Using a grading system for practice and competition is common for many sports. Grading helps coaches determine where an athlete sits on the depth chart or how an athlete has adapted to game play over the course of time. A common way for coaches to grade performance is by measuring specific variables over the course of practice or game. For instance, a Basketball coach may look at a player’s plus-minus to determine the grade they deserve on a game to game basis. If that given grade falls below the desired metric, a player may move down the depth chart or lose time on the court.
The same concept can be used to help develop a better psychological mindset for athletes during the training process. The only difference is the athlete grades themselves!
By having the athlete critically review and grade themselves, they can develop two key qualities that help promote more buy in. The first quality is building a better "mind-body" connection. A mind-body connection involves effectively taking in information or cues. In other words, when a coach tells an athlete to fix their back position in a squat, they can easily make the adjustment due to a good mind-body connection. If an athlete has a poor mind-body connection and cannot adjust, they’ll typically become frustrated and grade themselves on the lower end. As time goes, hopefully the mind-body connection improves and the athlete can see progress in how they grade themselves. This also works in conjunction with recovery. Every time an athlete has poor recovery, regardless of how well they did in a training session, they will grade themselves lower solely due to how poor they felt (It works hand in hand with session RPE!). If a coach is smart, they will be giving recovery advice on a regular basis, which will in turn help the athlete feel better from session to session and ultimately lead to more program buy in.