Player Post-Game Self Evaluations Improve Performance

Coaches and athletes must deal with the fact all games end with a team’s performance falling (more or less) into one of the following categories: 1) Won and played well. 2) Won but played poorly. 3) Lost and played well. 4) Lost and played poorly. Given the above four conditions, is there a constructive method when de-briefing a team so players will utilize the just-ended contest as a learning experience?

The following is an excerpt from the book Championship Performance Coaching Volume 2: 101 Practical, Proven Sports Psychology and Team Building Strategies to Win More This Season.

Athletes will be prone to openly demonstrate anger and disappointment following a game when their team plays poorly. These exaggerated postmortems are non-constructive, expressed with negative emotion and mostly inaccurate. They distort the coach and players’ perceptions of what actually took place on the court or field. Fueled by negative emotion, the coach may also inaccurately attribute the team’s poor play or loss to factors, after careful analysis, had a minimal impact on the team’s performance.

Immediately following a game, especially after a poor team performance, coaches should address psychological needs, e.g. leaving alone those who prefer to be left alone, reassuring those who need confidence boosted, and ensuring no one gets “too down” or sullen. Denigrating personal remarks made to specific team members add to the inaccurate self-assessment of factors responsible for a poor performance. Even more important, it leads players to attribute their poor performance to factors far removed from the “reality of the situation.”

In setting up an effective post game debriefing program, coaches usually have two common objectives across all sports: 1. Improve individual performance. 2. Utilize the just completed game as a tool to prepare for the next contest.

Recommendation: Have players fill out an evaluation form a few hours following a game to rate how they performed. You can tailor this form to criteria of your choosing. A meeting can be held the following day to discuss the player’s performance with the coach. At this meeting the coach can modify individual performance attributions and interact with the players in a positive and rational manner as sufficient time has elapsed to be objective.

For example, if the player is inaccurately self-critical, by utilizing the checklist coaches can objectively evaluate performance and place the negative aspects in proper context. Video review can be used here for supporting the positive. The coach can also give the team a written analysis, which stresses positive execution, while constructively stating areas that need to be improved.

The next day’s meeting, with one to one consultation, video review, and written analysis by both coaches and athletes will be 100% more effective than any post-game session immediately following a contest.

For hundreds more winning ideas on team building, motivation and mental game excellence, check out Championship Performance Coaching.