Assessment of elite athlete

Phase 4 of the framework suggests a needs assessment of the elite athlete take place, the following paragraphs explore the methods of testing which were selected. A range of assessment methods were used in order to effectively explore potential weaknesses of the athlete. Performance Profiling was introduced as it provides a holistic view of performance which is not achieved in some of the other methods. To administer this test the athlete is required to identify attributes which they believe are most significant to their sport.

The athlete is then required to rate themselves out of ten and identify an ideal score they could realistically attain when attempting to improve performance. Butler (1996) uses a triadic model to identify significant features of a successful performance, the model suggests performance is based around three factors, physical preparation, technical skill and psychological readiness. The model highlights the importance of preparation in all areas and suggests performance is inferior when all needs are not satisfied (Butler, 1996).

Performance Profiling is able to capture a mixture of physiological, mental, technical and team skills in a single assessment, something other assessments do not offer. Weston (2011) further promotes performance profiling, proposing that it works well because it can enhance an athlete’s awareness of the necessary factors which create a successful performance. Results from the performance profile (appendix A) suggested that the client had particularly strong team based attributes but doubts their physical abilities and mental skills.

Interviews were selected for their ability to collect detailed qualitative data about a person’s thoughts and experiences (Rabionet, 2011). Boyce and Neale (2006) suggest interviews are particularly effective when discussing issues of considerable importance, this is because Interviewers can advantage of social cues such as tone and body language. Results (appendix B) from the interview propose that the client is struggling to regain full fitness prior injury and this is causing them to doubt their physical and psychological abilities.

The test of performance strategies (TOPS) was the final method of assessment used on the athlete (Thomas et al. 1999). Before the questionnaire took place the client received a brief introduction and instructions on what the task would require. When collected, scores were compared with a sample from another study (Thomas et al, 1999). The TOPS questionnaire can be seen as advantageous as it allowed for further indication to the psychological factors which would be most useful targeting, as well as providing reference values which can act as a comparative tool (Lane et al. 2004).

Results (appendix C) indicated that the performer is struggling to relax and regularly facilitates negative thoughts. The development of a mental skills training package Continuing with the framework, phase 5 suggests a consultation with the client take place. During the consultation the practitioner is given an opportunity to discuss how they interpreted the needs assessment. Negative thinking was perhaps the most apparent theme in the needs assessment, it scored highest on the TOPS and the client demonstrated low levels of confidence in their skills/ abilities during the performance profile.

The short interview also revealed the client has developed severe worry during and post injury. Goldberg (1997) suggests performance “slumps” generally follow a predictable cycle, athletes perform badly and develop feelings of self-doubt and worry, further affecting future performance. Hatzigeorgiadis and Biddle (2008) found that negativism expressed through self-talk was also linked with more intense levels of anxiety. Some perspectives in sport psychology associate anxiety with reduced task performance (LeUnes and Nation, 1996).

Other views, such as those expressed in Drive Theory, suggest anxiety could be essential to sports performance (Kleine, 1990). Hannin (1978) developed the ZOF model which predicted athletes could benefit from anxiety, providing it did not surpass an optimal range. As the client projects emotions which are linked with high levels of anxiety, they could be facilitating a level, which is no longer beneficial to their performance (Hannin, 1978).

Aiming to reduce anxiety could be beneficial to the client’s performance, although to further quantify anxiety is disrupting their performance, other needs assessments such as the STAI would be useful (Turner and Raglin, 1996). A lack of emotional control is another coherent theme visible in the information collected during the needs assessment. When looking at the TOPS it was considered poor, when compared with a sample of results from another study (Thomas et al, 1999).

Strong statements projected in the interview also suggested the client’s ability to control their emotions was poor, during the interview the athlete expressed severe worry regarding their place in the team and their place in the sport all together. Identifying areas of weakness allows the skill selection to be a more individualistic process to the client. After a discussion with the client, a decision was made to target negative thinking, anxiety and emotional control.

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