Getting Better

Stopwatch, vertec, measuring tape, scales. The past two weeks there’s been a lot of assessing going on as we start up the second half of summer training with many of our athletes. Assessments are essential and play an important role in training design and evaluation. They help us know where we’re starting and how far we’ve come. If the players I work with aren’t getting faster, or stronger or fitter or making progress toward their goals then we need to  take a second look.

But, while they’re valuable it’s also important that we look at them in context. A faster 40 or a bigger vertical jump might look good but , what matters in the end is being able to create or close space with an opponent or play the ball in the air or make the block or get the rebound.  That’s why today we conducted an ” informal assessment” during a training session with one of the high school players. I asked him what he was noticing as a result of his hard work and training over the last 4 or 5 weeks. ” Well, he said, I’m faster on the field and I’m not getting pushed off the ball when it’s on my foot.”  BINGO

Now, don’t misunderstand, we’ll continue to measure and chart and re-assess as we go right up to the time he heads off to practice. And, we’ll get some important information from that, that we can consider in future planning. In the end though the practice field and the playing field will be the real test. Will he perform better or differently as a result of his hard work?

Kathy Sierra wrote a great post for Hugh McCleod’s Gapingvoid blog. In it she said,    ” Just make people better at something they want to be better at. There’s a huge difference between helping someone *appear* more awesome and helping them actually BE more awesome.”  It’s easy to get caught up in the science of testing and lose the performance of the player. It’s also easy be enamored of  the sparkle and shine of a fast time or a big jump. In the end though it comes back to that one simple thing – did I help someone actually get better at something they wanted to be better at.

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