If you like this article please share it with your friends and colleagues

    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! What we learn from raising the bar in sport performance

    One of the more interesting things that I remember from my thirty years as a swimming coach is how the power of high expectation works. How expecting athletes to rise to the challenge of whatever they are training for quietly helps them focus their efforts on exactly where they should be and what they should be doing.

    I witnessed high expectations in action while working with my sport association in hosting the annual swimming championship. The competition was an age group meet and there were qualifying times for each event that swimmers had to meet before they could enter. But over the years the number of athletes attending the meet grew to the point where the meet became almost unmanageable. There were too many athletes and the competition was simply taking too long to complete.

    One year we decided that we had to reduce the number of athletes attending. Since it was a championship it wasn't possible to simply cap the numbers, everyone had to have a chance to qualify. Our only option was to lower the qualifying times, thus making it harder to qualify for the meet. Adjusting the qualifying times was really the only tool we had that could do this.

    So, we lowered the qualifying time in every event. Athletes would now have to swim faster than they did the year before if they wanted to earn the right to compete in next year's championship. This, we thought, would reduce the number of athletes qualified to enter the competition and the meet would be back to a more manageable number of competitors. Or so we thought.

    The following year, when the entries started coming in I noticed something strange. Team entries were bigger, not smaller as we expected. Teams that had only 10 swimmers in the meet last year now had 20. Teams with 80 swimmers the previous year now entered 110. We ended up with a meet that was even bigger than previous years. But the athletes in the meet were swimming faster than ever before. Every coach was talking about how making the times more challenging somehow motivated young athletes to greater heights.

    This response to 'raising the bar' reinforces how behaviour of large groups can be influenced through structural frameworks. The qualifying times were part of the swimming championship structure. As coaches we believed that we were simply controlling the size of the championship meet when we made it tougher to qualify but the athletes saw it differently. They saw it as a challenge, one many responded to in exactly the way we hope athletes would. By training harder and swimming faster.

    The lesson is that in sport we should always have high expectations because that's the best way to motivate athletes. Expecting anything less than what they're capable of disrespects their efforts and dooms them to mediocre performances. As Steve Prefontaine said, "To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift." Never underestimate the power of expectations.


    Bill Price (price@sportkid.asia) is the owner and Chief Data Scientist at Sportkid Metrics.

     

    All articles

    Fear of missing out is hurting youth sports - 23 October 2018 (1009 views)

    Deliberate practice vs. late specialization - 24 September 2018 (258 views)

    Is talent identification even possible? - 17 September 2018 (258 views)

    Who won the Asian Games? - 10 September 2018 (450 views)

    Re-thinking the mission of Malaysia's sport associations - 03 September 2018 (316 views)

    Using maturity offsets to determine age at peak height velocity - 27 August 2018 (310 views)

    The youth sport talent illusion: How we confuse early-maturers with good athletes - 13 August 2018 (267 views)

    The tip of the iceberg: What are we seeing when we watch elite sport performances? - 30 July 2018 (477 views)

    7 things youth sport coaches should know - 25 June 2018 (303 views)

    Who is responsible for athlete performance: Athletes, coaches, or committees? - 18 June 2018 (248 views)

    Creating a culture of achievement in sport - 05 June 2018 (403 views)

    Sport development in the headlines (sort of): Is Malaysia really serious about revamping their sports system? - 28 May 2018 (265 views)

    Who won the Commonwealth Games? A points analysis of the Gold Coast games - 23 April 2018 (330 views)

    Kaizen: Improving sport administration will improve performance - 02 April 2018 (360 views)

    What can Malaysia learn from Norway about sport development? - 05 March 2018 (604 views)

    More efficiency tips for coaches: Dealing with more than one email address and other communication ideas - 26 February 2018 (357 views)

    Efficiency tips for coaches: What can you do to work more efficiently? - 19 February 2018 (388 views)

    LTAD: Training to compete - 22 January 2018 (385 views)

    Sport clubs are the lifeblood of national sport development. They need help from sport associations to do their job. - 15 January 2018 (326 views)

    Sometimes taking risks is the only way to improve: Take a chance! - 18 December 2017 (239 views)

    How we calculate age in youth sports can have benefits and consequences - 11 December 2017 (1872 views)

    What is bio-banding? Can it help reduce the relative age effect in sport? - 04 December 2017 (441 views)

    Understanding the role that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in the athlete development process - 20 November 2017 (607 views)

    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! What we learn from raising the bar in sport performance - 14 November 2017 (381 views)

    Why process is far more important than outcome in a learning environment - 25 September 2017 (484 views)

    Sport associations are embracing physical literacy training - 18 September 2017 (454 views)

    Creating a true sport development system in Malaysia - 11 September 2017 (1702 views)

    Who won the SEA Games? - 04 September 2017 (746 views)

    KL2017: Reporting individual sport results deserved better planning - 29 August 2017 (514 views)

    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes? - 07 August 2017 (478 views)

    Using the team selection process to boost motivation and increase athlete participation - 24 July 2017 (598 views)

    LTAD: The Train to Train stage - 10 July 2017 (926 views)

    LTAD: The Learn-to-Train stage - 26 June 2017 (520 views)

    Athletic training for youngsters - 12 June 2017 (500 views)

    Visualization and imagery in sports - 05 June 2017 (491 views)

    Young, single-sport athletes suffer more injuries and do not reach their full potential - 29 May 2017 (718 views)

    Transformational vs. transactional coaching - 23 May 2017 (469 views)

    Will they come back tomorrow? The most important KPI for youth sport coaches - 08 May 2017 (442 views)

    Advice to parents of young athletes - 01 May 2017 (426 views)

    Is VIP leadership of sport associations a good idea? - 22 March 2017 (479 views)

    What happens after an athlete's initial introduction to sport? - 27 February 2017 (458 views)

    "Where do athletes come from?" A paper presented at the Kuching sport psychology conference - 16 January 2017 (589 views)

    Understanding sport talent pathways - 09 January 2017 (546 views)

    Make 2017 the year of the growth mindset - 02 January 2017 (460 views)

    Teaching physical literacy skills in youth sport practices - 12 December 2016 (477 views)

    Developing sport from the ground up: How does the process really work? - 06 December 2016 (139 views)

    Pay for what you want: Why less government funding may be the best strategy for sport development - 21 November 2016 (426 views)

    The 10,000 hour rule: "Not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient" - 14 November 2016 (461 views)

    Parent involvement in their child's sport participation sometimes backfires - 07 November 2016 (433 views)

    How to do the measurements for determining peak height velocity (PHV) - 24 October 2016 (1425 views)

    A foreign coach is not always the answer - 17 October 2016 (418 views)

    Tips on creating an effective coaching environment - 10 October 2016 (793 views)

    Peak height velocity and aerobic development: Using simple measurement data to inform training decisions - 26 September 2016 (1749 views)

    Early sport specialization is still not a good idea - 19 September 2016 (405 views)

    What kind of data do we need to develop sports? - 13 September 2016 (496 views)

    The attrition and transformation models of sport development - 05 September 2016 (442 views)

    Solve for <x> - 29 August 2016 (407 views)

    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia - 15 August 2016 (413 views)

    Time is the most important factor in talent development - 01 August 2016 (1511 views)

    What if opportunity never knocks? - 13 June 2016 (479 views)

    The long-term athlete development framework offers youngsters a chance at sport success and an active and healthy life - 06 June 2016 (969 views)

    Early sport specialization is not a good development strategy - 30 May 2016 (1340 views)

    What does a declining population mean for sport? - 2 February 2016 (2022 views)

    Coaching 'flow' - 11 November 2015 (580 views)

    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment - 02 November 2015 (463 views)

    When should athletes specialize in a single sport? - 11 September 2015 (482 views)

    Physical literacy: The Holy Grail of health, wellness, and sport development - 1 September 2015 (520 views)

    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule: Practical thoughts on talent and practice - 10 August 2015 (540 views)

    The power of 'not yet' - 20 July 2015 (439 views)

    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it - 22 June 2015 (596 views)

    Fear of missing out is hurting youth sports - 23 October 2018


    Deliberate practice vs. late specialization - 24 September 2018


    Is talent identification even possible? - 17 September 2018


    Who won the Asian Games? - 10 September 2018


    Re-thinking the mission of Malaysia's sport associations - 03 September 2018


    Using maturity offsets to determine age at peak height velocity - 27 August 2018


    The youth sport talent illusion: How we confuse early-maturers with good athletes - 13 August 2018


    The tip of the iceberg: What are we seeing when we watch elite sport performances? - 30 July 2018


    7 things youth sport coaches should know - 25 June 2018


    Who is responsible for athlete performance: Athletes, coaches, or committees? - 18 June 2018


    Creating a culture of achievement in sport - 05 June 2018


    Sport development in the headlines (sort of): Is Malaysia really serious about revamping their sports system? - 28 May 2018


    Who won the Commonwealth Games? A points analysis of the Gold Coast games - 23 April 2018


    Kaizen: Improving sport administration will improve performance - 02 April 2018


    What can Malaysia learn from Norway about sport development? - 05 March 2018


    More efficiency tips for coaches: Dealing with more than one email address and other communication ideas - 26 February 2018


    Efficiency tips for coaches: What can you do to work more efficiently? - 19 February 2018


    LTAD: Training to compete - 22 January 2018


    Sport clubs are the lifeblood of national sport development. They need help from sport associations to do their job. - 15 January 2018


    Sometimes taking risks is the only way to improve: Take a chance! - 18 December 2017


    How we calculate age in youth sports can have benefits and consequences - 11 December 2017


    What is bio-banding? Can it help reduce the relative age effect in sport? - 04 December 2017


    Understanding the role that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in the athlete development process - 20 November 2017


    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! What we learn from raising the bar in sport performance - 14 November 2017


    Why process is far more important than outcome in a learning environment - 25 September 2017


    Sport associations are embracing physical literacy training - 18 September 2017


    Creating a true sport development system in Malaysia - 11 September 2017


    Who won the SEA Games? - 04 September 2017


    KL2017: Reporting individual sport results deserved better planning - 29 August 2017


    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes? - 07 August 2017


    Using the team selection process to boost motivation and increase athlete participation - 24 July 2017


    LTAD: The Train to Train stage - 10 July 2017


    LTAD: The Learn-to-Train stage - 26 June 2017


    Athletic training for youngsters - 12 June 2017


    Visualization and imagery in sports - 05 June 2017


    Young, single-sport athletes suffer more injuries and do not reach their full potential - 29 May 2017


    Transformational vs. transactional coaching - 23 May 2017


    Will they come back tomorrow? The most important KPI for youth sport coaches - 08 May 2017


    Advice to parents of young athletes - 01 May 2017


    Is VIP leadership of sport associations a good idea? - 22 March 2017


    What happens after an athlete's initial introduction to sport? - 27 February 2017


    "Where do athletes come from?" A paper presented at the Kuching sport psychology conference - 16 January 2017


    Understanding sport talent pathways - 09 January 2017


    Make 2017 the year of the growth mindset - 02 January 2017


    Teaching physical literacy skills in youth sport practices - 12 December 2016


    Developing sport from the ground up: How does the process really work? - 06 December 2016


    Pay for what you want: Why less government funding may be the best strategy for sport development - 21 November 2016


    The 10,000 hour rule: "Not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient" - 14 November 2016


    Parent involvement in their child's sport participation sometimes backfires - 07 November 2016


    How to do the measurements for determining peak height velocity (PHV) - 24 October 2016


    A foreign coach is not always the answer - 17 October 2016


    Tips on creating an effective coaching environment - 10 October 2016


    Peak height velocity and aerobic development: Using simple measurement data to inform training decisions - 26 September 2016


    Early sport specialization is still not a good idea - 19 September 2016


    What kind of data do we need to develop sports? - 13 September 2016


    The attrition and transformation models of sport development - 05 September 2016


    Solve for <x> - 29 August 2016


    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia - 15 August 2016


    Time is the most important factor in talent development - 01 August 2016


    What if opportunity never knocks? - 13 June 2016


    The long-term athlete development framework offers youngsters a chance at sport success and an active and healthy life - 06 June 2016


    Early sport specialization is not a good development strategy - 30 May 2016


    What does a declining population mean for sport? - 2 February 2016


    Coaching 'flow' - 11 November 2015


    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment - 02 November 2015


    When should athletes specialize in a single sport? - 11 September 2015


    Physical literacy: The Holy Grail of health, wellness, and sport development - 1 September 2015


    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule: Practical thoughts on talent and practice - 10 August 2015


    The power of 'not yet' - 20 July 2015


    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it - 22 June 2015