Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49er’s quarterback, has been in the NFL for seven years. And before this year, no one seemed to think he was particularly good (for a NFL quarterback that is) (Chadiha, 2012). But writer Jeffri Chadiha’s assessment sings a different tune. When he considers Smith’s career, he believes the quarterback possessed the important characteristics for success – the brain, the body, and the persistence – all along. It just took Smith six years to find, or fall into, the right environment. According to Chadiha, Smith was just missing the right pit crew – a coach that knew how to use him and help him, as well as an offense that gave him the time and a defense that gave him the space, to win (Chadiha, 2012).

            Now, there are two important lessons for assessment that can be learned from Alex Smith and Jeffri Chadiha. One, the environment, or what’s going on around the athlete that they cannot always control, impacts success and should be considered when working with an athlete or considering their performance potential. In Smith’s case, his environment hindered his performance, but his potential might have been noticed sooner if this variable was taken into greater account (Chadiha, 2012). Two, repeated assessments are important. As Chadiha notes, quarterbacks gain experience through the years, even if the years are less than stellar, that can aid them later in their career (Chadiha, 2012). In other words, what an assessment tells you about an athlete’s potential during his first year can be outdated a day, a week, a month, a year (or six) later. So, put together, what does this tell us?? Assess your athlete and how the environment is impacting their performance, and do it frequently – their breakout season might be closer than you think.


Chadiha, J. (2012, January 20). Easy to see why Smith is succeeding. Retrieved from