How Coaches Can Best Apply Feedback

Athletes' skills improve overall with some simple methods

How Coaches Can Best Apply Feedback

In previous issues of Coaching Concepts, I have advocated that the quality, rather than the quantity, of feedback is most important when instructing bowlers. Last time I provided a method where coaches can get athletes involved in the decision making process by using self-selected feedback.

In this issue, I continue this discussion on reducing feedback focusing on techniques (i.e., summary or average feedback method) that coaches can use to determine when feedback should be given, without the bowler’s input, in order to be more effective in their coaching method and improve the learning and retention of their instruction.

The bottom line is that providing feedback on all shots may not be the most effective method of feedback and coaches should find more ways of coaching effectively without providing excessive feedback.

Summary feedback

Summary feedback is a way to tell athletes how they performed on several practice attempts without the repetition of providing feedback after every single shot. Giving the feedback after a certain number of shots, rather than after every shot, allows for the same quality of information with less frequency.

In the 2012 Coaches Concepts articles in BTM, where I interviewed expert bowling coaches about their feedback use, some already used the summary feedback technique. For example, when discussing how often he provides feedback to bowlers, Steve Fuhrman suggested “I don’t provide feedback on every shot. I like to have students take three shots and then discuss.… So, by waiting for three shots, there’s opportunity for enough variety to use as basis for conversation and additional feedback.” Steve uses the previous three shots as a basis for discussion around the good and bad parts of the shot attempt. He provides feedback and allows discussion to develop so that lines of communication continue to develop, which helps build rapport.

There have been a few studies that have provided favorable results for summary feedback, but I focus first on an article by Schmidt, Young, Swinnen, and Shapiro (1989). As always, I will explain the experiment and results in bowling ...

Chris Mesagno

About Chris Mesagno

Dr. Chris Mesagno is a senior lecturer in Exercise and Sport Psychology at Federation University Australia and received his Ph.D. from Victoria University (Australia), specializing in Sport Psychology and Motor Learning. Dr. Chris is a competitive bowler of 30 years, he was a member and assistant coach of the University of Florida bowling team from 1998-2001, and he is both a Tenpin Bowling Australia Level 1 Certified Coach and a USBC Bronze Level Coach.