Econ 101: Applying the Most Valuable Practitioner Skill

Scott Littlefield MS, CN, CISSN

The ability to prioritize is one of the most important skills to develop as a performance specialist. You don’t last in private practice or stand out in team settings without it. Why? Because success comes from the ability to be confronted with a barrage of obstacles and effectively determine which ones to tackle in what order to yield the greatest results: whether it’s a single athlete or a couple hundred, the magnitude of results and time it takes to achieve them determine success.

If an athlete is missing carbohydrate needs by 2g/kg, is it a priority to get them to choose brown rice or whole wheat bread over white? If athletes don't easily understand what sufficient energy intake looks like for their goals, is it a priority to tell them to consume sufficient energy to avoid low energy availability and RED-S?

Opportunity cost (for those who didn’t take an introductory econ class) is the benefit you miss out on when you make one choice over another. “Because by definition they are unseen, opportunity costs can be easily overlooked if one is not careful. Understanding the potential missed opportunities foregone by choosing one investment over another allows for better decision-making.” (Investopedia)

Every intervention - educating on nutrient timing, food selection, plate modeling, vegetable intake, or presenting to a group, posting on social media, ordering food, or designing a menu - is time and energy and money you could invest somewhere else. So, it’s important to ask, is this the most valuable choice I can be making right now for my athletes? What results am I giving up by doing this and not doing something else?

These kinds of questions can be uncomfortable as they challenge your normal routine and may be difficult to answer without precise understandings of athlete intakes and goals, but they are among the most important. They will help you identify discrepancies between your tasks and priorities (consider your mission), enabling you to redistribute your resources to maximize athlete results. And they will empower you to better communicate, delegate, and gain support, as you will be able to clearly articulate both the value of what you are currently doing and the results you could be achieving.

Fuelogics helps you prioritize resources to maximize results... with some round(er) wheels ;)

Scott Littlefield MS, CN, CISSN

Scott co-owns a private practice - ViTL Nutrition - where he works one-on-one with athletes as well as with programs from high school to professional levels across the country. He is a founding member of Fuelogics. These days you'll likely find him testing the boundaries of strength, size, and the mile-run or the limits of human taco consumption.

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