By Bo Hanson

In this 5 Minute with Bo Hanson, Bo talks about recognizing the difference between a Momentary Adaptation and a Sustained Adaptation and how the two effect an athletes’ ability to perform at their best.

Every athlete has a way of doing things that just feels right. A way they like to shoot, or move, or run. Like writing with your dominant hand, it’s not uncomfortable or forced. That’s what a natural profile is, it’s the way you prefer to do things.

What we have found in more than 10 years of working with Coaches and teams is that there is a strong link between an athletes’ performance being at a high level if they are able to perform and behave according to their natural style, rather than needed to continually make significant adaptations.

An adaptation is a behavior we adjust based on the environment we are in. And there are two main types of adaptations we make – Momentary and Sustained. Maybe we need to interact with a team member who has a different DISC Profile to us, or we need to adapt to make a certain play. These types of adaptations are Momentary Adaptations and they are necessary to benefit us and our team. A good way to describe this would be if we took a rubber band for example. If we stretched that rubber band for a few seconds then let it snap back, this would describe a Momentary Adaptation. Just like an athlete would return to their preferred way of performing after they have adapted their behavior to suit the play.

A Sustained Adaptation would be the equivalent of holding a rubber band out in a stretched position for a long period of time. The rubber band would be put under a lot of stress and eventually, it would give in and snap. An athlete is no different. The sustained stress caused by staying in an unnatural state for a long time is significant enough to be detrimental to the athlete’s performance, and their life.

If we were to look at a real-life example of this, a Coach we worked with had a player join their basketball team who had a preferred (natural) way of shooting. The player liked to stand and shoot, but the Coach wanted them to drive in and complete a layup. When the player had been shooting one way their whole life, then was asked to change that very quickly, it put significant stress on them and the results simply weren’t there.

It also doesn’t matter if it’s a technical skill, like shooting, or a non-technical skill, like being the person on the team who motivated others, if it is not the natural way an athlete behaves, then they are not going to be as successful as they could be. We as Coaches need to be aware of this and how we can assist our players to make better momentary adaptations to suit the environment, rather than asking them to behave in a way that creates a sustained adaptation and subsequently, sustained stress.


At Athlete Assessments, we’re experts in the people side of sport. We know sport and live high performance every day. Our reputation and proven success at the elite level speaks for itself. The results that our National, Olympic, Professional and Collegiate team clients achieve directly reflects their focus on getting the people side right.

Athlete Assessments’ Team Programs have been specifically designed to maximize the people side of your team.

  • Winning Back to Back ChampionshipsAchieve improved performance with better communication, relationship and conflict strategies
  • Get a ‘blue-print’ on how to coach to your athletes’ specific needs
  • Know with confidence how to develop strong team chemistry
  • Team Programs include DISC Profiles, detailed Coach’s Resources & Consultations
  • Work with a 4x Olympian with over 20 years in Coach Development & Leadership Training
  • Guaranteed to deliver improved performance and results

Looking to catch up?
You can watch all videos in the 5 Minutes with Bo Hanson series.

At Athlete Assessments we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and to help you be your best. If there is anything we can do to be of service, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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