Building & Rebuilding Better Athletes - Sports Physical Therapy & Performance Enhancement In Las Vegas, NV
Part 2: Needs Assessment - Not Always As Obvious As It Seems
What is a 'Needs Assessment?'
Simply defined, a Needs Assessment is:
"A systematic process for determining and addressing needs, or "gaps" between current conditions and desired conditions or "wants. The discrepancy between current condition and wanted condition must be measured to appropriately identify the need."
As you probably would have assumed from the name, this is an assessment of what one needs relative to a particular set of circumstances. Okay so what's the immediate take away from the above definition?
1. The process is systematic -- it is a planned assessment or evaluation that has a thought out process, and an idea of What you are going to measure, and How you are going to measure it.
2. Measurement is necessary and vital - you have to know what you have and how it functions to know what you don't have or still need, right? To say an athlete is fast or strong gives little meaningful information if we don't know what the context is. Fast or strong compared to who or in what circumstances?
3. Re-testing is also required - how do you know you've improved, met your goals, or still have work to do if you don't re-test?
The Needs Assessment is a multifaceted en-devour. It involves the athlete and coach communicating what their expectations and wants are, what they are looking to accomplish, and what their athletes need to be able to do on a regular basis. It also involves an evaluation of logistics - how often does the athlete have to train during the week, how much will be in-house and how much will be the athlete following the program off-site? What access does the athlete have to certain equipment, etc? What is the time line for the event we are programming and preparing for?
Then there is the Athlete Evaluation part of this Needs Assessment. When we embark on programming and training for our athletes, it is important to have an evaluation process in place that is Comprehensive, Relevant, and Repeatable.
A. Comprehensive: The Athlete Evaluation should look to cover all bases and expose all holes. Depending on your background and scope of practice, this process may require multiple disciplines doing a part. To start, it should give us a picture of the health status of the athlete. Information on health history and injury history should be obtained. Appropriate systems screening should be performed. A more thorough orthopedic assessment should be performed if recent injury or surgery has been reported. Movement Screening can then be utilized to assess proficiency with baseline fundamental movements and identify provocation of pain or deficiencies that require addressing before loading the system. Lastly comes Performance Testing - the more 'sport specific' and 'fitness specific' testing.
B. Relevant: The tests and measures used in the Athlete Evaluation should be relevant in that they measure variables that are meaningful. They also must measure in a way that is meaningful. Tests & measures do not necessarily all have to be a direct reflection of sport movements, but there should be an industry standard applied to make the information comparable and meaningful. For example, if you train football players and the commonly reported and utilized test of speed is a 40 yard sprint, then it would make sense to measure your athlete's time in a 40 yard sprint, as opposed to measuring them at a 35 or 50 yard sprint. Will they need to sprint 35 or 50 yards in their sport, sure probably, just not during a Combine -- when it counts! Relevance can also apply to the tests chosen based on sport and position.
C. Repeatable: Procedures and individual tests & measures must be repeatable. It should go without saying, but testing once at the start of a program is not enough. We must continually assess and reassess the athlete in order to identify effectiveness of our programming. Simply adding weight to a lift or adding time onto a run is not an equivalent of success. If your football player is an offensive lineman who increases weight in his bench press, squat, and dead lift but can't move his feet quick enough to block the guy across the ball from him, your program was ineffective. If your fighter can go hard for 5 rounds of 5 minute high intensity intervals, but gasses out during his actual fight due to lack of aerobic conditioning, your programming was ineffective. Wouldn't it be nice to know that before it's "Go-Time?"
If you re-test and you are finding holes still exist which make you start to question the program's effectiveness, we then have to look for the Why? Is something missing? Is the athlete no following the program as you meant it to be followed? Has the coach made changes and instructed the athlete but neglected to inform you?
Is what you deem important not given as much value by the athlete or coach? This can be a big one. Sometimes the athlete does not see the same value or relevance to a particular variable because they don't fully understand its application to performance. It is our job to effectively communicate that what we are asking the athlete to do will increase their performance and is applicable to their sport or event.
In many cases, when dealing with young athletes or athletes who have not had access to resources like a performance coach, the athlete simply is not aware because they have never had the guidance or direction and thus do not have the depth of knowledge in programming or training. Often times the just go into the gym and do whatever workout they were shown by their last coach or teammate. This is often a source of untapped potential, but will require a fair amount of educating on the front side.
If you are an athlete looking for help with your training or with overcoming an injury, schedule your initial appointment HERE.
If you are a coach looking for solutions to getting your athlete or team ready for competition, contact Athletes Physiotherapy at (702)-930-8155 or by email: Kbosch@athletespt.com for information on how we can improve your performance!
Athletes Physiotherapy - Las Vegas, NV
Thank you for stopping by the Athletes Physiotherapy Blog! Kristopher Bosch founded Athletes Physiotherapy in Las Vegas, NV. He is a Father, physical therapist, athletic trainer, pilates teacher, & perpetual student!
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