Steps to Improve Your Player Evaluations
Are you the person who gets handed the pile of paper after a sports evaluation and gets prized for doing countless hours of mind-numbing data entry? What about the coach that gets handed a team, and after seeing the kids listed wondering “How did that kid make this team?”
This blog is dedicated to all the coaches who give selflessly to their sport, to make their lives easier, and improve what to do with the information we as coaches spend hours gathering.
Problems With Player Evaluations
- Athletes almost never received any formal feedback on their performance after an evaluation
- Coaches spend countless hours doing data entry into spreadsheets to try and make sense of the data
- Parents are often unsatisfied with the justification for the placement decision of their kids and very seldom receive information to help understand what their child needs to work on and develop
It all comes down to information. A coach’s time is already spread so thin that they rarely have the time to reformat results from a spreadsheet. Let alone in a digestible “form” consumable for each athlete. Consequently, athletes and their parents often lack a clear understanding of the reasons WHY they didn’t secure a spot on the top team.
Technology today can solve all that. Having the evaluators gather information through a sports apps like SkillShark, streamlines the entire process, allowing the athlete to receive their performance report before they even have their cleats off. With Skillshark, a coach can view evaluation results instantly, instead of doing days of data entry to calculate and track scores. Lastly, parents can clearly indicate what their child needs to work on to be considered for next year’s top team.
What Are The Biggest Steps to Ensure a Smooth Evaluation Process?
As coaches, we know the importance of planning out everything we do, and a good evaluation is no different. The key things every organization should know well in advance of an evaluation are:
Assigning player numbers
The three most common methods for assigning athletes a number so they can be easily identifiable to evaluators are:
- Pre-assign numbers (e.g. 1-100) and have that athlete come prepared with that number pinned to a shirt or written on their leg. Using hockey tape to create numbers usually does not work well as the tape falls off, leaving no way to identify them. The slightest bit of rain can make any papers pinned to their shirt become fragile and tear off.
- Hand out uni-size numbered bibs preassigned to kids
- Handing out unique-sized bib/numbers upon arrival at the event. This requires a registration station where someone records the number/color of the bib provided and records that on the website.
Simplify the check-in process
Think about how many people you need working the desk and whether you need power cords to power laptops or charging stations.
Determine station timing
Make sure to understand how much time each evaluator will have to measure each athlete when the drill is being performed. You need to know how many stations will be required and if you have enough space. You might need to split into multiple sessions if you aren’t able to run them all at once.
Player Evaluation FAQ
1. Do I have enough people/equipment to run the drills at each station?
Now, with technology like SkillShark, having more evaluators doesn’t mean increased data entry into spreadsheets. You can save a huge amount of time, and have as many helpers as you like. You also have instant access to your player data once the evaluation is complete.
2. How many evaluators will I have at each station?
If measuring objective data (i.e. pitch velocities, 60Yd Dash, etc) you may only need one evaluator, but if measuring subjective data on athletes, you’ll want to have more than 1 set of eyes.
3. How much time will the evaluators require to accurately measure (performance, number of metrics, time of each drill)?
It’s important to understand that each added metric will require more allotted time and that measuring performance may take a more detailed approach. However you decide to build your evaluation, just be aware of the time each drill will take. With the method that I plan to run each drill, will the evaluators have enough time to record a score and then see the next athlete fully? People running the drills should communicate with the evaluators to get the right cadence.
4. Is there a reliable network connection at the location of the event?
This determines whether you’ll need to download the app ahead of time, sync before they leave the house, gather data, and then sync data to the SkillShark website when they get home or near a cell tower. Knowing this will also help you understand how to handle the registration process or walk-ups.
The traditional evaluation process is riddled with problems when using pen/paper, so why not let SkillShark remove ALL those problems?
The second the player evaluation is done, rather than spending 50+ hours doing data entry in Excel only to be left with nothing that can be then sent to each athlete as a report card, coaches and organizers can now start sorting kids into teams.
Users can generate different types of reports:
SkillShark’s Individual Reports
SkillShark’s Weighted Reports
Assign a designated weight to the softball metrics that are most essential to the position you are looking to draft (weight must add to 100%). For example, if you wanted to identify your “Top Catcher,” assign a designated weight to each metric under the skill hitting. Once the weighted report is run, it will indicate which players are best suited for the Top Catcher.
If you have one spot on the top team and are trying to decide which player makes the cut, you can compare multiple players against each other across a variety of skills.
Player Progress Tracking
You can track player development over time on objective measurements to show the athlete the results of all the extra effort they’ve put into their development within the sports teams app.
What Is the Biggest Issue With Pen-And-Paper Sports Evaluations
The biggest issue with pen-and-paper sports evaluations is evaluator bias. This occurs when an evaluator intentionally gives higher or lower scores. The evaluator may be a family member, friend, or acquaintance of the athlete; therefore, a higher score is awarded to that athlete because of the pre-determined relationship.
Here’s a situation of evaluator bias:
We have Bob and Tim, who are both evaluators at a soccer tryout. Tim is that “nice guy” who doesn’t want any conflicts with their parents and doesn’t want to hurt a young kid’s feelings, so when measuring subjective scores from 0-10, Tim tends to stay on the high side, giving a low score in the group of 7 and a high score of 9 from all 8 athletes.
Bob is more forward and “calls it like he sees it.” If he thinks a kid performs poorly then he will give a score as low as a ‘1’ whereas if a kid does well, he will give a high score of a ‘7’.
99.9% of the youth sports organizations, if using pen/paper/spreadsheets, will take the numbers from both evaluators, average them then rank the kids from best to worst. (See Diagram 1 below)
Unfortunately, in the end, Bob has a much greater effect on a kid’s outcome than Tim because he used a larger range of scores. Let’s take a look at Player 8. Bob thinks Player 8 is one of the worst, and Tim thinks Player 8 is one of the best, but because of Bob’s larger effect on the average, Player 8 has a ranking near the bottom.
SkillShark solves this unconscious evaluator bias by a process called data normalization. SkillShark will take the lowest and highest scores for every metric from each evaluator and average them out.
See Diagram 2.
By doing this, we actually can determine a much more accurate ranking of the 8 athletes. Look at Player 3, who was considered the 3rd ranked player when using pen-and-paper method, but should have been identified as #5 in the group.
Solving this biggest problem with pen-and-paper evaluations will remove many of the situations where athletes get assigned to teams they should not be on. The larger the number of athletes in the group in this situation, then statistically, the higher number of athletes will be ranked incorrectly.
Going through trial runs of evaluations and visualizing how things will run the day of the event in advance will solve many of your stressful issues during evaluations. The trend of all sports is definitely leaning towards increasing communication from the sports organization to the athletes/parents so utilizing tools like SkillShark allows your organization to have data transparency and save 50+ hours per event on average.
SkillShark is currently the leading evaluation software on the market and at the forefront of changing the evaluation landscape for sports organizations globally.
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SkillShark is easy to understand, easy to check in players and has a very simple user friendly interface.
PA Minor Hockey- Evaluator
In the past our evaluations were done with a pad and paper and there were always many errors. We spent so much time on evaluations we would work sometime until midnight. With SkillShark we reduced our overtime and it paid for itself in the first evaluation.
Lloydminster Hockey Association
SkillShark has been an invaluable tool for our High-Performance tryouts. We have used it with nearly 400 athletes and it has been a great addition to our participants and parents, who now receive a college coaches evaluation after each tryout. We will be SkillShark users for life. Thanks SkillShark for bringing our tryout evaluations from the stone age to the digital age!
High Performance Director (Delta Region of USA Volleyball), Head Volleyball Coach (Belhaven University)