Don’t be Afraid to Evaluate

To reach the next level at anything, we must evaluate ourselves. Please do not be afraid of engaging in this process. Evaluation is not to criticize and berate self, but to objectively examine skills and abilities. Whether in sport, job, hobby, or even your friendships and love life, looking at ‘performance’ is a first step at growth and continuing to improve. While the assessment process varies depending on sport or career field, there are some common areas to evaluate and common factors to consider when appraising how you show up.

General evaluation steps

Gather Data – Collect the relevant data based on your sport or even position within a sport. Data collection can take place during and after practice and/or competition. It can be collected from self-evaluation and coach evaluation. For athletes, look at the following four areas to evaluate:

  • Physical – This includes evaluating things such as sleep, hydration, nutrition, strength, endurance, agility, explosiveness, height, weight, heart rate, flexibility, etc. which impact performance. Various fitness tests and drills measure these qualities. Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, and Chiropractors all possess key knowledge and instruments to gage these qualities. Sports Nutritionists also provide relevant data to compare an athlete’s fuel consumption to the demands of their sport.
  • Technical – These are the specific fundamental skills related to sport and position within a sport. It includes the mechanical items such as body positioning, and precise skills needed to perform such as shooting, passing, dribbling, tackling, tumbling, or serving. It includes stoke technique in swimming or hip and chest positioning in gymnastics. Evaluating technical form and abilities are important in the early ‘developmental stage’ of an athlete’s career so foundational mechanics are correct before moving on to higher and more complex difficulties.
  • Tactical – These areas aim to evaluate an athlete’s IQ regarding sport and position within their sport. It includes comprehension of game tactics and strategies, decision-making skills and knowing what to do in different situations. This involves assessing an athlete’s ability to measure risk and make solid decisions. Other tactical skills to evaluate may include methods the athlete has in place from practice to competition and creating consistency between the two. Ever heard of ‘practice the way you want to compete’?
  • Mental and Emotional – This includes things such as confidence, resilience, teamwork, respecting authority, focus, leadership, and other mental/emotional skills required towards excellence. Overall, it measures an athlete’s mental toughness and their ability to handle pressure and fears. While coaches and recruiters evaluate how an athlete makes self better, they also gauge an athlete’s ability to make teammates better. They need to know if they have an athlete who is contributing or contaminating team culture. Communication skills also get evaluated, a big part of contaminating or contributing. Communicating while handling both strong negative emotions or strong positive feelings reveals either a healthy or unhealthy mental and emotional maturity.

How to evaluate

  • Video Analysis – Today’s athletes and coaches have it easy compared to those of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Using video footage to evaluate and examine performance helps identify areas for improvement and highlight strengths and weaknesses. This is extremely helpful for a visual learner who needs to ‘see it’ to master it. All sports can utilize this method of analysis, not just those of us in football who get up early the day following game. Film study instantly humbles us in front of our teammates as the video does not lie when mistakes are made, especially those that are costly in nature. And we can celebrate when the evaluation shows brilliant plays and performances. Tactical and technical changes are most notable in this visual medium.
  • Expert Input – Seeking out feedback and evaluation from key specialists provides information not readily known or available from coaches or parents. Such experts include sports nutritionist, sports psychologist or mental skills specialist, position specific skill coaches, athletic trainers or sports performance trainers, chiropractors, and physical therapists. All these people provide significant insight and valuable perspectives and guidance.

Highlight: NeuroSport Mental Assessment

NeuroSport™ works with athletes, coaches, recruiters, and parents. We employ empirical science based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™ (MBTI™), neuroscience, and a personal intake to evaluate and pinpoint the precise innate physical and mental wiring of an athlete and identify any possible therapeutic issues.

We use an easy 3-step process to evaluate an athlete:

  • Intake interview
  • Intake written form
  • Online assessment

Then, we customize mental training based on findings to assist athletes in achieving consistent high performance.

Common NEUROSPORT™ benefits include:

  • Find out the sports naturally wired to do
  • Know innate physical and mental strengths and weaknesses given sport/position
  • Gain understanding how to stay motivated
  • Improve focus to stay on task and avoid distractions
  • Handle performance pressure or stress and stay reliable
  • Improve communication with parents, teammates, and coaches
  • Improve goal setting, productivity, and follow through

As athletes move from the fun romantic stage to the committed mature stage in their development, it is during the middle developmental stage when a NeuroSport™ assessment and mental training keeps the fun and improves consistent performance. This gives vital information and support to gain the GRIT they need to continually improve, grow, and contribute to their team and sport.

  • Comparative Analysis – While not recommended for coaches or parents to verbally compare one athlete to another, athletes can use this type of analysis as ‘fuel’ for improvement. This comparison ignites motivation to work hard and ‘beat’ that person. This analysis also remains useful when learning proper techniques. Comparing oneself with peers, other competitors, or comparing self with previous self-performance leads to finding goal areas of improvement.
  • Tracking Progress – ‘Evaluation’ is just one of four steps in an athlete’s continuous process of mastering their sport. Given this, you need a method to keep track of improvements. I give all my athletes a ‘Success Log’ to fill out 2-3x/week after practice and definitely after competition. It is a simple one-page tracker of success and struggles. It takes five minutes to fill out. Tracking progress over time is crucial to focus on target objectives of improvement and making sure advancement is occurring.

Process of evaluation never ends

Remember, evaluating performance is ongoing and does not stop. Improvements take time. Mastery of skills and sport occurs through consistently showing up, doing the work, and examining the effort done. Regular assessment and adjustments to training methods assist in reaching full potential. It is a collaboration often between the athlete, coach, parents, and other sport experts all working together to bring the best out of the athlete. This collaboration also ensures the athlete stays motivated and engaged in the improvement process. Again, do not be afraid to evaluate. Just do it!

Kip Rodgers, LPC-S

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