Athletes all strive to be great and some get there. They get to play in college, and possibly even after college. However, what if there was another level to reach. Well, there is, and it is when an athlete can reach their peak performance more consistently and reduce the fluctuation in performance long term. Very few reach this level of consistent peak performance. Now you may ask what the secret is to not just reaching your peak performance but maintaining it consistently. It is focusing on all four aspects of the complete player and practicing, and strengthening each area to its optimal level.
As parents, coaches, and even an athlete, we need to stop asking how one player got so lucky as to have reached this new level of excellence. The question should be, “How do we train athletes to get to this next level?” Why don’t we focus on creating complete athletes so they can consistently reach their peak? We expect them to be at this level, yet we don’t give them the tools and train them in all the aspects needed to be a complete player.
The complete player comprises 4 major aspects. These comprise the physical aspect of the game, the technical skills needed to perform your sport, the tactical aspects and understanding, and finally the psychological piece of the game. It is said that most sports’ successes come from using and maximizing a combination of technical, tactical, physical, and psychological abilities (Hardy, Jones & Gould, 1997; Hodge, 2007; Orlick, 2000; Weinberg & Gould, 1999).
The 4 aspects of a complete player
(Not in any specific order of importance)
Athletes have to be physically fit to be able to perform at their best in a competition. Endurance, speed, agility, and strength are physical aspects important to sports. Athletes must learn proper techniques and routines to develop and maintain their fitness.
No athlete becomes great without hours of practice. They work on their sport-specific skills in practice and on their own. These technical skills are very important to an athlete performing well in competition. The continuous practice helps create, develop, and refine muscle memory for the athletes.
As athletes develop their technical skills, they then learn the tactical aspects of the sport. Tactical training helps give athletes solutions to situations in competition and focuses on the practical implementation of these solutions within a strategy/plan. To develop tactical skills, it takes preparation and analysis of situations so the athletes can have mental solutions and movement solutions to make the proper decision in a competition.
Psychological skills, like technical or tactical aspects of a sport, must be learned, developed, and practiced by the athlete (Hardy, Jones & Gould, 1997; Hodge, 2007; Weinberg & Gould, 1999). Weinberg and Gould (1999) state that some coaches attribute between 50-90% of an athlete’s success to their psychological skills, and those detriments to performance can arise from none or improper mental preparation (Orlick, 2000; Weinberg & Gould, 1999). This last piece is one of the most ignored pieces to the complete player and is essential to get athletes to that next level.
The combination of these four aspects creates the complete player which helps an athlete go beyond great into new frontiers of consistent peak performance. Now that we know these 4 areas, how do we help athletes become complete players?
3 simple steps to creating a complete player
1. Qualified Resources
Find the right resources who are qualified in each of these areas. To become your best, you need to get training from qualified people who will not just teach you what you need to know but will teach you the right way from the start. This is important in all four areas. You want the right fitness and strength regimen for the athlete, specific to their sport, and teach them proper technique and form to avoid injury. The same goes for the psychological piece. Make sure you are working with an accredited Sport Psychology consultant who is trained in developing and improving cognitive function. Finally, find coaches who are trained and well respected for their development of athletes. These qualified resources will help shape the athlete into the complete player they deserve to become.
Every area needs to be taught properly, practiced continuously, and refined to improve and grow as an athlete. Giving the athletes the proper tools is important so they can take ownership of their development and practice on their own. Even the very best have to practice continuously to maintain and hone each skill set. This quote is a great reminder that we must not just practice for the sake of practice, but we must practice correctly!
Positive reinforcement can go a very long way in an athlete’s development. By affirming the athlete’s progress and successes, you are not only improving an athlete’s confidence but also encouraging continuous growth in the athlete’s development. The word affirmation means to make firm, so make firm the positive growth in an athlete. The same for encouragement; it means to inspire courage. How powerful that is to inspire continuous growth of courage in an athlete!
Now we are aware of what a complete athlete looks like and how to get them to reach their peak performance consistently. So let’s stop aiming lower than we should as athletes and as those developing the athlete. With the right tools, knowledge, and resources, athletes can reach new heights of performance. Marcus Aurelius says it best, “A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.”
So be ambitious for a positive change and help your players become more ambitious.
Don’t aim for great, aim to be a complete player, aim for consistent peak performance.
If you are interested in working on improving as an athlete to become a complete player or want to get your athletes the tools and resources they need to become complete players, contact us to set up a session.
Hardy, L., Jones, G, & Gould, D. (1997). Understanding psychological preparation for sport: Theory and practice of elite performers. London, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Hodge, K. (2007). Sport motivation: Training your mind for peak performance. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Books.
Orlick, T. (2000). In pursuit of excellence: How to win in sport and life through mental training (3rd ed.). United States of America: Human Kinetics.
Weinberg, R. S. & Gould, D. (1999). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology (2nd ed.). United States of America: Human Kinetics.