When athletes need to make adjustments, several crucial factors come into play. Coaches and athletes must assess these factors and make appropriate changes to their routines to ensure progress and success.
Competence: In sports, specific skills are required. Fundamental practice, spaced repetition, and teaching and learning of these skills are essential. Players must possess the ability to execute and control desired actions, such as throwing a specific pitch to a particular location. Physical ability and fundamental knowledge, such as the strength to shoot from a 3-point range, are also necessary. Achieving the desired action requires proper relaxation and focused mental and muscular engagement (relaxation exercises can aid in developing this skill). If an action has never been successfully executed before, both the player and coach should not expect immediate adjustment in a game. Questions to assess this factor: Have I previously executed this action? How frequently? What are the proper mechanics?
Awareness: Players must intellectually comprehend what they are doing, both in terms of correct and incorrect actions. They need to "see" themselves, whether through a mental checklist, biofeedback, or video analysis. Each player can analyze their actions and compare them to their desired objectives. Players who recognize potential issues early on will be able to make adjustments more promptly. Questions to assess this factor: What actions led me to this point? What steps do I need to take now? If I am unable to visualize myself, what can I do to enhance clarity through breathing, relaxation, or focused thinking?
Motivation: Players must understand the benefits of making the desired adjustment. They should set SMART goals and possess a strong desire to achieve them. Goal activities should be within their control and relevant to their role, aligning with the player's agreement. When players genuinely desire to make an adjustment, they will invest effort and exhibit passion. Conversely, if a player disagrees or lacks interest in the adjustment, they will invest little or no effort. Questions to assess this factor: Why am I making this adjustment? What will I gain from it? Am I genuinely passionate about implementing this adjustment?
Discipline: Players must adhere to the plan for achieving their goals, regardless of failures or successes along the way. They should understand the game plan, developmental plan, or learning session. If a player deviates from the desired plan but maintains discipline, they will regroup and return to it (setbacks are inevitable). Disciplined players possess the focus to stay true to themselves, remain on task, and adhere to their routines. Questions to assess this factor: What is my plan? Where do I currently stand within that plan? Have any signs indicated that I have strayed off-course?
Athlete skill adjustments are constantly discussed, attempted, and applied in sports. When determining which adjustment to make and which athlete to focus on, coaches and athletes should consider these four factors. By evaluating competence, awareness, motivation, and discipline, coaches and athletes can make informed decisions that foster growth and improvement.