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Performance Profile

6 October 2011 Andrew Verdon

As a table here's how his/her results would look

"As a table here's how his/her results would look"

So, another season has passed and a new one is about to begin. You are determined to move up the results table next year at major regattas. What's the best way to identify what and where you need to spend your time and effort, in order to find the improvement you seek?

Performance profiling is a process that assesses the particular skills a competitor deems important to success in their sport and is derived from a well-known 1992 research study by Butler and Hardy. It can be used to identify goals as a focus for self-improvement. As the person involved in the goal setting process, it makes it self-determining, due to their perspective as the central focus, as opposed to a third person or outside party setting the goals. It can be done by a single person (e.g. the bowman wants to improve his skill in reading pressure lines and shifts in light air) or as a whole crew (e.g. heavy air gybe drops)

Why is it used?
1. To develop strategies
2. To increase motivation
3. To monitor changes (improvements) over time

There are three steps in the performance profile process: -

Step One - Explanation
This initial step determines the characteristics that someone determines are important to success in their sport/class or a skill within that sport/class.

Step Two - Development
Here, a list of qualities, skills and characteristics are developed that the person believes are necessary for good performance. The person writes down as many qualities as they can come up with (there's no limit to how many) and should cover all aspects of performance including:

- Technique
- Physical requirements
- Mental skills
- Personal qualities
- Characteristics

From this exhaustive list, the top ten are selected that are deemed by the competitor to be the most important.

Step Three - Self-rating
The final step is to have the person rate their ability levels for each factor on a scale from one to ten. A chart is then constructed. This graph gives people clear indications of their strengths and weaknesses on the factors they have deemed important.

The positive aspect of this procedure is that the athletes themselves determine the characteristics that are important and what they are lacking in. It can be used as an assessment procedure, as well as an aid to goal setting, a way of monitoring progress and a tool for establishing good communication within team/crews.

After the person has identified the areas that need improving, they then need to put the steps into practise, by learning the necessary skills and techniques to improve them.

I have found this can be a valuable process. As Butler and Hardy identified, there are several benefits from this performance profile that include:

- Highlights strengths and areas to work on
- Clarifies vision and direction
- Highlights discrepancies between current and desired results
- Ability to monitor progress
- Assists in the design of a specific training program that addresses the areas to focus on.

For example, let's look at an example of a Weekend club sailor (any position on the boat), who sails in a high quality Etchells fleet and wants to qualify for the Worlds. He/she has noticed last season that they get tired in long races, their back gets sore and the crew weight is always a little above the ideal. The athlete in question sails well at club level on their regular Saturday waterway, due to local knowledge, and wants to improve for State and National Championships next season, in a large fleet of over 40 boats, potentially.

The Top 10 factors he/she identified for success in his/her class, in no particular order, were:

1. Concentration over full days sailing in regattas
2. Determination/persistence
3. Calmness
4. Starting ability
5. Fitness
6. First beat strategy
7. Correct body weight
8. Hiking
9. Upwind speed
10. Weather knowledge

As a table here's how his/her results would look (see right).

He/she scored themself with four 'Seven's or better. So, their focus on what to work on should therefore be the items in which they gave themselves a six or less. Investing some time, effort and money into these areas will give a larger 'return on investment', than the other factors.

It needs to be stressed there are no right or wrong answers, a just an honest appraisal of your current feelings. This will help make the process more productive and effective for you.


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