To know where you are in your respective sport, it is best to seek professional advice and have screenings and assessments completed for each area of your performance. No stone should be left unturned.
The more you know about you, the more you can improve!
Your coach can determine technically and tactically specific areas you need to improve, an exercise physiologist will assess your physiological strengths and weaknesses, a physiotherapist can conduct a musculoskeletal screening to determine any specific weaknesses or imbalances in your body, a sports psychologist will determine your mental strengths and areas for improvement, a dietician will assess any nutritional areas of concern and even Mum and Dad can help too as they know you best of all!
Let me explain these different areas in a little more detail so you understand them and the importance of knowing all you can about you, what you do well and what can be improved. This article will just focus on a Technical Evaluation and subsequent articles will address each of the other areas.
What do you need to work on in your game to make technical improvements?
The more detail you can go into here, the better. Let’s use tennis as an example here. It is not just about forehands, backhands, serves and serve returns. It is about each variation of the shot as well. For example, your backhand, your slice bachkand, your topspin backhand, your backhand approach, and so forth.
This also includes your grip, positioning to the ball, your preparation, your contact point and your follow through. You are probably thinking this sounds a lot. Well it is a lot but I can assure you the hard work, detailed analysis and preparation will be worth all the effort. We are preparing to be the best we can be, and that means no stone can be left unturned.
Your coach will be the best person to help you with this analysis and if he or she can also do a video analysis for you too, then that would be ideal as it is a great way for you to see exactly what you must do, and the improvements you need to make. If you already have excellent technical skills, then you coach can even compare you to other professionals, analyse movements and trajectories, calculate speeds and demonstrate key positions. It is also a great tool to reinforce all your improvements and see how far you have come.
I would suggest the coach simply make lots of simple bullet point comments of areas for improvement in each of the elements of your sport. The more the better as it is the little details that make the BIG difference. I have seen coaches sometimes come up with huge numbers of areas to work on and the athlete becomes quite disillusioned
I don’t see things that way. I say great. Look at how great you already are and what you have achieved so far and we still have this much room for improvement. Fantastic. It is the opposition that should be worried. We have so much to work on to continue to get better and better each and every day. You can just focus on one at a time and by keeping them simple, it is easy to correct.
Where do I start if I have so many points?
A great coach will tell you where to begin and that is one of the arts of coaching, knowing what point to pick first. An experienced coach will pick the most critical element for you and by working on that and correcting that, you will often see it has also corrected many of the other points on your checklist! Just like magic! That is the art of coaching. As much as coaching is also a science too, it is the combination of both the artist and scientist working together within that will bring out your best.
And remember you are a unique individual. The way you play your sport is different to every one else and you also have your own strengths and weaknesses, stages of development and growth, that will be different from those around you, so focus just on you! The key is to make sure your technique is biomechanically effective to optimize your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
If you do not have access to a coach right now, I would suggest you go with your intuition. What is going to make the biggest difference to your game? What is the most important thing you need to do right now? Each athlete will have different answers here depending again on where you are at, what time of the season it is, the upcoming competitions, current injuries and/or any other number of factors. Let your own body simply guide you. It is usually spot on!