CARVER Coaching & Performance Newsletter

Hi, Paul here,


I hope this finds you well. This week’s topic is:

The Challenge Point Framework

A few bits to start:

The Challenge Point Framework

As coaches, we are perpetually in pursuit of ways to improve our performers by imposing a challenge which promotes optimal learning. Striking this balance is like walking a tightrope; too much difficulty can lead to demotivation and anxiety, while too little challenge results in stagnation and boredom. This delicate equilibrium, referred to as the “Challenge Point Framework” (Guadagnoli & Lee, 2004), is where learning thrives🚀


The Challenge Point Framework emphasises that a challenge which causes a brief and minor-to-moderate drop in performance facilitates learning best.


This concept takes into account three critical components:


  • Task difficulty

  • The presence and level of support.

  • The skill level of the performer.

When challenge and support align harmoniously with the athlete’s or team’s abilities, the environment becomes a fertile ground for growth and learning.

Applying this framework requires the coach to consider the following:


  1. Assessment of Abilities: Thoroughly evaluate the performer’s current skill level, knowledge, and capabilities. This assessment lays the foundation for identifying the appropriate level of challenge. Measuring key performance indicators may be useful here.

  2. Setting Clear Goals: Define the specific skills the performer needs to acquire or improve. Clear objectives prime the performer’s focus on these aspects of their training. Involving the athlete in this processes enhances motivation to attain the desired improvements.

  3. Task Difficulty Adjustment: Tailor the tasks difficulty to the performer’s abilities. This may involve increasing complexity, modifying demands, and varying feedback to encourage self-assessment and reflection.

  4. Continuous Monitoring: Continually track progress using key performance indicators or targets linked to skill performance. Once mastery is evident, it’s time to incrementally raise the level of challenge.

  5. Regular Reflection and Adaptation: Reflect periodically on the effectiveness of the challenge point. Identify that sweet spot where performance is slightly inhibited by the task and environmental constraints, maintaining an optimal balance between success and challenge.

While it may be difficult for some to accept that task inefficiency or technical breakdown should be encouraged, especially in high-performance environments, this framework challenges the traditional view of elite learning environments as “perfection” It instead advocates stepping out of one’s comfort zones to cultivate opportunities for growth. It is here true development and learning occurs, helping athletes thrive in their training environments. In summary, elite learning environments are where the correct challenge point lives💯

CARVER Insight

I received this picture from a friend during the week📷

Apparently Be the Best You Can Be in Sport- A Book for Irish Youth is going well in Tokyo. That book is 3 years old this week and continues to thrive. It had crossed my mind last week as to when would be the right time to do an updated version of it, and I was thinking maybe the 5 or 10-year anniversary… or indeed maybe any point in between.


I never get too attached to my own work but I do think this book is special. Most of my work comes from personal need, and at the time of writing I was coaching teenagers. We were on a massive learning journey and I was continually searching for appropriate material that would educate and inspire my crew✏️


I saw a huge need for something comprehensive and detailed, yet readable and digestible. The result was a book with input from over 50 respected coaches and sportstars, coaching academics and sports science professionals. The chapter break down shows just how comprehensive the book is…


Ch 1 The Virtues of Sport

Ch 2 Journaling the Journey

Ch 3 Values and Character

Ch 4 Mindset for Learning

Ch 5 Individual Practice

Ch 6 Application in Training

Ch 7 Performance Analysis

Ch 8 Being a Teammate

Ch 9 Understanding and Communicating with Your Coach

Ch 10 Playing Fair and Communicating with the Referee

Ch 11 Preparing to Perform

Ch 12 Setbacks

Ch 13 Talent Pathways & Professional Sport

Ch 14 Excellence and Commitment

Ch 15 The Maturing Body

Ch 16 Movement Efficiency

Ch 17 The Individual Nature of Strength Training

Ch 18 Sport Specific Speed

Ch 19 Injury and Rehabilitation

Ch 20 Nutrition

Ch 21 Time and Energy Management

Ch 22 Multi Sport Activity

Ch 23 The Student Athlete

Ch 24 Racism in Sport

Ch 25 Women in Sport

Ch 26 Simply Be

Ch 27 Tough Times

Ch 28 The Obstacle is the Way

Ch 29 The End is the Beginning


I got great satisfaction pulling the thoughts and ideas of so many smart people into a book that could really help young athletes. It will be some time before I go ‘back into the cave’ to produce version 2 but there is no need for that just yet, as this book is still alive and kicking and has much left to give. Many people tell me it is a book they read and reread on a continual basis. I hope many young people will receive this book for Christmas… so it can keep on giving.


Bye for now,



Copyright Paul Kilgannon 2021
Website by Grafton Digital.