By Doug Gardner, Ed.D., ThinkSport Consulting Services
The end of the school year is a great time to take a look back and think about the many things that happened to you during the 2005-2006 academic and athletic year.
Think back to September of 2005...How much have you grown up since then?
Transport yourself to one year from now...Where do you see yourself? Where do you want to be? What do you want to have accomplished one year from now?
You could be starting your freshman year at college, learning to balance the increased academic and athletic demands placed upon you.
Maybe you will be a senior and will have to deal with the SAT, decisions about college, schoolwork, sports, and your life with friends and family.
Maybe you are entering your sophomore or junior year and are ready to commit yourself to getting better and making a varsity team.
The summer is the perfect time to take a step back and reflect upon where you have been and utilize this information to better the path you will take in reaching your short-term and long-term goals.
No matter how good you are in a sport, you can always get better and improve. Few athletes actually take the time to assess, critique, and formulate improvement strategies in an objective, honest, and constructive manner.
Most athletes spend their assessment time being too harsh on themselves when mistakes are made, performance is poor, and when games are lost. How many times have you dwelled on mistakes, lost opportunities, and poor preparation leading up to a competition?
When things go well, athletes often do not think too much as to why they are having the success they are having. People believe that thinking too much about their successes will lead to negative outcomes in the future.
This either/or syndrome often interferes with our ability to assess our preparation and performance objectively and rationally. If I do well? Great! Keep it going and don't ask questions. If I do poorly? Well, open the flood gates and berate yourself.
To be objective, an athlete must create a standardized and systematic way to assess themselves. I suggest that athletes categorize their preparation and performance into three distinct areas:
Physical - Cardiovascular fitness, strength/core training, diet and nutrition, injury prevention.
Fundamental - Aspects related to the development of the many physical skills specifically related to the sport(s) you participate in.
Mental - Focus, intensity, purpose, trust, strategy formulation, adversity and coping skills, decision-making capabilities.
Let us try a short exercise...
When answering the following questions, be as specific and detailed as possible in relation to the physical, fundamental, and mental aspects of your preparation and performance.
1. What aspects of your performance were you pleased with last season?
2. What aspects of your performance were you NOT pleased with last season?
3. What is your assessment of your daily preparation during the past season?
4. How can your preparation improve?
5. How have you matured as a person and as an athlete since last season?
6. What are you doing right now to address your physical, fundamental, and mental limitations?
Remember, this is not a test. Nobody else will see your answers and only you will know if you are truly being honest and objective with yourself. Please e-mail me with your critique of yourself and your performance if you would like some feedback.
Dr. Doug Gardner is the founder of ThinkSport Consulting Services, an Applied Sport Psychology Consulting Firm in Lafayette, California. ThinkSport provides educational workshops and individual mental training services for athletes, coaches, teams and professional sport organizations. Dr. Gardner is a recognized Certified Consultant through the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP) and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee's Sport Psychology Registry.
For more information about the services provided by ThinkSport Consulting Services please visit us at www.thinksport.com.
Dr. Doug Gardner: (925) 284-7506 or firstname.lastname@example.org.