Neuromyths in Coaching: Unveiling the Brain Science

A diagram illustrating common neuromyths in sports coaching.

In the rapidly evolving world of sports, trainers and coaches continuously leverage innovative techniques to enhance athlete performance. Dr. Richard Bailey, in collaboration with his peers, embarked on a journey to investigate these techniques. Astonishingly, many sports professionals subscribe to ‘Neuromyths’. As we delve deeper into the marvels of brain research, especially as of 2018, it becomes essential to discern fact from fiction.

Read more: Neuromyths in Coaching: Unveiling the Brain Science

Modern-Day Brain Research

Advancements in technology have granted researchers unprecedented insights into the human brain. Notably, the fMRI, which stands for functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, serves as a pivotal instrument. It meticulously renders a three-dimensional visualization of brain activity. Between 2011 and 2017, studies using fMRI skyrocketed from around 750 to an overwhelming 32,500. These revelations significantly shape our understanding of the mind.

Insights and Athlete Development

These pioneering studies offer sports professionals varied insights about the intricacies of the human brain. Many of these insights lay the foundation for contemporary athletic training techniques. Yet, caution is warranted, as not all methods have a robust scientific backing. Bailey’s research intriguingly labels these as ‘Neuromyths’ and ‘Pseudoscience’. Through meticulous scrutiny, Bailey and his team sought to uncover the prevalence of these Neuromyths in coaching.

Neuromythes Table

Survey Findings

The research encompassed the views of 545 sports coaches spanning the UK and Ireland. Their survey categorized coaching techniques into:

  1. Scientifically Supported:
    • Providing instructions and demonstrations
    • Goal setting
    • Promoting a “Growth Mindset”
    • Directed learning
  2. Blurring Science and Pseudoscience:
    • Learning styles
    • MBTI (Personality types)
  3. Neuromyths:
    • ATA (Action Type Approach)
    • Brain Gym
    • NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming)

A staggering 41.6% of surveyed coaches confessed to occasionally employing Neuromyths. Surprisingly, a notable percentage of coaches harbored misconceptions like the belief that boys have larger brains than girls and the myth surrounding preferred learning styles (Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic).

Neuromythes table 2

Reflecting on Neuromyths

This study undeniably accentuates the rampant usage of Neuromyths in sports coaching. Potential implications might influence the structuring of coach training programs. Techniques like Brain Gym aim at cognitive enhancement, but tools like Neurotracker and Cogmed stand on firmer scientific grounds. The world of Neuromyths, including the Action Type Method and NLP, brims with anecdotes of success. Yet, the pendulum of research evidence swings inconsistently, particularly for NLP and its integration of learning styles. Undeniably, neuroscience-centered coaching garners momentum, evoking enthusiasm among those fascinated by the athletic brain.


Delving into this study, we unearth the intertwined dynamics of Neuromyths, Pseudoscience, and genuine brain science in sports coaching. As we anticipate further revelations from this research, it remains paramount for coaches to sift myths from reality.

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