In the problem solving process, there are three basic components to consider. They include documenting the problem, providing a solution or solutions, and providing an evaluation. These steps are the foundation for my strength and conditioning programs. In this article, I will discuss each step in the problem solving process and how it can be used in your programs.
Document the Problem
This is the first step in the problem solving process. It is the part of the process where the problem is stated. Before documenting the problem, proper research must be done to first see if there is a problem and if so, determine exactly what it is.
There are many ways available to determine if there is a problem. For my strength and conditioning program, I use performance tests, physical requirements of that sport, frequent injury sites, and administration variables. For our next step, we must determine if we have enough information. If not, where do we look? This now sends us to the next step in the problem solving process.
This next step in the problem solving process is without a doubt the most important in the process. For it is in this part where we come up with possible solutions to help alleviate the problem you’re facing. Once a list of possible solutions is determined, you must then determine which solutions are most practical and can be implemented. We must also examine past, current, and future solutions to decide which ones are most appropriate for our needs.
These solutions can usually be broken down into specific categories (realistic, short-term, and long-term solutions). You must then decide which solution or solutions are not only realistic, but are feasible given a time frame and resources needed to solve the problem. After a course of action is taken to solve the problem, we then move to the last part of the process.
Provide an Evaluation
In this part of the problem solving process, we must critique the procedures and techniques used to determine if they were the most appropriate and feasible; and if we accomplished the goals set forth when we first started.
I now plan to show you how this problem solving process can be applied to a strength and conditioning coach in their everyday job. One of the typical job descriptions of a strength and conditioning coach would be to evaluate a problem of a particular athlete or group of athletes and design programs (solutions) to solve the problem, and then later evaluate that problem to see if any changes were made.
Document the Problem
You have a group of football players and you want to improve their physical conditioning level so that they can perform better in that sport. First, researching the problem would be the best to determine where these athletes presently stand in terms of their physical readiness. This would be done through a series of tests. Listed below are the areas we will test to research the problem.
- Muscular strength and endurance
- Speed and agility
- Body composition
- Anaerobic and aerobic power
Once the athletes evaluation is done, it is now time to analyze the information to determine which areas need improvement and what steps must be done to solve the problem.
Regardless of the particular problems or weaknesses discovered in your evaluation, the scientific principles of strength and conditioning must always apply. This will ensure the programs are individualized and progressive, so the athletes are gradually solving the problem and reducing the risks of overtraining and injury. After the program or solution is implemented, only time will tell if the program is working. To do that, we move on to the third step of the problem solving process.
Provide an Evaluation
Evaluation of athletes for strength and conditioning coaches would be very easy. First, a certain time frame must be given. For example, evaluate all athletes at the beginning of the winter and reevaluate them again at the end of spring to check their progress.
The evaluation would be to simply retest the athlete again on the same procedures as performed the first time. This would give you something to compare their results to. After this is completed, a determination of your programs effectiveness can be decided. The evaluation process is ongoing several times a year looking for improvements in performance criteria that should transfer onto the playing field.
It is important that we as strength and conditioning professionals understand the problem solving process and its many applications to the many duties we perform on a regular basis. Whether it be testing your athletes for improvement in the bench press or the effectiveness of your program, the problem solving principles always remain constant.