Receiving feedback is crucial in every aspect of life. Whether you are just starting a new job or working on that mid-range jump-shot, you are building skill-sets that will allow you to improve and achieve your goals.
All athletes crave feedback from their coaches, teammates, and parents to significantly impact their performance. Coaches are able to observe players in a sport environment and acknowledge specific skills that need to be improved which may not be evident to the athlete. Wiggins (2012) suggested that teaching less and providing more feedback will lead to a greater learning curve for the athlete.
There are two specific types of feedback that are involved in the sport development process.
- Intrinsic (Internal) Feedback
- Received during the execution of the skill and is used for more advanced athletes that have developed a good sense of the mechanics involved in the sport
- Sometimes athletes are able to improve with little or no feedback from their coach – coaches must be able to trust their athletes to not only make corrections by themselves but also drive their self-motivation within the sport
- The ability for the athlete to adjust their performance based off of previous/past experiences
- Ex. Shooting a free throw – athlete knows where and how to improve based on the feel and techniques of the shot
- Extrinsic (External) Feedback
- Received from outside sources other than the athlete — ex. coaches, crowd engagement, parents, etc.
- More geared towards beginner athletes who have not yet developed a sense of the sport and may require more “teaching moments” from their coaches
- Able to contribute to intrinsic feedback as the athlete becomes more familiar with the movements of the sport and have the ability to make the necessary corrections
- Ex. Shooting a free throw – the assistance of a coach to show the athlete how to properly shoot a free throw using various techniques
- Once the athlete is able to do this proficiently, they are able to rely on intrinsic feedback more effectively
Coaches engage with athletes when providing extrinsic feedback and the following factors should be considered.
When to give feedback
Providing feedback is necessary when the athlete is unable to figure it out on their own. Athletes should be given the opportunity to develop their skills in an independent manner and engage in their own problem-solving techniques. Feedback is required when first learning a new skill, but after that the athlete may be able to correct behaviors on their own. With younger ages, this may be required more often as they are just learning the sport. However, providing too much feedback may irritate the athlete, so the coach can engage in a discussion asking what they can do to improve the specific technique.
How much feedback to give
Frequent feedback isn’t always a good thing! Athletes may become dependent on the feedback from the coach and may not learn how to correct the behavior sufficiently on their own. Coaches providing moment-to-moment feedback after each stage of learning does not allow the athlete to learn the relationship between what they are doing and the produced result. Although the performance may be improving, the athlete may not know why this is happening.
Quantity and Quality of Feedback
The quality of the feedback is more important than the quantity. Coaches must make sure that they time the message appropriately and ensure it is positive, short and to the point.
How Detailed is the Feedback?
Especially for the younger age group or athletes just introduced to the sport, coaches should try to provide just the general information of how to improve the movement or skill set. As the skill level improves, coaches are able to become more detailed in their feedback to the athlete.
Providing feedback to the athlete, no matter the skill level or age group, is an essential part in the sport development process.
For any additional information on the topic, check out the link listed below to learn more information about the factors involved in providing feedback to your players and more ideas of how important coach feedback is to the team.
What do you think? Please feel free to provide your experiences, comments, and feedback regarding this post.
Chery Bennett is the Domestic Development Intern at Canada Basketball. She is currently pursuing her Graduate Certificate in Sport Business Management at Humber College, and has a passion for basketball and a former athlete within the sport.