Coach Feedback – How important is it?
Feedback is the breakfast of champions
– Ken Blanchard
The coach-athlete relationship is probably the most important relationship in sport. The knowledge possessed by the coach can be classed as the “tools” needed for the athlete to achieve success. How this knowledge is transferred to the athlete can determine the level of success. Feedback is without doubt one of the most effective methods in passing on this knowledge. All athletes crave feedback, this is where they can make the necessary changes to improve their performance.
Feedback is a critical component of coaching
There is extensive research in the area of feedback in sport that is of tremendous practical value to coaches. From a very basic point of view, coaches can see their athletes in action and may see areas that need improving that are not apparent to the athletes. Feedback and communication in general are critical components to coaching. Feedback allows coaches to tell athletes how they are performing in relation to their expectations. Coaches can then instruct and teach their athletes how to reach these expectations and perform better (Hillman, Schwandt & Bartz, 1990). Thus, feedback and coaching are interdependent but not the same.
The theoretical framework behind feedback
The theoretical framework behind the idea of feedback in sport is well documented. Numerous researchers have all supported the idea of using feedback in sport. It has been concluded that feedback can provide extra incentives for athletes due to its positive influence on competence satisfaction and autonomous motivation. Successful coaching depends on your feedback to motivate, challenge, direct and support players on the quest to improve their skills, and ultimately improve overall performance of the individual or the team.
The type of feedback and the way that it is conveyed to the athletes is also quite important. For example, “angry” coaches who attempt to get their message across in an irritated manner may be causing more harm than good. Researchers and sport psychologists have found that athletes respond poorly to negative feedback. The line between physical and psychological is blurrier than you might think. Thanks to the influence of hormones like testosterone, getting your motivation and mental state right can give you a powerful physical boost – but getting it wrong, (like a coach going “on a mad one”) can hobble you. The length of the message of feedback has an effect on performance – Researchers believe that giving specific, short and positive feedback is more likely to boost performance positively. They go on to say that up to 50% of the feedback should be instructional. It has also been concluded that feedback should be given as soon as possible after the specific event, and in a sincere manner.
Coaching environment and Feedback
Coaches are not the only instrument of feedback, the environment is also critical. The coach is often the one setting up this environment. Creating and using activities, drills, and games that are intrinsic in nature is important. Good learning experiences can give feedback. Many activities tell the athlete if they are meeting expectations without the use of excessive praise or berating. These activities require the athlete to think, involve their teammates, and desire feedback. The environment is important in that failure is not desirable but that it is safe to strive for success. If failure occurs athletes can learn from their failures (Tate, personal communication, June 17, 2009). Indeed, there is a school of thought that says some athletes pick up a lot of information from other athletes receiving feedback – almost like an “involuntary learning”. One of the best ways athletes learn is by watching others receive individual feedback (Mononen et al., 2003), when an athlete observes a peer being individually instructed and then receives individual instruction there are two opportunities for learning.
Importance of Feedback in Monitoring
It is clear that feedback is an exceptional tool for coaches to use with their athletes. It builds upon the importance of the coach-athlete relationship, and enhances the coaches’ reputation as an “educator”. Having the ability to record and monitor player’s actions is a huge benefit to any coach in relation to feedback. Recent research entitled Training-Monitoring Engagement: An Evidence-Based Approach in Elite Sport [Emma C. Neupert, Stewart T. Cotterill, Simon A. Jobson] highlights the importance of feedback when implementing an athlete monitoring system. Thematic analysis showed that athletes reported their main reason for poor buy-in to training monitoring systems was a lack of feedback on their monitoring data from key staff.
Our athlete monitoring platform Metrifit provides the facility for feedback in a number of different ways helping the coach to provide insightful feedback in a timely and effective manner.
Monitoring with Metrifit?
It is impossible to measure what you can’t see, and some athletes are exceptionally good at hiding how they really feel. Looking at the ‘small picture’ of an athlete’s daily habits, shapes the ‘big picture’ of match day performance. Metrifit provides a simple and effective method for athletes to record their mood as part of its athlete monitoring package. Metrifit’s daily traffic light report will indicate what issues athletes are having and who warrants a follow up. The analytics provided by Metrifit will also look for deviation from normal patterns at the individual level across many variables including mood state and stress.
Metrifit’s approach not only covers the physical requirements of a particular sport but also helps the coach derive the benefits of other factors that have a significant influence on an athlete’s well-being: training, body, nutrition, mind, and sleep. In this short video, we explain how Metrifit works for both the athlete and the coach.
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