As I have been preparing skill sheets to hand out this week for all the gymnasts I coach, I have come to toil with the question, what makes the cut? I wish it were black and white, yes or no, but I am faced with girls who have almost every skill and then some, but are missing one very important skill to be able to move to the next level. Do I hold them back so that they can work on getting that one skill on one event, but be bored repeating the same skills they already have on the other events? Or do I move them up to the next level, assuming they will work hard to acquire that missing skill quickly, while I face frustration and questions from the coach I moved them up to be with? Then I have the other case where girls have acquired the more important skills, but are missing basic skills needed to move up. I wonder how much it will affect them in developing other skills, or if the next coach will even notice. Is it worth holding the girls back if they have the harder skills needed, but need some work on the basic ones? But wait, there’s more. Now with these considerations at hand, I have to think about the individual and consider her on a case-by-case basis. How well does she listen to and take instructions? How much effort does she put in? Is she quick to acquire skills or does she take a little longer to learn skills? Will she be taking someone else’s place who is more deserving? Will she consistently show the same skill level as when I tested her?
I imagine that assessment in sport psychology is much like this – plenty of room for grey areas, and the need for judgment on a case-by-case basis off of how well the SPC knows the individual. Paper and pen assessments may make diagnoses seem black and white, where you can reach a given diagnoses through the score of the answers, but pen and paper assessments are only as valid as the client is truthful in giving answers. Additionally, situational factors could come into play when the client is given an assessment – their mood or day’s events could greatly impact their answers to be different on one day versus another. At some point, the SPC has to make a judgment call when diagnosing based on what they know of their work with the individual to make the most accurate hypothesis or diagnosis of a client.