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Mental Training Tips: Analyzing Performance

Editor’s Note: This is part one in a three part series on how to effectively end a season and how to outline off-season training. Part one explains how to analyze a performance. Part two will elaborate on burnout and if an athlete should quit. Part three will explain effective goal setting for performance.

One of the most common mistakes made in creating a culture for effective performances is to not do a review or analysis of the performance or series of performances.  Essentially, an athlete or team should do a debriefing of sorts.  This analysis can be used to help facilitate off-season training and conditioning.  Often times, athletes and coaches feel since there are no more games or practices until next season, they don’t feel there is any reason to continue to put forth effort if no results may be seen for quite some time.

Therefore, it is important to spend some time at the end of the season just to evaluate and measure what you did.  The first thing one should look at is, which of your goals did you accomplish this year?  (This may be in itself an issue for effective performance, as many athletes may not set goals; or more accurately, they do not set effective goals that will aid in performance enhancement.  This will be addressed in Part 3).  If you did have goals set, and you accomplished them, how did you do it?  If you were unable to accomplish them, what are some explanations for that? It is vital to do your review/analysis as objectively as possible.  This may prove difficult for some athletes, as there is a tendency for athletes unwilling to assess what their weaknesses may be (this a result of the athletes achievement goal orientation) as it could result in loss of motivation or even self-confidence.  Nonetheless, it should still be done if the athlete wants to grow and get better, both, physically and mentally.

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(Note: these evaluations can be used as a daily routine for practices and games.  Many athletes I work with keep a performance journal just for this reason.)

Once you have the answers to the aforementioned questions, it should be easier for the athlete, coach, and parents to see where there may be some deficiencies.  Be it physical conditioning, like running out of gas near the end of games; or technical, like needing better ball or stick skills; and possibly even mentally, like having the ability to overcome adversity.  Now with this information of being aware of where improvement is needed, it gives a framework or structure for an off-season training regimen.  (In part 3, I will further discuss on how to use the information gathered from the performance evaluation to outline and implement an effective goal-setting strategy.)

One last thing to point out when doing these evaluations, more often than not; these evaluations may lead an athlete to feel bad about their performances due to loses or ineffective performances for the year.  Feeling badly is perfectly OK, but it is essential to understand that any shortfall should not define an athlete as a failure.  Feeling dejected because you lost is one thing, labeling it a failure is destructive.  Understand, just because the performance outcome one hopes for did not come into fruition, an athlete should not diminish their value as a person because of it.

Jared Ocana, M.S., is a Mental Skills Coach and Adjunct Faculty at Westminster College in the Human Performance and Wellness Department. Besides working with student-athletes at the school in 17 intercollegiate sports, Ocana also provides coaching and training to individual athletes along the Wasatch Front.  To connect with Jared, or have questions or comments, you can reach him at: jocana@westminstercollege.edu or (801) 448-6818

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