Explain how individual performance in sport can be analysed, identifying principles of good practice. Set out the role and value of such analysis to the coach.
Throughout the assignment, use specific sport examples to illustrate general principles.
Performance coaching is ‘…the purposeful improvement of competitive sports performance through a planned programme of preparation and competition’ (Lyle, 1999). The art of performance coaching is both multifaceted and multidisciplinary and is aimed to instigate observable changes in behaviour. Successful performance involves the incorporation of various disciplines and a number of different specialists.
On considering the essentials necessary for effective coaching behaviour, it becomes obvious that contributions to an athlete’s development constitute inputs in the area of technique (e.g. biomechanics and skill learning), physiology, psychology, nutrition, theoretical knowledge of the sport, lifestyle management and tactics. Although the coach may not be held personally responsible for providing all of the expertise in each particular area, their overall coaching role and responsibility is to plan and co-ordinate the various contributions to each and every athlete into an effective, individualised strategy for enhancing competitive performance.
The coaching or teaching of skill relies heavily upon analysis to improve athletic performance. Franks et al, (1983) defined a fundamental flow chart of the coaching process (see Fig.1). The flow chart summarises the coaching process in its observational, analytical and planning phase however relies considerably upon the subjective assessment of athletic performance.
Fig.1. Schema of the coaching process (Franks et al, 1983)
Memory is imperative for receiving, interpreting and utilising information to make effective decisions for the athlete in question. Much of this information however will only be stored in the short-term memory (STM), where is will cease to filter through to the unlimited long-term memory (LTM). It is suggested that only 7 ± 2 items of information can be stored in the STM, which explains the need for selective attention. Critical information of the competition therefore, may be lost in the process of interpretation and understanding relative data. Information perceived frequently consists of critical observations, and more often than not most peripheral action is lost. Research has proved to reinforce this theory and have highlighted severe human limitations within these processes. Emphasis has been placed on memory retention difficulties claiming soccer coaches are less that 45% accurate in their post-game assessment of what occurred during 45 minutes of play (Franks and Miller, 1986). Even with special training in observation, it is believed that coaches are only about to recall approximately 30-50% of key performance factors they had witnessed (,).
Although the coaching process itself does not become invalid, the reliability of the process does become questionable as the observation and analysis phase accommodates severe limitations. These limitations are prominent within all levels of sport, and although many great coaches are able to anticipate events and make appropriate changes to influence performance, even the best are prone to human error. The requirement for a systematic PA approach within coaching practice now becomes apparent, particularly as methods to collect valid and reliable performance data improve daily.