Recent research has showed that focusing on and maximising an athlete’s strengths and resources has a positive influence on their confidence, goal direction, coping ability and performance
Instead of the focus being on problem activation (discussing problems, experiencing the emotional impact of these and finding solutions) moving the focus onto resource activation (discussing an athlete’s personal resources, strengths, and the healthy aspects of their situation) creates a positive mental shift and encourages momentum in performance across a variety of settings.
A simple enough concept it would seem, yet a strategy that is not often routinely used in sport!
So what is a super strength in sport performance?
This is the idea that an athlete has or can become “super” in a unique capability that has been identified to be crucial in gaining an edge over their competition. These strengths are specific and relative to the sporting context they are in. They can be identified subjectively through observation, player-team-coach discussion and through objective means such as performance statistics and analysis. Having the athlete involved in identifying their own strengths and co-creating the strategies for developing them enhances their autonomy and ownership which leads to greater goal-directed effort and psychological well-being.
According to self-determination theory, if our three basic human needs: autonomy (self-driven e.g. choosing and completing a training task in sport), relatedness (feeling closely connected to important others, e.g. team mates, coaches in sport) and competence (belief that they can achieve e.g. has repeatedly achieved a particular task to a set level) are met then self-motivation and satisfaction increases.
Therefore knowing the when, where and how to use these super strengths most effectively to gain a competitive edge is also important to identify. For example if an athlete has the super strength of explosive take-off speed, then utilizing this on a fast break during a game would be a better application than having them use this skill consistently across a total game. Similarly having athletes and coaches co-create training routines that allow maximisation of the athlete’s super strengths is vital.
This can lead the way to developing a performance plan that is underpinned by the athlete’s own unique super-strengths which can help athletes cope more effectively with performance pressure.
Knowing and believing in what gives YOU that competitive edge over your opponents creates a super strength strategy for performance.