How To Max Out an Athlete’s Potential

posted by Coach Dawn Writes
Monday, April 16, 2012 at 6:40pm EDT

My blog is a place for coaches at all levels who are interested in building teams, motivating their student athletes, and coaching ideas that work. You won't find drills or job postings there, but you will find thoughts from a self-proclaimed coaching nerd who wants to help coaches and teams thrive.

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One of the things I loved about my collegiate athletics experience is that I don’t think I could’ve gotten any better.  I squeezed all the juice out of the lemon.  There was no meat left on the bone.  I licked the plate clean.  I left it all on the floor.  What other cliché phrases can I come up with to state that I maxed out my potential?

I want that same feeling for my current athletes.  I don’t want them thinking, in the year after they graduate, that they should’ve worked harder when they had the chance.

What if there was some sort of rating system for effort?  For focus?  For investment in individual and corporate betterment?  According to the article, The 3 Levels of Effective Practice, there is!  As the saying goes, you get out what you put in…let’s show our athletes how to monitor what they’re putting in.

3 different athletic mindsets

Bronze:  They come to practice, do what the coach tells them to do…nothing more, nothing less.  By virtue of coming to practice, this player will get a little bit better, but there won’t be any a-ha moments.  To me, this athlete isn’t very invested.  Just coming to practice and doing what they’re told is the very base level of being on a team.  I’m not impressed.

Silver:  These are your hard workers.  These are the athletes that look their coach in the eye when receiving correction and immediately apply the change.  They want to get better and are willing to put in the time to get there.  When their coach suggests they come in ten minutes early and stay ten minutes late, the athlete jumps at the opportunity.  This player is going to get a lot better because getting better is important to them.

Gold:  These guys are Silver Plus!  They do all of the stuff that the silver folks do, but they add reflection and analyzation to the mix. This player may set up a meeting with their coach to find out what they should be working on and then they sit down and come up with a plan of what they should do outside of practice to accomplish their goals.  It doesn’t always have to be skill work.  It can be watching video and keeping notes of what they need to improve on.  It can be writing down a list of goals that need to be accomplished at practice that day.  It can even be giving themselves a pre & post survey on effort & focus in practice.  This is what will take them from getting better to getting better by leaps and bounds.

The idea of reaching the Gold level is to plan for success.  We all know that success doesn’t just happen.  What if we asked our players to write down the feedback they receive at the end of each practice and to review those notes weekly?  What if they had to rate what level (bronze, silver, gold) they thought they practiced at each day?  I think they would get better and they would max out their potential.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that I’ve been doing this in my gym…but I’m going to start.  It’s a great reflection piece to get our athletes more invested in their own development.  Furthermore, it eliminates the confusion about what “hard work” means…no more excuses!

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