4 Problem Solving Techniques Athletes Learn From Your Practices

We are a company full of problem solvers. It’s our goal to help minimize issues coaches have when it comes to apparel and gear for their team. We got to thinking about problem solving and how that relates back to our customers, and we realized athletes learn just as much about problem solving as we do. When and where? At practice every day.

Because of this realization, we wanted to shed some light on how exactly athletes may be learning problem solving techniques at practice that you don't even realize. This presents an opportunity for coaches to encourage students to be aware of this and figure out how to implement a lesson about problem solving into practices. Take a look at the 4 problem solving techniques we’re sharing.

  1. Thinking instead of reacting
    A tough game can be fun for an athlete, but they might stray from considering the best plan of attack because they’re reacting instead of thinking it through. Sometimes an adrenaline rush and immediate reaction is what wins the game, but other times not thinking it through could result in poor judgement or play. This can lead to a loss or even injury. Practice offers the chance for coaches to remind their athletes to think through the most appropriate moves in high intensity moments. When a play doesn’t go as planned, the athlete must change their route in the blink of an eye. This requires acute attention to detail and practice considering not only a “plan A,” but a “plan B” and “C” as well. Help your athletes practice taking a moment to think, so they aren’t trapped and helpless when a play doesn’t go as planned.

  2. Trusting repetition
    Remember that old saying “practice makes perfect?” It’s critical when it comes to getting superior results. Athletes start to ask themselves how they can make certain movements perfectly. Through repetition they begin to understand the details required to get through a movement both efficiently and beautifully. Encourage your athletes to treat practice as if they’re working on their master craft. Remind them that they should take great pride in reaching superiority in the details of their skills. Repetition makes perfect over time, so help your athletes to dive deeper into the details and practice more often.

  3. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable
    Only when you push your boundaries and consider new ways to do what we already do are we able to become better. We are uncomfortable when problems arise, and you must learn to work in this uncomfortable state. Practices can offer the chance for athletes to test how they react in situations they are uncomfortable in. They can get used to being uncomfortable here though. Coaches can use a unique drill they’ve never done before, encourage them to work with someone they usually wouldn’t, or changing up the time of day practice takes place. All it takes is a change in dynamic of the practice environment to throw athletes off enough to feel out of their element. In the long run, these athletes will be better able to adapt and problem solve in the moment because they are familiar and okay with being uncomfortable.

  4. Considering others’ opinions
    It’s easy for athletes to have a mindset that they’re doing everything better than others. This is natural due to the competitive nature of athletics. Instead, athletes should be inspired by others’ techniques and ideas to build on their skills. A teammate could know a better way to position their hips, or how to properly get out of a certain position. Athletes should take others’ advice and be open to their expertise. They may find solutions to the kinks in techniques they couldn’t roll out themselves.

We need these problem-solving techniques for playing a sport and acting as a great scholar and citizen. Thinking instead of reacting, trusting repetition, being uncomfortable, and considering others’ onions are all “skills” that when combined create a well-rounded and well-equipped student. Ares Sportswear believes athletics are a privilege that complement academics. They teach students how to develop the character they need to thrive academically and socially. Creating problem solvers on and off the field is the best way to prepare students for anything that may come their way.