Context is a principle that I have evolved over my years of coaching. Too often a “new” training method or exercise will emerge and everyone will jump on the bandwagon and quickly incorporate the exercise or change to the new training method. The attitude is that if so and so who is the world record holder does it must be good, therefore I will copy it. I call this the monkey see monkey do syndrome. The use of chains in weight training, physioballs in core stability are two examples that come to mind. They are viable tools if they fit. Before we quickly incorporate something we need to see where in fits into the context of what already is being done and we to need to carefully evaluate the context in which it was successful. Certainly keep an open mind and incorporate sensible innovations where appropriate.
Context is a key element of a system. Context establishes the nature of the relationship of the various components of training within the system. What we do today in training should fit with what we did yesterday and must flow into what we are going to do tomorrow. The same is true for the components of training. Perhaps the biggest violation of the principle of context is to take one component for example speed or strength and train those to the exclusion of all other physical qualities. This is fundamentally unsound. It is possible to design a program where a component is emphasized for a phase, but it should be kept in proportion to the other components and put into the context of the whole training plan. If the principle of context is not observed then the components of training will get out of proportion and adaptation will not occur at the predicted level. The best way to keep everything in context is to thoroughly plan and stick to the plan.