When athletes make adjustments, four factors come into play. Coaches, along with the athletes should assess these factors and make the appropriate changes to their routines.
- Specific skills are needed in sports. Fundamental practice, spaced repetition, and teaching and learning of these specific skills are needed to take place. Players must be able to complete and control the desired action, i.e. throw a certain pitch in a certain location. Physical ability is needed as well as fundamental knowledge – i.e. the player has to be strong enough to shoot from 3-point range. Proper relaxation and focus of the mind and muscles are needed for the action to occur (relaxation exercises will help with this skill). If an action has never been actualized previously, the player and coach should not expect the adjustment to be made in a game.
- Questions to assess this factor: Have I done this before? How often? How is it done?
- Players must intellectually understand what he/she is doing (both correct and incorrect). Players have to “see” himself – either through a mental checklist or biofeedback or video. Each player can piece together exactly what he/she did and then compare it to exactly what he wanted to do. Players who recognize ‘red flags’ sooner will be able to make quicker adjustments.
- Questions to assess this factor: What did I do to get myself here? What do I need to do now? If I cannot “see” myself, what can I do to breathe, relax, and think so I can “see” more clearly?
- Players must understand the benefit to making the adjustment. He/she should have SMART goals and the desire to achieve those goals. Goal activities must be controllable and pertinent to the player’s role, which is agreeable to the player. The player wants to make the adjustment and puts forth effort. If the player does not agree or does not care about the adjustment, little or no effort is given. if the athlete understands what is in it for him to make the adjustment and agrees with it, he will follow through passionately.
- Questions to assess this factor: Why am I doing this? What will happen if I make this adjustment? Am I passionate about making this adjustment?
- Players must stick to the plan (goal-achieving process) despite failures and successes. Players must understand the game plan, developmental plan, or learning session. If a player strays from the desired plan but is disciplined, he will turn it around and get back to it (setbacks happen). Players with discipline have the focus to stay within themselves, stay on task, and follow their routine.
- Questions to assess this factor: What is my plan? Where am I within that plan? Has something “showed” me that I have strayed off-course?
Adjustments to athlete’s skills are discussed, attempted, and applied all of the time in sports. Coaches and athletes should assess these four factors when determining which athlete and which adjustment should be made.