One of the most difficult aspects of training for a sustained period of time is that of self assessment. It’s very easy for your own perspective to be distorted when you are trying deliver an appraisal of your own perfomance. Here are four tips for assessing your own performance and progression through your training.
1. Consciously appraise what’s good as well as what’s bad
Critiquing your own performance is a fundamental part of your growth. If you do this then it’s natural to focus on what you could do better as that’s obviously where the opportunity for growth is. However, the problem with this is that it can have a very negative impact mentally. If you continuously focus on what you’re doing wrong then you’re constantly reinforcing a perception of yourself that is not positive. Set yourself a rule that for every element that you criticise you’ll also find at least one element or area of your training where you are doing well. Doing this will help keep your motivation and confidence high but it will also help you to become more aware of your strengths which is just as important to your training when you are formulating a programme for progression. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that identifying what you’re doing well also helps you to progress technically. If a particular skill or part of your game has started to work well for you then it’s important that you recognise it so that you reinforce the behaviour. If you don’t consciously appraise the positive points of your training it’s likely that you’ll be so focused on the next negative issue that you won’t solidify the elements that have just started to work well.
2. Video yourself training
It can be very difficult to accurately recall just how good (or bad) you were previously, especially if you are trying to comparatively assess your performance over a period of six months or more. If you’re actively competing in some way then you may be fortunate enough to have some video footage of yourself that you can refer back to but even if you do have that it’s a good idea to get someone to take some footage out you training on an average night. Try to capture a variety of skills and a variety of intensities and if you’re not too camera shy try to include a diary piece at the start or at the end where you make notes about the skills and techniques you’re working on at that time and the elements you’re struggling with. It’s very rare that you won’t be able to look back on this in six months time and be surprised at just how far you’ve come and of course it’s immediately useful to analyse and improve your technique in the short term.
3. Tell someone else how good they are
Progression may be difficult to recognise in yourself but the chances are you’re seeing it in your fellow members all the time. Sometimes it can feel like everyone else is moving forward while you’re standing still. It’s very unlikely to be the case that you’re not progressing and it’s highly likely that other people are recognising the progression you are making. As a coach I make a point of saying it immediately if I see progression in someone, reminding them of how much they’ve improved in whichever area I’ve noticed it. I would encourage everyone to do this, not just coaches. If you see someone doing something great or you’ve really noticed progress in someone then tell them! So this tip is really about playing your part in making sure this kind of culture exists at the gym, start telling people when you notice their progression and before long it will be paid back with a compliment that comes your way. If this is not really happening for whatever reason you could always just ask a fellow student, particularly someone more experienced than yourself.
4. Beat yourself
There are few elements to training that are static, things are changing all the time. The skills you are working on, the intensity and frequency of your training, the classes you are attending, the people that you are training with, these elements are very dynamic. This means that having consistent benchmarks for assessing your performance is essential. The consistent measure of progress of course is yourself. This may seem obvious but it’s easy to suddenly find yourself measuring your progress against other external factors that you aren’t in control of – in particular, other members of the gym. Every time you find yourself comparing your abilities to others stop, take a breath and remind yourself that the only real measure of your progression is how you stack up against yourself. Try not to compare yourself week on week as performance can vary greatly in short measures like this, try to be in the habit of looking back at least three months, preferably six.
And the question you ask is simple
If I was competing against myself from six months ago, would I win?
That’s really one of the best objectives that you can set yourself, I should always be in a position where the me of today should be able to beat the me of old. Put in this light it’s much easier to be positive about your progression, even after training for over 30 years I’m fairly confident about making this statement most of the time. When I look at pieces in isolation I can sometimes believe that I haven’t progressed much but when I am able to take a more holistic overview in this way then I’m confident that the me of today wins.
Hopefully these tips will help you to understand and recognise the progression that you’re making and stop you from being overly negative or critical with your own appraisal. It’s very easy to believe that you’re not progressing or that you’ve hit a plateau but actually that’s highly unlikely. With a healthier perspective you’ll likely to remind yourself that hard work pays off and that with effort comes reward.