How to Give Effective Athlete Evaluations

A coach’s responsibility extends beyond just training athletes; it involves understanding their strengths and weaknesses, promoting motivation, and providing constructive feedback. Feedback is a critical component of coaching as it allows coaches to communicate how athletes are performing in relation to their expectations. This communication tool is used to reflect the performance back to the player, regardless of whether it was good or bad. Coaches use feedback to instruct and teach their athletes how to reach these expectations and perform better. Positive feedback, in particular, is used to change specific behaviors, with the coach remembering the keywords “Praise” and “Encourage.” Praising is what a coach should do when a player performs correctly. Moreover, the impact of good feedback on athletes is significant. Studies have shown that positive feedback not only makes athletes feel good but also leads to improvements in performance. For instance, feedback during resistance training has been observed to result in statistically significant small to moderate improvements in short sprint performance. Coaches are encouraged to focus on the future, starting conversations about the player’s future performance and solutions for improvement rather than dwelling on past mistakes. This approach fosters an environment of learning and positivity, which is crucial for the athlete’s willingness to correct mistakes and improve.

Top Ten Tips on Giving Effective Evaluations

1. Evaluate Technical, Tactical, and Physical Skills: Athletes should be assessed based on their technical, tactical, and physical skills. These skills include technique, coordination, power, and strength, which vary depending on the sport.

2. Health Risk Appraisal: Before starting any evaluation, it’s crucial to review the athlete’s health history and determine if there’s a need for referral. This includes checking heart rate, blood pressure, and other biometric measures.

3. Anthropometrical Measures: If necessary and appropriate, circumference measurements and body fat measures can provide valuable insights into an athlete’s physical condition and potential areas of improvement.

4. Identify Risks and Poor Performance: Evaluations should aim to identify any risk of injury and the root cause of poor performance. This helps in tailoring training programs to address these issues and enhance performance.

5. Use a Consistent Scale: Whether you’re evaluating the athlete’s ability out of 5, 10, or 100, choose a number that has a middle point that they can relate to. This provides a clear benchmark for athletes to understand their performance level.

6. Provide Clear Communication: Be transparent about how scores are determined. Are athletes being graded against their peers, their age group, or professional athletes? Clear communication helps athletes understand their evaluation better.

7. Offer Constructive Criticism: When providing feedback, use the “sandwich” approach. Discuss what areas are going well, then what they need to improve on, and close the commentary with another positive area.

8. Focus on Character Traits: An impactful athlete evaluation also includes feedback on character traits such as leadership, sportsmanship, and determination. This is especially valuable for less technically talented athletes.

9. Regular and Consistent Feedback: Make feedback a regular part of your coaching routine. Athletes want and need consistent feedback to understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

10. Accountability: After handing off the evaluation, be prepared to answer any questions or follow up. This shows your commitment to the athlete’s development and growth.

In conclusion, professional evaluations are a powerful tool in the quest for that elusive 1% improvement. They offer a structured, systematic approach to athlete development, fostering personal growth, enhancing performance, and ultimately, turning good athletes into great ones.

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Sneha Samfrancisco

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