Geoff Miller

Case Study: Paralysis by Analysis

In Case Studies using TAIS on January 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

From time to time, I will be posting case studies that include sample data from our TAIS inventory.  TAIS stands for The Attentional and Interpersonal Style inventory and we use it with all of our coaching clients in corporate, sport, and military settings.  In my work with professional baseball players and teams, I use TAIS to help players in the majors and minors identify their mental game strengths and weaknesses, then use TAIS data to help them shape performance improvement plans.  On the scouting side, I use TAIS to evaluate potential draft picks, which are not used in a “thumbs up, thumbs down” fashion, but more to help provide another level of detail on who the player is on and off the field, how he will handle failure and pressure, and the best ways to help each player develop skills and learn the game.

This case study is on a pitcher who thinks too much when he gets into jams and makes things more complicated for himself.  I’m including only a sampling of TAIS scales (there are twenty factors that are measured when someone takes TAIS and a brief description on each so you can understand the context of the case.  Learning a bit about this player may help you if you have players like the one I’m profiling here.

Case Study:  C
Position:  Right-Handed Pitcher
Biggest Derailer:  Paralysis by Analysis
Comparison Group: World Champions

Favorite Channel

The first factors I look at when reviewing a TAIS profile are the attentional factors.  I want to know what the player’s “favorite channel” is so I can know how he will pay attention under pressure.  Player C’s favorite channel between Awareness, Analysis, and Narrow Focus (which we call Action) is Analysis.  This tells me that Player C is someone who figures things out.  He is most comfortable when he is out-thinking his opponents and probably does a great job game-planning before a start, knowing exactly how is going to set up and finish off each hitter in the line up.  He is above average at staying focused and blocking out distractions and he has an average feel for the game and gut instinct.  But when he feels pressure, his thought process gets going and he has trouble sticking to a simple plan.  In the big picture, this pitcher should be very successful, but in the moment, he will find himself thinking too much instead of just going after hitters.

Confidence and Self-Criticism

The next score that really jumps out at me is Player C’s confidence score.  He has rated himself as more confident than 99% of other World Class athletes, but unlike the typical over-confident athlete, he hasn’t exaggerated his abilities and his other scores aren’t all that extreme.  As another indicator that Player C is confident and well-adjusted, I notice that his Self-Criticism score is 7%.  That’s a very low score and it tells me that Player C is resilient and doesn’t let negative performance get to him very often.  But the score is high enough to tell me that he is thinking about ways that he can improve as a pitcher.  He is willing to evaluate his performance.  I like this profile as a case study because it shows how connections can be made using TAIS scores to understand players from a number of different perspectives.  Player C’s confidence and self-criticism tell me that evaluation is important to him, which is another place that his analytical nature creeps in.  Which brings me to learning style…

Learning Style

Continuing on our theme of an athlete who engages in too much thinking, we see that Player C’s Information Processing score is 85%, which is higher than most top draft picks.  This player wants to multitask, he likes to have a lot of information and enjoys having a lot going on in his world.  He gets bored easily and will need to have some variety in his routines and practice plans.

For Decision Making Style, Player C scores 3%.  Remember that Decision Making Style tells how quickly a person commits to a decision, with low scores being quick to commit and high scores needing more time to come to a decision.  Player C makes up his mind quickly and doesn’t second-guess his decisions.  He picks up on things faster than others might and he doesn’t worry about the details.  This is a fast learning, information-seeking player who can be challenged intellectually, but needs to learn some patience and pay better attention to detail.

Summary

Player C’s profile looks like that of the classic smart athlete.  While most elite athletes pay attention in a narrow-focused style under pressure, Player C prefers to think himself out of a jam.  This style is a mismatch in athletic settings and while it’s not alarming in a “flagging” kind of way, it is still much more rare that athletes with analytical styles will maximize their physical talents because of the “paralysis by analysis” effect.  This player’s strengths are big-picture thinking, a strong learning capacity, and the ability to take information and quickly translate it into on-field behaviors. He is confident, social, eloquent, optimistic, and has just enough constructive criticism of himself to push himself to be great.  He’s focused, has a strong work ethic, and average awareness of himself.  Player C’s biggest challenges will be quieting his mind and being patient enough to see some results of his hard work before starting over and figuring out a new plan. He’s so quick to make up his mind that he needs a fast-paced, constantly challenging environment.  He may overcomplicate his life and his pitching just so he has more things to figure out and keep multi-tasked.  And he might speed up the game just to match his processing speed only to find that he can’t slow it down again.

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Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, will be released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:

http://www.bytelevelbooks.com/books/intangibles.html

For more information on using TAIS with your players, please contact Geoff Miller at miller@thewinningmind.com.

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