomes irrelevant. Then it’s just like, well, can I hold this position under this metabolic load or this energy system? Or I can hold this position under this strength? Why do you think the stark contrast between those two styles? Is there one that’s better? You said you learned a little bit and you changed. How did it change your thinking there in terms of the skill carrying the physiology?
David Joyce: [0:14:56] I absolutely fundamentally agree with what you’re saying. And I think the Chinese weightlifters are some of the best in the world, right? And they’re just some of the finest movers under the bar. And so they view strength as being important, but you get strength by being good at your job, which is getting a bar from the floor above your head in the most efficient way possible.
And so what they did is they viewed putting more weight on the bar as just a way to add duress to see if your technique holds up. And in the same way, like swimming, so I did a lot of work with Chinese swimming, and let’s just, we’ll pick freestyle as an example. So they go from blocks to touch in 50 meters in say 30 seconds. And you’ve got to do a million reps at that, but with perfect technique. And then once they approved that, then they go, “Okay, well, for the next million you’ve got to do it in 20 seconds. And the next million you’ve got to do it in 28.” And then what happens is that your aerobic capacity improves to cope with the training, not as the… That’s not the horse that leads the cart. It’s just the happy coincidence, the happy side effect.
And so you never, unless it’s in competition, you never see minute lifting in China. They’re never struggling to get a weight above their head in shocking technique, because if they do that, they go, “Well, that’s too heavy; we need to pull that back a bit.” And so that was just very much the approach that I took back to training in the Western world, is to go, “Well, we’re going to really emphasize that. We’re not going to have shit technique in a gym on a bench press or things like that because that’s just, it’s cheating your way up.” And I’m a much bigger stickler for the skill of the sport and adding duress to try to pull the skill up, I suppose.
Kelly: [0:16:45] We believe that high performance sport is a way of understanding best practice, best expressions of physiology, right? So that’s our test kitchen, test kind of laboratory, kind of teaching hospital, so we can transform society. You now are consulting with businesses. You just got an MBA. How has that thinking changed how you coach humans who maybe aren’t thinking of themselves as physical animals but psycho emotional sort of cognitive athlete persons? Does that fit over because you are sort of now taking all of the teaching that you’ve learned and a way of communicating change in behavior, and all of a sudden you have this different conversation?
David Joyce: [0:17:32] Yeah. It’s funny because you realize just how socially leveraged sport is or how leveraged society is to sport because we think, those of us that have been in sport all our lives, we think that that’s just the world, you know? But when we look at the revenues of the big four sports in America, so baseball, basketball, et cetera, that is roughly comparable to the revenue of the cardboard box industry. So you realize that actually sport is big. But it’s nowhere near as big as what other people do. It just has a much bigger social impact, I suppose. And our stories that we get from sport are attractive into business.
And I guess the thing is, is trying to tease it what is good practice. And you said something earlier about sport providing best practice. I’ll push back just a little bit and say that I think sport’s messy and it’s a complex adaptive system, and complex adaptive systems don’t lend themselves to best practice, just good practice, because there are a number of different ways of skinning a cat, right? So if you want to prepare an athlete for a championship, it would be different to the way I would do it. Yours is good practice; mine is good practice. And you probably-
Kelly: [0:18:51] I like that.
Juliet: [0:18:51] Both could lead to the same end result of… Right.
David Joyce: [0:18:53] Exactly. Exactly. We get caught in this best practice mindset, which means that there is one way of doing it, and therefore we don’t remain intellectually humble. We just think, this is the way you’ve got to do it because this is what the textbook says. And life ain’t like that, certainly not in my experience. It might be if you’re calibrating a force play, but that’s a really simple, linear experience. It’s not what we do.
Juliet: [0:19:20] So I just want to go back to this whole question Kelly was asking you about skill and technique. Maybe this is a question for both of you. But maybe outside of professional sport and then some CrossFit gyms perhaps, how do you get people to care about skill and technique? And especially one thing that always comes to my mind is youth sports. I think often there’s some care to it, but having seen my own kids in a lot of youth sports, I think it is 100 percent not a focus and then certainly isn’t for everyone who just wants to ride their Peloton or whatever. I don’t know. How do you guys get people to care? Like regular people or youth athletes or youth.
Kelly: [0:19:56] Parents of kids.
Juliet: [0:19:57] Parents. How do you get people to care about technique and value it as much as whatever else they’re working on sport specific wise?
David Joyce: [0:20:04] Behavior change is hard, right? So there’s got to be a real value proposition to it. And the way we know humans work is the value proposition has got to be one that is, there’s got to be a bit of a burning platform. So you’ve got to be able to sell the performance case or you’ve got to be able to sell the injury case. And injury case is pretty hard unless someone gets an injury, and then usually they go, “Aw, geez, I wish I would have known that first.” And so there is, it’s that burning platform.
The only other way you can change it is by getting in early with good coaching or to have regulation. Now, I’m not a huge fan of regulation. I don’t think that it works in a lot of instances. So I don’t know how it would work here. So you’ve got to… What’s the burning platform? The most compelling burning platforms are going to be the loss mindset, when people get injured. But that seems a little bit inhumane. So you’ve got to have influence through the performance mindset and show how actually doing this improves performance. That’s why injury prevention programs never work because they’re coming from this nebulous-
Juliet: [0:21:10] Yeah. No one cares until they get injured.
David Joyce: [0:21:12] And can you imagine having that as your job title, as injury prevention? Like every injury that you therefore get is you not doing your job. It’s a shocking job title.
Kelly: [0:21:20] Cavity prevention.
David Joyce: [0:21:22] Ah. Awful. Awful.
Kelly: [0:21:24] Can you see why David Joyce is my idol of coaching, how he talks? I basically just rip everything off that you say. Or it’s just confirmation bias that I think I’m moving in the right direction because I think that’s the case so often, especially in the physio land, talk about bio motor output as the only thing. If we can have better expression, then we’re going to get all of these other things in the bargain in good practices. I really, I think that that’s 100 percent right.
It’s difficult, especially, and I want to just give homage to good practices, because it is so difficult for a team to win a championship or an athlete to win a medal. The number of things that have to happen around someone’s nutrition and quality coaching and sleep and getting there on the bus and not getting sick, and having decent coaching and a good relationship with the team. It’s almost like alchemy. And so I heard someone recently say, they were talking about the Giants right now in baseball having a good run, and they were saying that it’s like a miracle watching them play right now; all the things are hitting. And from the outside, if you didn’t know, it’s almost an impossible thing that’s happening. I think that’s why sport is so powerful.
David Joyce: [0:22:35] It’s so powerful. And yet, as humans we still try and reduce it to one decision or one coach or whatever, as they had all the impact. And it’s a rainforest. So there’s a million different separate but inseparable parts, right? And you cannot just take one bit out. That’s why performance is an adaptive system. You can’t run… If you do a… break the record in the back squat in the gym for your organization, the strength coach will get the credit and the athlete will get the credit, but they couldn’t have done that if they weren’t appropriately fueled or if the physio hadn’t done the work with their back mechanics. There’s a tug here and it’s a network and that’s so important. The fact that one coach gets sacked or one coach gets all the praise for all the output is just, it’s crazy. It’s the way we are and I’m not… I sound like a crazy old man chatting here. But it’s just, it doesn’t fit with reality, right?
Kelly: [0:23:32] Two questions. If that reality is as you say, and I agree with you, are we able to apply that algorithm, to other aspects of our lives, because I’m very much the face of The Ready State, and people say, “Your work is amazing.” I was just at a conference this weekend. They say I’m the best. And I’m like, “Yes, I know.” But I say, “You have no idea how rad our team is and you can’t even see that.” None of this would even happen, we wouldn’t be able to take a credit card or put something on the internet or edit a video or make the video in the first place if it wasn’t the whole thing. Do you think that that systems function approach, I’m sure there’s a better name for it, can be transferred back? That’s what I mean when I say we take these lessons from what we’re thinking about getting good output.
David Joyce [0:24:18] So what you’re touching on there is what I think is the most important job of the leader of the head coach or whatever it is, to get the culture right. And the leader is frequently but not always the smartest person in the room, but they must remain intellectually humble and go, “Right, how do I curate the environment for other people to succeed?”
Juliet: [0:24:39] Sorry. Just need to stop you there and make sure that you’re aware that I’m the leader of The Ready State and not Kelly. Just so you know.
Kelly: [0:24:45] He was saying that.
Juliet: [0:24:48] I know you were really about to say something really profound.
Kelly: [0:24:48] He looked at you, Juliet.
Juliet: [0:24:50] But I just had to make sure you were aware.
Kelly: [0:24:53] He’s not a fool.
David Joyce: [0:24:54] I can’t even see the side of the screen that Kelly’s on. I’m looking straight. I’m looking-
Juliet: [0:25:00] I’m totally kidding, by the way. I’m totally kidding. Not really.
David Joyce: [0:25:02] I’m looking into the windows of your soul there, Jules. So yeah, that’s the important bit, is being able to curate the environment upon which really good decisions are made.
Kelly: [0:25:12] I like that word better, curate the environment versus culture, because culture I feel like has a bunch of baggage, that people are like, “Yeah, we have good culture.” I’m like what is that? What does that mean? What’s granular? Be granular about what it means to have good culture, right? and I don’t think people can.
David Joyce: [0:25:26] It’s certainly become a buzzword in the last sort of 15 years or even 10 years, I suppose. And it is sort of one of those things that’s easy to say and really difficult to implement or to change. It’s like that U.S. Supreme Court judge who said, “I don’t know what pornography is, but I can tell you when I see it.” And it’s the same sort of thing with culture. It’s hard to define, but you know when you’re in a good culture. And the good culture is frequently but not always associated with good outcomes. You can have a really good culture with terrible outcomes.
Kelly: [0:25:59] Ted Lasso.
David Joyce: [0:26:00] There you go. So what a fantastic thing. I’m not quite up to date on it. I think I’m an episode or two behind. They don’t always go hand in hand, right?
Juliet: [0:26:10] Yeah, but I mean I think the way I see it is, and I think most people, you’d rather be part of a great culture that arguably doesn’t make the metrics, the sort of external metrics that we’re supposed to make, if you have like a happy, simpatico experience in life, right? Like who cares about whatever these external metrics are. If I go to work every day and I enjoy the people I work with, that trumps so many other external metrics.
Kelly: [0:26:37] Yeah. And I don’t think it’s a non zero sum. It’s not one or zero, right? And if your job is to win, I think you have to have both, right?
Juliet: [0:26:44] Right.
David Joyce: [0:26:45] You have to have both. But I just think that winning is increasingly seen as too blunt a metric for success. It’s just far too blunt. And that’s why we look at businesses in their ESG, environmental, social and governance, their triple bottom line is actually as or more important than just profits. And in sport, we’ll see that good culture is rewarded with other aspects, not just championship rings.
Juliet: [0:27:12] So I’m going to take a little right turn. I want to go out of order and talk about your 2016 book about injury prevention. And if you could tell us a little bit about that book, and I was especially interested in hearing you talk about the injury proofing… Sorry, injury profiling process. That didn’t sound right as it came out.
Kelly: [0:27:30] Especially right now there’s a whole bunch of physios in the internet sphere who say things like, “Injury prevention’s impossible.” That’s their-
Juliet: [0:27:39] And sorry, I was really struck, even though I said it wrong just now, injury profiling is really an interesting way of thinking about it. So I’d love to hear more about the book generally and about that.
David Joyce: [0:27:50] Sure. Sure. So the book was born out of I guess a bit of a realization that there are lots of performance textbooks, but very few of them have got really strong, implementable tactics right from the very beginning, written by some of the world’s best. So a lot of them are evidence based. This is so and so in 2014 to this, blah blah blah. This was countered by so and so in 2015. And it becomes like a really difficult read for anything other than an academic source or academic reason. And what we actually wanted was something that could be actually on the gym floor with people, and they would go, “Bang, okay, I can do this. If I had Rett Larson coming to my organization talking about warmups, what would he say? Bang, there it is in the book.” And so it’s like the world’s best conference between two covers. That was the initial intention.
What we found was that it actually hit the niche really well. So it sold incredibly well around the world. I think it was because we came at it from a standpoint of there’s one person that is an absolute expert in absolutely every aspect of performance. So we wanted to get people that were writing about their one word. If there one word is aerobic capacity, if their one word is, I don’t know, jumping and landing, let’s write about your wheelhouse, and then we put it all together into a book. So that was what it was. And it was written in a language that was easy to understand. You didn’t need a dictionary. And it was implementable from day one.
And to the second part of your question, Jules, about injury profile, I stumbled on the idea when I was working in the UK. I was thinking, well, how is it that we get so many people into the country without doing cavity searches for every single one of them, and who does profiling the most. And it just struck me that probably the organization with the most background in this were the border agencies. So I actually went and spoke to them and said, “How do you risk assess? There’s a million people coming in to the UK every day. How do you do this?” And they said, “Well, we have this generic warning index which is…” So they had a generic warning index and they had a specific warning index. So the generic warning index might be anyone from a particular red flagged country. And a specific warning index would be someone with a dodgy passport or something. And then they filter it from there. And if you didn’t hit them, you pretty much got a straight breeze through, which is as a white guy, college educated from Australia, I was lucky enough to waltz through on most occasions.
But so I tried to apply that to injury and go, well, we can’t possibly screen for every single injury because there are infinite number of injuries, right? So what are the big risk factors in your particular sport? So let’s just take baseball, for example. It might be elbows, shoulders, hamstrings, and ankles, right? So let’s put a disproportionate amount of our resources into looking at these, knowing that we might miss the odd neck injury. But it’s such a smaller occurrence. So let’s put our major resources into our bigger buckets.
And then have a specific warning index which was about, okay, so you’ve had a previous ACL or you’re a little bit older and therefore more prone to lumbar spine degenerative changes or whatever. So you’re basically filtering out on these strands. So you’ve come from an infinite number of injuries to maybe the eight or so that are most likely to occur. It’s just a much better, more targeted way of spending your resources.
Juliet: [0:31:36] I really love that and relate to it so much. And I just have to tell you a story, and I imagine this happens to your friends and family too, but one of the pitfalls of being close to Kelly is that I don’t know what it is about-
Kelly: [0:31:48] There are a lot of pitfalls being close to me, by the way.
Juliet: [0:31:50] Well, the one in particular is recreational runners. I’ve been driving around in cars for 20 years with Kelly and you see a lot of recreational runners, and there’s a lot of really bad recreational runners. And so I think the way that we are injury profiling on a daily basis is the recreational runners in our neighborhood. I mean now I can’t unsee. And so I think, oh man, this lady, she’s about to blow out her Achilles and definitely she’s going to tear an ACL.
Kelly: [0:32:16] Can’t say that. What you can say is her running is so atrocious that she could go faster through a different technique. That’s all we can say.
Juliet: [0:32:24] So anyway, I love hearing what injury profiling actually is, because when I first read it, I thought, oh, okay, this is my armchair diagnosis of what’s going to happen to these poor people in five years’ time.
Kelly: [0:32:34] Well, you’re doing the pattern recognition of that doesn’t look like running, right, which is a really simple place to start. This is a conversation I just had with Travis Jewett on our staff. Some really good running coach put up a picture of a really good runner on a treadmill overstriding fifth metatarsal break again, and what they were saying was, “Help, because this has worked with this athlete, they’re very competent now. What do you guys think? Can you just put it out?” And without calling anyone out, what Travis and I said was, “I don’t have any context. I don’t know does this person sleep, what’s their training, do they have a back problem, what’s going on upstream.” You can’t see anything. Why that shoe? What happens when they run barefoot? Do they warm up? What’s their volume like? What’s their injury history like?
I think what’s great about the profile idea is where do we begin to control for some things and how do we begin to say here is the thing that we understand the most that can have the biggest impact on things we can control, right? Is that the way to think about it?
David Joyce: [0:33:33] A hundred percent. It’s a complex adaptive system. Why do we have climate change? It’s not just one thing. It’s an interaction of a number of different things. So you try and find your biggest levers to pull. You’re absolutely right.
And on the profiling bit, Jules, I think the important thing to look at too is I would love to be in private practice in physio at the moment because what we’re seeing with COVID is because we’re in lockdown here in Australia, is there are people that are over indexing on running because that’s all they can do, right? So you look at their training profile and they’ve gone from nothing to a million. You go, “Okay, well, I’ll be seeing you in my clinic pretty soon.” But you’re also seeing this second tier of people that are not even getting incidental exercise of walking to the bus or walking to the café at lunchtime or whatever. And they’re the ones that are going to be having their back pain because they’re sitting at their desk all day. I wonder if COVID is just set up by the physio association to drum up more business.
Kelly: [0:34:30] Stress test us.
Juliet: [0:34:29] Just to make sure they have like 20 years of all the work that they need to do. You’re right.
Kelly: [0:34:34] I think it’s really interesting that we are ultimately in all sport or any high-performance environment or your work, you make a hypothesis and you test your hypothesis. And sometimes the outcome is winning. The hypothesis is just did we make improvement this week on a skill or an expression. We tested our human population with COVID. We found that people didn’t know how to eat, they didn’t know how to self soothe, they didn’t know how to take care of themselves. And as you’re saying, some of the incidentals of just being a modern human were erased. I just didn’t have to leave and get sunshine anymore, so I stayed in my house, and now I feel depressed. Or I didn’t interact.
We just interviewed our friend Brett Bartholomew who was talking about social atrophy. Just the communication has withered because we’re not as adept. And I feel like, wow, we had a system that was under strain and not performing well, and now we’ve just fallen on our face again.
You wrote this first book, High Performance Training, in 2014 and it really is a gold standard and a reference for anyone who has gone beyond exercising as entertainment. And I think that’s where we have another podcast about how that’s confused the world. Exercising as entertainment. And it’s valid and fantastic, but it’s not the same thing as we’re talking about here. And we’ve confused those things.
But here you are, you’ve just put out a brand new edition on the 15th of September. And first of all, tell me before we get into that, how did you trick the world’s greatest coaches and thinkers to be part of this? I need that algorithm because this is a who’s who currently that we’re aware of who contributed to this body. It’s incredible.
David Joyce: [0:36:17] Beyond tricking a girl called Kay Robinson to marry me and to have my kids, it is my greatest feat of being a magician. So yeah, myself and my co-editor, Dan Lewindon, what we did was we found… We talked about in the 2016 edition we found a need. And because it actually did so well, we created momentum. And people actually really wanted to be involved with the second one. The first one, I basically tapped my mates. And then the second one, it was a little bit easier because people could see the value prop. I am just so humbled. It’s the most important thing for me to get across. And I can’t believe that we’ve been able to attract the people to contribute to this, yourself included. Like it is genuinely a career highlight that I’ve got Kelly Starrett writing in the book. Like it is genuinely a career highlight. So hopefully, I don’t know where we can go from here, but we had about 16 new chapters, 35 new contributors. And it’s a hell of a thing to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but geez, I’m really pleased to have it land on the shelves.
Kelly: [0:37:28] How do you think, besides a million and a half repetitions of everything, right, where the internet has made us… People don’t realize that there’s a really incredible network of coaches that do a lot of talking to each other offline, that we watch what each other do, we integrate, we synthesize, we iterate, and that’s really happening a lot. That’s the power of social media. How do you think besides just so much more, almost a decade more experience here, how has this book evolved in terms of practice or that of… Go ahead.
Juliet: [0:38:01] I have to cut him off because I want you to answer that question, but I first want you to tell our listeners what is this book and who are some of the other contributors.
Kelly: [0:38:10] Everyone knows, obviously.
Juliet: [0:38:11] Because Kelly’s already skipped ahead to how it’s evolved but I would love for you to tell our listeners what is this book about.
Kelly: [0:38:17] Thanks, J. Thanks for having my back.
Juliet: [0:38:18] And who else contributed to it?
Kelly: [0:38:20] Starrett Inc.
David Joyce: [0:38:24] That’s an alley-oop. Right. So High Performance Training for Sports, Second Edition. So it is a 27-chapter book looking at all the facets of athletic performance basically. We have got some of the greatest minds in performance that are contributing to it. So Kels contributed to it. I’m just looking through the chapter list here. We’ve got Nick Winkelman, and Nick has written one of the best sport textbook chapters I’ve ever read. It’s certainly the most different because he talks about coaching and queuing and he writes it in a narrative so it’s like a storybook. Rather than, “This is what good practice is, do this, do this, do this,” he tells a story about an athlete. I mean it’s just a wonderful post. Wonderful, wonderful post.
Kelly: [0:39:09] Will you explain to everyone what Nick’s day job is?
David Joyce: [0:39:12] Nick is the head of science sport medicine and performance for the Irish Rugby Union, formerly one of the big dogs at EXOS, written a number of books. Just a wizard, like a proper genius in this field. Proper genius. We had yours and my good friend Brett Bartholomew write. Stu McMillan with [inaudible 0:39:34] talk about speed. What we tried to do was to go, right, these are the 27 things we think are important about sport and athletic performance. Who’s the best in the world to write about it. And we just went after them and thankfully, we got most of them. So that’s what it is.
Kelly: [0:39:53] I want to highlight, listener, if you think this book is imminently accessible and full of so many things that would improve the sport of your children, even your recreational sport. This is, what you’re seeing is distillation of good practice across so many disciplines. It’s really worth grabbing. Do grab this book.
David Joyce: [0:40:15] Yeah, thanks, Kel. What we’ve tried to do was to be able to make it more broadly accessible than the first one. I thought the first one was fairly broadly accessible. But I really wanted to make sure that coaches could get hold of this, whether you’re the coach of an under 14 volleyball team or whether you are an NFL championship winning coach, that there was value in it, because I reckon coaches need to know this stuff. Not just the strength coaches, not just the physios. The coach needs to be able to have informed conversations so they can call out BS when they hear it, you know? It’s really important.
Kelly: [0:40:49] And not get sidetracked by the new hotness on the internet. We see all these trends and Juliet and I are just like, wow, it’s amazing.
Juliet: [0:40:57] So I cut off Kelly’s question, but I would love to know, especially since we’ve done two editions of Supple Leopard, we sort of know the pain that is putting out a big book twice. But how did it evolve? What’s different? It sounds like it’s very different, but tell us about the evolution of your thinking in the book and all those things.
David Joyce: [0:41:17] So thankfully there’s a thing called traumatic amnesia, which is basically you forget the pain of the first one.
Juliet: [0:41:22] That’s why we have more than one baby.
David Joyce: [0:41:24] That is exactly why. It’s why people double up to do a second marathon. So we’d forgotten about just how hard writing a book was. And I’m sure you can attest to that, Kel. And then we felt that it was time and that the publishers were pestering us, thankfully, to put it out again. But we said what we would do, the only reason we would do it, would be if we could basically write a new book, which sounds counterintuitive. But most second editions are kind of 30 percent different. Yours is quite different. But most other books are about 30 percent. This is 80 percent different, so it is a brand new book, because what we wanted to do was to give enough of a value proposition for people that had bought the first one to go, “Oh, I really should get the second one, because it’s a different book.”
What we tried to do was put a lot more emphasis on not just the x’s and o’s, but the things that can connect the trenches. So it wasn’t just enough for us to say, “All right, this is aerobic fitness in team sports, this is aerobic fitness in individual sports or winter sports or whatever it is.” We put a lot of what I call suspension chapters in there, like learning, like coaching and queuing, like influence, like how you can bring this ecosystem together so you’ve got a much more cohesive look at what performance is. We’ve got stuff on mental health and mental performance. We really wanted to ship the narrative away from an illness perspective into a performance perspective.
So that’s kind of been the drive with that. And I think edition three, and I’ve almost got traumatic amnesia already, but edition three would be looking even more at some of the mental health and mental performance as well.
Kelly: [0:43:05] As you get older, and I was just on a podcast today, and someone was like, “You have become a lot more mellow and reasonable and charitable.” And I was like, “Maybe I have. Maybe.”
Juliet: [0:43:19] Maybe we’re old.
Kelly: [0:43:20] I’m just too tired now-
Juliet: [0:43:21] We’re old.
Kelly: [0:43:22] To fight on the internet. But one of the things that is remarkable about your perspective change, even going back and getting an MBA and kind of pulling yourself out of the immediate iron of high performance, we’re seeing the real critical evolution for everyone, even the best coaches in the world have gone a quantum leap better in the last eight years. Like Nick Winkelman was an incredible coach, but in the last eight years, he’s become a super person. I think about Stuart McMillan and his process and awareness and transparency and his work with Dan, and it’s shocking to see what a better coach he was than when I first met him and had the high regard for him then.
So it’s really… I almost feel like you’re going to have to do this just because the coaches have evolved so much given the information and the iterative nature of what we do and the collaboration. Even just describing yourself, just so everyone listening, the role now is not necessarily head strength coach, it’s head of performance, which includes all of these things that make a durable, nice person who is successful. And you have to be versed, you have to be a real generalist in all these things. And I think we haven’t set people up in the tenants of that in feeding their kids, fueling their kids, managing their own exercise. This book is really important, is what I’m trying to say.
David Joyce: [0:44:45] Yeah, thanks Kel. I think my brain works best by looking at a broad thing. So I’m not a depth guy. I’m as deep as a puddle. So I’m much more, I really look to connect different parts of an ecosystem together so it gives me a better understanding of what an output is. And that’s always the way I’ve approached performance. There is merit and the world needs people that dig really deep trenches. But it needs people like yourself that can connect to the trenches, that can see things from different angles, and that have got a variety of different narratives in their head, and that are cognitively and intellectually flexible and humble in their way of approaching a problem.
Kelly: [0:45:35] We say curious. Juliet and I are always trying to be curious.
David Joyce: [0:45:38] Yeah, absolutely. I use the word discovery. Like I think that’s really important. And curiosity. I look at the things I want my kids to have is adventurous, brave, curious, calm, and kind. And so if I want them to be like that, I’ve got to model that as well. And I’m curious because I get bored. I just get bored looking at the actin myosin all day. I’m much more, I want to look at broader things. And Stu McMillan, Winkelman, Bartholomew, these people.
Kelly: [0:46:10] Nick Gill.
David Joyce: [0:46:10] Gilly. Exactly. Exactly. Really broad, wise people. And if I think about wisdom, they can see the world through different lenses. So if you look at Dalai Lama, what would be the words you use to describe him? Wise and calm and considerate and insightful and all that sort of stuff because he just sees the world from a number of different perspectives. And I think that’s what the modern super coach is. That’s what we look to because it just gives you so many different tools to solve problems.
Juliet: [0:46:44] So David, where can people find this book and buy it for their kids’ coach and for themselves and-
Kelly: [0:46:54] You can get a slab of them, is that the right word? Is that the Australian word? Like a slab of stubbies? You can get a slab of these books?
Juliet: [0:46:58] And where can they go buy a box-
Kelly: [0:47:00] That’s a case of beer, everyone, a slab of stubbies.
Juliet: [0:47:00] and a Christmas present for everyone they know? And also, where can people find you and learn more about you and all the cool stuff you’re doing?
David Joyce: [0:47:09] Yeah, I appreciate the question. I’d be staggered if people hadn’t heard of Amazon. So that would be… I think it’s available in all good bookstores and a few bad ones as well. So that’s that. And if people want to find me, @davidgjoyce on Twitter or [email protected] gmail.com if they wanted to email me. That’s probably the best way. And really happy to interact with people. But genuinely, genuinely, it’s a career highlight to get you into this book, Kel, and to appear on this show that I’m a devotee of as well. So thanks for having me.
Kelly: [0:47:48] You’re so welcome. And lastly, to just wrap up, you’ve just tied a bow on an MBA, you went back to grad school. You’ve just put out this book. What are you going to do to celebrate?
Juliet: [0:48:03] Yeah. What’s next? What are you looking forward to?
Kelly: [0:48:04] Because the fallacy is you won another championship, when are you going to start to train for the next one, right?
David Joyce: [0:48:10] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Kelly: [0:48:10] So how are you finding a pause? Are you motivated? What are you doing?
Juliet: [0:48:15] What are you talking about? He’s got to market this book, Kels. There’s no pause right now. Just kidding.
Kelly: [0:48:18] You’re right. You haven’t actually started working.
Juliet: [0:48:20] But what are you looking forward to? What’s next?
David Joyce: [0:48:23] The sad reality of the situation is I am desperate for a haircut. I’m really looking forward to be able to get out of-
Kelly: [0:48:30] Did not see that coming.
David Joyce: [0:48:32] So the thing that COVID and lockdown and restrictions gives you is a real sense of appreciation of things that you haven’t been able to do or that you’ve taken for granted for a long time. So seeing friends and family, getting to restaurants, and getting a haircut, they’re immediately on the agenda as are mountain biking, getting into the ocean. So they’re all just slightly outside our 5K zone. So they’re the things that I’m really looking forward to.
Juliet: [0:48:57] Well, come to Marin County and mountain bike with us anytime.
David Joyce: [0:49:00] Can I?
Kelly: [0:49:01] Oh yes. We had an amazing time in Australia and our girls adored it. And I cannot wait to get back there. And I think you guys drink VB, is that right? I’m just trying to wrap my head around the best beer in Australia. I think it’s Victoria Bitters?
David Joyce: [0:49:16] The uncultured among us drink that and I certainly, I am a fully paid-up member of that uncultured crew, so.
Kelly: [0:49:30] David, thank you so much, man.
Juliet: [0:49:30] David, thank you so much.
Kelly: [0:49:31] It’s such a pleasure. I can’t wait to see you guys in person.
David Joyce: [0:49:34] Fantastic. Thanks for having me, guys.Back to Episode