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Individual Psychological Needs Analysis

A needs analysis is a process by which an individual can highlight problems in their performances. They are used in order to help them improve and make interventions on their weaknesses. In order to perform a needs analysis on an individual, you must analyse their chosen sport and also the individual themselves in order to come up with actions needed to improve.

Performance profiling (PP) is a method that the coach and the client themselves can use together, assessing the client, and providing specific construct relevant to their sport. This profiling enables the client to identify the most important of the chosen characteristics are, and these form the basis for their self assessment. It can give an athlete a better understanding of the skills that they have. By knowing the most important characteristics, it enables the client to see how far off their desired level they are, which is important when conducting an intervention. Butler (1991) designed the performance profile as a means of enabling an athlete to present self-concept as a visual display that supplies information to both the athlete and the coach.

The PP technique is based upon the Personal Construct Theory by Kelly (1955). This theory suggests that people use ‘constructs’ to categorise people and situations that they encounter. He said that ‘your construct system is your truth as you understand and experience it – nobody else’s’. This suggests that everyone considers different things to be important. This was expanded on by Doyle & Gaynor (1997), who suggested that the performance profile highlights the athletes own interpretation of what they consider to be important, and that it is their own perceived strengths and weaknesses that are meaningful to them. PP has, as do all things, both positives and negatives. It does have a number of good uses which will benefit anybody taking part in one. These are things such as identifying areas that the athlete perceives to be in need of improvement and identification of potential discrepancies (Doyle & Gaynor 1997). Landers (1995) also identified that the technique has the potential to improve sporting performance. Butler & Hardy (1992) suggested that performance profiling can maximise the intrinsic motivation of athletes to train and perform. Despite this, Smith & Irwin (1993) believe that it is too related to just goal setting due to it referencing a characteristic and using and intervention to eradicate a weakness. Another weakness is that when using a client centred approach, is that you have to make sure the client is being entirely honest with you, as they could be rating themselves too highly in order to give themselves a better image. As well as this, it could be complicated when using an individual who is relatively inexperienced, as they may not know well enough their own sporting ability. In this case, Butler (1997) realised that athletes may not always choose or set the most appropriate goals, therefore sometimes the practitioner must steer them towards more appropriate ones.

Butler & Hardy (1992) suggested a basic method of PP, which involved three stages; introducing the idea (to the athlete), eliciting constructs, and then the assessment of these constructs. The first stage introduces a PP to the client as ‘a means of shedding light on how he or she is currently feeling about his/her preparation for competition’. It tries to understand what the athlete considers important factors. The second stage of the method is to determine, out of a list of constructs, which are the most important to elite performance. This can be done by asking the client, ‘What in your opinion are the qualities or characteristics of an elite athlete in your sport?’, but with an individual some assistance may be required to generate a broad list. The final stage of this method of PP is for the client to assess him or herself on the chosen constructs. The athlete will be asked to assess themselves on a scale of 1-10 for each construct with ‘not at all’ and ‘very much’, based on the level they are at now. A second rating on the same scale was made, which related to the ‘ideal’ level for optimum performance in their sport. This then shows the difference between the two ratings and how far off each idea level they are. A similar one was used by Newman & Crespo (2008) on professional tennis players, where the second rating was not an ideal level, but a realistic target set within a set period of time. The easiest way to do one of these profiles is to do it on a circular scale, cut into sections, and ringed, with each ring representing levels 1-10. The client should shade up to the level they believe they are currently are, and for the ‘ideal’ level, make a mark around the ring to clearly differentiate between the two. Doyle & Gaynor (1997) provided a number of important factors for sports practitioners to consider. They said that PP’s are used to identify areas of improvement, and should be used as a baseline to goal setting and interventions.

Psychological Skills Analysis (PSA) is ‘the opportunity to achieve maximal athletic performance through the use of sound physical training programs and testing procedures’ (Meyers et al 1996). It has also been described as ‘the opportunity to achieve maximal performance through the use of high quality psychological training programmes (Beauchamp, 1996). PSA is developed in order to help the progress of mental attributes in an athlete, and has only really become popular within the last ten years. It helps an athlete by setting goals, in order for them to achieve a target. The first aims from meeting with the client were to overcome low levels of focus and motivation, which are both needed at the highest level to succeed in any sport. Mahoney & Gabriel (1987) suggested five broad themes, or skills, as; anxiety measurement, concentration, self-confidence, mental preparation, and team emphasis. In order to not confuse a client, a very specific prescription of intervention must be made. This is because athletes all strive to be successful, and are all individual information that is too broad could be misinterpreted.

The analysis was completed on a golfer, ‘Paul’. He is an established County level player, and has represented England on a couple of occasions. He is looking to establish himself as a regular for his country. In order for him to become an elite performer, and gain professional status, every aspect of his performance, physical and mental, must be at the highest possible level. Paul has shone on a couple of occasions and things have looked promising for his career in the game, however he has never consistently performed enough to warrant a place in the England team. Paul has never had an opportunity to undergo psychological skills training, which can be a massive help to cope with pressures of playing to earn a place in the team.

Paul initially identified his main problems as not being focussed, prepared, or motivated enough. These factors can cause a massive problem when it comes to competition as he will not be in the correct frame of mind to take part. He also believes he has anger management issues, which mean that little mistakes could build up too much frustration in him, causing him to again lose focus. During a needs analysis, it is down to the researcher to provide knowledge of the outlined skills and ways to improve these aspects in order for them to no longer be problems for the athlete. Upon first meeting Paul, it was extremely important to give a good first impression, in order to establish boundaries and have the chance to gain a good rapport. During the time I spent with Paul, our client/coach partnership enabled me to explore his athletic history, and what social support he has had. It also allowed me to assess his health, and all the events in his life that have led to him being where he currently is in terms of success. When consulting with a client, some ethical issues must be addressed. Moore, Z.E. (2003) listed issues such as; confidentiality, informed consent and practicing within your area of competence.

Ethical Standards

A PP is a perfectly acceptable and ethical procedure. Everything was explained, with instructions given, before the first interview, as well as gaining informed consent, and informing my client that they could withdraw from the process at any time. Throughout the whole process confidentiality was kept very strict, with a fake name being used for the client for anonymity. Information was not shared with any third party. The aims and outcomes were discussed by both me and the client, therefore no form of deception was used, and it was agreed that any issues that may have arisen were to be addressed in the final session. The final session was to summarise the PP method, and encourage the client to be open about any issues they had. Had all these ethical procedures not been considered, results may have been compromised as there may have been trust issues between myself and the client, and the whole process would have been poor.

Method

There was an initial meeting between myself and the client, which was used solely to introduce ethical procedures.

The second meeting held was to determine Paul’s reasons for seeking advice, and for us together to come up with some aims. Also, a brief medical history was checked, and I asked him any information about any injuries or issues he knows that may arise when performing a PP.

It was determined that Paul’s main problem areas were focus, preparation and motivation. And a slight problem was anger management.

After this a PP was performed, and this highlighted his main problem areas. These were discussed and the main problem areas were presented to him.

Aims

Undercover reasons for Paul’s problems.

Use a PSA to provide an intervention method which would combat these problems.

Pauls PP can be seen in figure 1.

Construct

Desired Level

Current Level

Difference

Mentally Tough

10

7

3

Confidence

10

8

2

Focus

9

4

5

Motivation

10

5

5

Preparation

9

5

5

Anger Management

8

4

4

Reaction to Anxiety

10

9

1

Relaxed

10

8

2

Overcoming Adversity

9

8

1

Concentration

10

7

3

Stress Tolerance

8

7

1

Vision

10

9

1

Hard Work

10

8

2

The constructs highlighted in red are the ones of main concern.

The amber highlighted construct is an area of secondary concern.

Figure 1. Pauls Performance Profile

This table was completed only by Paul, as I wanted to maintain a client based approach throughout. Even though Paul had never done this before, I believe the table was straight forward enough for the results not to be compromised. Finding out his main weaknesses will be vital for Paul to break into the England team, so this was very important to him, and wanted me to help him help himself.

Discussion

Kelly (1955) described the way humans make sense of the world and what we believe to be important, as the Personal Construct Theory. Performance profiling is merely a way of an athlete doing this in relation to how far they feel they are away from performing at an elite level.

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Butler, R.J. & Hardy, L. (1992). The Performance Profile: Theory & Application. The Sport Psychologist. 6 (3), 257.

Butler, R. (1997). Performance profiling: Assessing the way forward. In R.J. Butler (Ed.),

Sports psychology in performance (pp.33-48). Oxford: Butterworth-Heineman.

Doyle, J & Gaynor, P. (1997). Performance Profiling and Construct Validity . The Sport Psychologist. 11 (4), 411-425.

Landers, D.M. (1995). Goal setting in sport and exercise: a research synthesis to resolve the controversy. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. 17 (2), 117-137.

Mahoney, M.J, Gabriel, T.J & Perkins, T.S. (1987). Psychological skills and exceptional athletic performance. The Sport Psychologist. 1 (3), 181-199.

Meyers, M.C et al. (1996). Psychological Skills Assessment and Athletic Performance in Collegiate Rodeo Athletes. Journal of Sport Behaviour. 19 (2), n.p.

Moore, Z.E. (2003). Ethical Dilemmas in Sport Psychology: Discussion and Recommendations For Practice. In: Roberts, M. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 6th ed. Washington: American Psychological Association. 601-610.

Newman, J & Crespo, M. (2008). Performance Profiling in Tennis. ITF Coaching and Sport Science Review . 15 (44), 12 - 1 6.

Smith, M. & Irwin, I.. (1993). The Performance Profile in Practice.Journal of Applied Sports Psychology. 5 (1), 48-63.

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