OODA Loop in Health and Human Performance

Karson Brown
3 min readJul 28, 2022

What is the OODA loop?

The OODA loop is a cycle created by John Boyd to be applied during combat for the military. It occurs in a recurring loop of observe, orient, decide, and act. According to Boyd, this concept explains how to “direct one’s energies to defeat an adversity and survive” (wikipedia). Boyd emphasizes that the loop is a set of interacting loops that are continuously used during combat.

The Four steps of the OODA loop:

  1. Observe:

The first step in the OODA loop is observation. This is where data is ingested and collected. In this phase, decision-makers are ingesting all the possible information, but not thinking about how to use it and what to do with it.

2. Orient:

The second step in the OODA loop is orientation. It represents our genetic heritage, cultural tradition, and previous experiences. According to Boyd, this is the most essential step as it shapes how we observe, decide, and act.

3. Decide:

The third step in the OODA loop is decision-making. This step is about choosing what to do after observing the data presented. There will be many options, but each option is shaped by previous information absorbed in the observation and orientation phase.

4. Act:

The final step in the OODA loop is action. This step is about putting your decision into action. During this phase, you are executing the previous decision and determining if it was the correct one. Although this is the “final” step, the name indicates that it is a loop, meaning that action will never be the last step in the loop.


What is Health and Human Performance?

Health and Human performance is the study of the physical elements of living, along with the physiological, structural, and mechanical aspects of living. When obtaining a health and human performance degree, you will learn fundamental concepts such as nutrition, motor skills, human behavior, and anatomy. The primary purpose of a health and human performance degree is to examine how those concepts affect health, exercise capability, and optimal sports performance. This degree prepares students to apply their knowledge safely and effectively to various populations.

How to apply the OODA loop to Health and Human Performance?

Nutrition, motor skills, human behavior, and anatomy are different for everyone. They are determined by a multitude of factors, including genetics, heritage and culture, environment, and more. The OODA loop was initially designed to be used during military combat but has since been used for many other decision-making tactics, including those used in HHP. The OODA loop can be utilized in almost every sport. An example would be hitting a ball in softball. Initially, the athlete will take in all the factors needed. They will observe where players in the field are standing, how far the fence is, where players are located on the bases, the speed of the pitcher, and whether they pitch a ball worth swinging at. Next, they will orient those factors and determine how to implement their decision. Finally, the athlete will have to make that action. If the ball is too high or too low, their action will be not to swing. If the ball is right down the middle of the plate, their action will be to swing.


The OODA loop was initially designed to be used during military combat to make quick and effective decisions. It involves a four-step loop composed of observation, orientation, decision-making, and action. Overall, the OODA loop is a beneficial concept if used correctly and can help aid in every action, including those needed for a career in Health and Human Performance.