What is Biopsychosocial?

04 Mar 2022

What is Biopsychosocial?
There is currently lots of discussion about the concept of Biopsychosocial in the sporting world at the moment - but what is it?
As an underpinning feature of the ‘It Depends’ approach to coaching is the idea that human development is a Biopsychosocial affair. Although sounding a little scary, the concept is relatively simple, yet also very complex!
It means that human development will be impacted by a range of interacting biological, psychological and social factors. The essence of biopsychosocial, rather than bio-psycho-social, is that these factors are interrelated and in the real world inseparable.
As an example, if you were coaching an athlete a new skill it is against this complex backdrop that learning happens. Biologically, the athlete’s brain chemistry will affect their attention and memory, their sleep the previous and following night will affect consolidation. Psychologically, their beliefs, motivations, skill set and emotional status will impact their engagement with the activity/coach. Socially, their milieu will influence the perceived value of the activity, the credibility/status and relationship with the coach, and norms of the sport will influence their perception of the activity.
Importantly, these factors interact and this is a challenge for research that often needs to split factors up for the purpose of investigation and why mono-disciplinary solutions should always be questioned.
This is in contrast to the view that we “should not think about what's inside your head, but what your head's inside of” - instead, we need to think about what’s inside your head and what your head’s inside of.
It is for this reason that coaching really does depend and why there is increasing support for an evidence informed/PJDM approach.
For more on this type of approach, please see these open access resources:


Author: Jamie Taylor, Senior Coach Developer at Grey Matters

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