Assessment of skill and performance – Improving PDHPE
Study Notes

In order to improve their performance, it is imperative an athlete, pair or team assess their level of skill and performance. This is in order to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie. By knowing this information, the coach can guide their training regime to improve their weaknesses and build upon their strengths. There are several things to consider when assessing the skill and performance of athletes, including knowing the characteristics or a skilled performer, objective and subjective performance measures, validity and reliability tests and personal versus prescribed judging criteria.

– Characteristics of a skilled performer (TACCK)

Technique

Technique refers to how the skill is carried out. In order for technique to be classified as “skilled”, the technique must be effective (having high yielding results), look smooth, use biomechanical principles to allow efficient use of effort (not too much energy is used up).

Anticipation

Anticipation refers to the ability to “read-play”. A skilled performer has usually had previous experience in the sport (or a sport where the gameplay is similar), and is able to predict what will happen next. An example of this is a striker anticipating a through-ball from their winger in soccer. They will start their run into space before the pass is made and is able to run onto the ball, carrying their speed and momentum in their attack.

Confidence

A skilled performer usually has the confidence to perform the required skills and difficult tasks with a large crowd and under pressure.

Consistency

A skilled performer can perform a skill regularly despite a change in environment or in high pressured situations.

Kinaesthetic Sense

A skilled performer is aware of their body, such as aware of body control and position. A skilled performer can feel the movement and feel when an error has occurred in the movement – they usually preconceived the result before it has occurred. This feeling has developed from experience and their muscle memory will inform the athlete of their error.

– Objective and Subjective Performance Measures

In sport, there is a need to measure an athlete’s performance. This could be to track the athlete’s improvement in performance or to compare a number of athletes against each other’s performance. When measuring performance, there are two types of measurements: objective measurement and subjective measurement.

Objective Measurement

This type of measurement uses results and data to assess performance. For example, in discus, the winner is determined by the measurement of the throw – the athlete who threw the furthest wins. Furthermore, by measuring an athlete’s throws over time, the coach and athlete can track any progress made. Objective measurements aim to remove human bias from the assessment process. Ways to measure an athlete’s performance objectively include measuring distance (discus), measuring height (high jump) and using a stopwatch (sprint).

A downside to only using objective measurements is the coach may limit their holistic understanding of the athlete’s performance and how to improve. For example, in soccer, a coach may only use a statistic like how many times a player touched the ball. Even though the player may have touched the ball less times than their teammates, they may have played well by creating space when the team had possession and, in defence, forced their opponent to pass the ball back/make an error.

Subjective Measurement

This type of measurement is based on a person’s opinion or judgement, as opposed to measuring devices like in objective measurement. Sports such as diving and boxing uses subjective measurement.

Subjective measurement can be valuable, as it may “fill in the missing gaps” provided by objective measurement. Additionally, this type of assessment may take into account “degree of difficulty” – something objective measurement can miss. However, this type of measurement can be biased, impeding the reliability of the assessment. Again, a way to minimise bias is to have a number of judges making the assessment, preferably using a prescribed criteria. An example of subjective measurement is a coach stating a player had the best goal of the year so far.

Making subjective measurement more objective

Strategies such as using a prescribed criteria can enable sports, which rely on subjective measurements become more objective. A prescribed criteria may increase the assessment’s objectivity depending on its design as well as the experience of the judge and if they are impartial. Further bias can be minimised by ensuring the criteria is specific and succinct (minimal room for personal subjective appraisal), as well as having a number of judges experienced in the sport using the same prescribed criteria.

– Validity and Reliability of tests

A test can be administered to assess a skill or components of fitness. However, it is imperative the test used are valid and reliable to ensure the results can be genuinely compared to past personal performance, the average or other athletes.

Validity refers to the test ability to measure the skill/component that is intended to be measured. For example, if a coach wanted to measure an athlete’s flexibility, a sit and reach test would be valid, whilst the beep test would not.

Reliability refers to the authenticity of the test, that is, the test must be able to be replicated over time and remain fair for all participants. This is why you will see most tests outline the instructions needed in order for the test to be carried out fairly: standard environment used, standard measurement used and provide the method step-by-step. If the test conducted is different from the instructions set, then the test is considered unreliable. For example, a coach split a team into two groups (attack and defence) and tested their VO2max using the Cooper Test. If the coach conducted the run for each group in the different conditions, e.g. Attack Group at night / Defence Group at midday or Attack Group standard 400m track / Defence Group 400m distance measured but has hills, then the test’s results are unreliable.

– Personal vs. Prescribed Judging Criteria

A criteria is used when judging the skill or performance of an athlete or team. There are two types of criteria, personal and prescribed.

Personal judging criteria: This can be done by anyone (a coach, family, teammates, spectators, etc). This type of criteria relies on the “judge’s” own perspective, feelings and opinions; therefore it is highly subjective in nature. Furthermore, it may incorporate the “judge’s” own expectations of the athlete or team.

An example of personal judging criteria includes an U10s soccer coach choosing the ‘Man of the Match’. The coach may have chosen this player because they “worked the hardest out there”. However, this is based on the elements of the game seen and focused on (it is hard to watch all 11 players at the same time), as well as the coach’s own opinion on what constitutes as hard work and what behaviours the coach values (e.g. hard tackles over forcing the error by jockeying). Furthermore, if the coach had lower expectations of the athlete and the athlete delivered a performance that fits the coach’s beliefs, then that would have influenced the decision also. Another example could include a spectator stating “Michael Jordan is the best basketball player ever” – this is based on their own personal criteria of what makes the best player in basketball.

Prescribed judging criteria: This is when a set criteria outlined by the sport’s governing body is provided to the judge/s. It is provided in attempt to minimise the subjectivity of the judging process, making it fairer and comparable to other performances. The governing body may also note various elements of the criteria that should weighted higher than others, e.g. the degree of difficulty.

However, as mentioned in the objective measurement and subjective measurement dash point, the design of the criteria is very important, especially in sports like skateboarding where there a different styles adopted by skaters. If the prescribed judging criterion favours one style over another, then the criteria could be deemed as biased and therefore less objective. In cases like these, it is important the judges meet and discuss the criteria to clarify their interpretation of what is expected within the performance.

Types of prescribed judging criteria can include:

– Scoring systems – i.e. keeping score

– Checklists – tick off when this element is performed

– Rating scales – continuum from low to high

– Rubrics – like a rating scale but with a description at each interval (low, medium, high, etc)

Full Written Notes

Critical question 4: How does the acquisition of skill affect performance?
Assessment of Skill and Performance

In order to improve their performance, it is imperative that an athlete, pair or team assess their level of skill and performance so they can identify their strengths and weaknesses. A coach can use this information to guide training regimes, targeting weaknesses and reinforcing strengths.

There are several factors to consider when assessing the skill and performance of athletes, including the characteristics or a skilled performer, objective and subjective performance measures, validity and reliability tests as well as personal versus prescribed judging criteria.

Characteristics of a skilled performer (TACCK)

Technique: Technique refers to how a skill is performed. In order for technique to be classified as “skilled”, it must be effective, have high yielding results, look smooth and use bio-mechanic principles, ensuring efficient use of effort and minimal waste of energy.

Anticipation: Anticipation refers to the ability to “read-play” and anticipate future outcomes. A skilled performer can draw on their previous experience to predict what will happen next. For example, in anticipation of a through-ball from their winger in soccer, a striker will start their run into empty space before the pass is made, which means they can intercept the ball without losing momentum.

Confidence: A skilled performer usually has the confidence to perform the required skills and other difficult tasks even under pressure or in the presence of a large crowd.

Consistency: Skilled performers demonstrate consistency; they can perform a skill regularly regardless of the type of environment or pressure of the situation.

Kinaesthetic Sense: A skilled performer is kinaesthetically aware of their body and is able to precisely control and position their movements. A skilled performer can sense the movement and feel when an error has occurred, typically before completing the skill. This feeling develops as a result of experience and muscle memory.

Objective and Subjective Performance Measures

An athlete’s performance must be regularly and effectively measured in order to monitor progress, track improvements and compare performances against other athletes. There are two types of measurement: objective and subjective.

Objective Measurement: Objective measurement uses results and data to assess performance. For example, in discus the winner is determined by the distance of the throw; the athlete who achieves the greatest distance wins. By measuring an athlete’s performance over time, the coach and athlete can track any progress made.

Objective measurements aim to remove human bias from the assessment process.

Ways to measure an athlete’s performance objectively include measuring distance (discus), measuring height (high jump) and using a stopwatch (sprint).

Limiting assessment to objective measurements only may prevent the coach, or athlete, developing a holistic understanding of performance and the potential for improvement. For example, in soccer, a coach may only use a statistic like how many times a player touched the ball. Even though the player may have touched the ball less times than their teammates, they may have played well by creating space when the team had possession and, in defence, forced their opponent to pass the ball back or make an error.

Subjective Measurement: Subjective measurement is based on a person’s opinion or judgement, as opposed to statistics or raw data. Many sports, including diving and boxing, use subjective measurement.

Subjective measurement can be valuable, as it may “fill in the missing gaps” which can result from objective analysis. This type of assessment can also take into account the “degree of difficulty” faced by an athlete. However, there is a risk bias, which can impede the reliability of results. An effective way to minimise bias is to involve multiple judges in the assessment process, preferably using prescribed criteria. An example of a subjective measurement is a coach stating a player has performed the best goal of the year.

Making subjective measurement more objective

Using a prescribed criteria   can help coaches, who rely on subjective measurements, make more objective assessments. The ability of prescribed criteria to increase objectivity will depend on the design as well as the experience and impartiality of the judge. Further bias can be minimised by ensuring the criteria is specific and succinct, with minimal room for personal or subjective appraisal, and recruiting a number of judges who are experienced in the sport to fill offer assessment.

Validity and Reliability of tests

A test can be administered to assess a skill or components of fitness. However, it is imperative the tests used are valid and reliable to ensure the results can be genuinely compared to past personal performance, the average or other athletes.

Validity refers to the tests ability to accurately measure the skill or component that it is intended to be measure. For example, if a coach wanted to measure an athlete’s flexibility, a sit and reach test would be valid, whilst the beep test would not.

Reliability refers to the authenticity of the test, that is, whether the test can be replicated over time and remain fair for all participants. This is why most tests outline detailed instructions which are designed to ensure fairness including, the standard environment used, standard measurement used and a step-by-step the method. If the test conducted is different from the instructions set, then the test is considered unreliable.

For example, consider a scenario where a coach splits a team into two groups (attack and defence) and tests their VO2max using the Cooper Test. If the coach conducts the run for each group in different conditions – the Attack Group at night and the Defence Group at midday or Attack Group on a standard 400m track and the Defence Group 400m on hilly terrain – then the results of the test are unreliable.

Personal vs. Prescribed Judging Criteria

A criteria is used when judging the skill or performance of an athlete or team. There are two types of criteria, personal and prescribed.

Personal judging criteria:

Personal judging criteria can be completed by anyone; a coach, family, teammates or even spectators. This type of criteria relies on the perspective, feelings and opinions of the judge and, therefore, is highly subjective in nature. This type of criteria may also incorporate the “judge’s” personal expectations of athlete or team performance.

An example of personal judging criteria is a scenario where an U10s soccer coach chooses the ‘Man of the Match’. The coach will likely have chosen this player because they “worked the hardest”. However, this is based on the perception of the coach and the elements of the game they noticed; it is difficult to focus on all 11 players at the same time. This assessment will also be affected by the opinion of the coach on what constitutes hard work and the behaviours they value, for example, hard tackles over forcing the error by jockeying. Furthermore, they coach may factor in their expectations; they may place higher significance on a typically poor player performing to an average level, than an excellent player demonstrating a consistently high skill level.

Another example of personal criteria is a spectator stating “Michael Jordan is the best basketball player ever”. This assessment is based on their own judgement of what constitutes an effective player, rather than objective data.

Prescribed judging criteria:

Prescribed criteria are a set of criterion outlined by a governing body or third party, which are then supplied to the judge(s). The aim of prescribed criteria is to minimise the subjectivity of the judging process, making it fairer and, therefore, comparable to other performances. The governing body may also note various elements of the criteria that should weighted higher than others, like the degree of difficulty.

However, as mentioned in the Objective measurement and subjective measurement dash point, the design of the criteria is very important, especially in sports like skateboarding where there a different styles adopted by skaters. If the prescribed judging criteria favours one style over another, then the criteria could be deemed as biased and therefore less objective. In cases like these, it is important that judges discuss and clarify their interpretations of the criteria and the performance.

Types of prescribed judging criteria include:

– scoring systems
– checklists
– rating scales on a continuum from low to high
– rubrics, which are like a rating scale but with a description at each interval