Coaching Feedback: Are We Talking Too Much?

A word from APA owner, Daz Drake.

This week’s blog comes from APA coach Konrad McKenzie.

Konrad has done a terrific job of summarising his thoughts on feedback and also leaves a few of his own thoughts on how this could relate to youth athletes.  This is a two part blog.  In case you missed his Part 1 you can read it HERE

Part 2- Coaching Feedback: Are We Talking Too Much?

Hi guys,

In part 1 I mentioned the different types of feedback and mentioned some methods to get the most out of our athletes. A few weeks back I took an informative course by ALTIS and one of the topics they discussed was feedback and how we can maximise our efficiency when providing it, I want to share this with you. This week, I want to talk about the different types of feedback, what type of feedback do we give? When do we give our feedback and how do we do it? This week’s blog will look into the following topics:

  • The different forms of feedback
  • Feedback timing and scheduling
  • A constraints based approach
  • Feedback and learning

 

The what: A brief overview of the Different forms of feedback

 

Positive feedback

This is used to reinforce a positive outcome and behaviour. Additionally, it can be used as a motivational tool; as mentioned in the previous blog, building self-efficacy in youth athletes. For example, instead of ‘great squat’ try ‘Great squat! You achieved the appropriate depth with a neutral spine’.

Negative feedback

Although it may be tempted to lump this in with punishment, it is not the same. Negative feedback raises the awareness to the athlete that movement/behaviours do not coincide with goals or key performance indicators. Similar to Positive feedback, prescriptive feedback is more beneficial to the athlete. For example instead of “that was a bad squat” try “next time, let’s work on hitting the agreed depth, with your chest up & out”. ALTIS explains that “this is useful for the cognitive and associative stages of learning where formative programs are being developed and refined”.

Extrinsic feedback

Extrinsic feedback also known as augmented feedback is emerging as one of the most powerful forms of feedback.

It forms into two groups ‘Knowledge of results’ and ‘Knowledge of performance’. Knowledge of results refers to feedback related to performance outcome for example, time and height. Interestingly, Winstein & Schmidt (1990) found that learning a new skill and providing feedback 50% of the time was more effective than providing feedback 100% of the time, the maxim ‘less is more comes to mind here’ also, I am starting to notice that elite level coaches do not waste their words or talk too much.

Knowledge of performance (KOP): This is the one that I find really interesting. KOP refers to feedback toward the quality of the movement/technique or process. This could take many forms such as video review, physical gestures or tapping a part of the body to create awareness. Guided questioning can also support guided discovery, this involves asking the athlete a series of questions to achieve a solution, for example; where should my head be gazing in the squat? Or where does the bar sit when performing a back squat?” Now, the guys at ALTIS do a very good job in explaining guided questioning is useful when trying to develop analytical abilities and independence, by thinking about their response.

Intrinsic feedback

Intrinsic feedback refers to a person’s own sensory-perceptual information as a result of the movement being performed. Intrinsic feedback occurs during the movement itself. Sensory processes include proprioception, touch pressure, and audition. Coaches who have been in the game a long time note the effectiveness of auditory cueing for example clapping, tapping, creating a rhythm to solidify the connection between desired rhythm and execution especially when it is tougher to describe it verbally.

The when: Feedback timing and scheduling

Timing be split into two groups concurrent and terminal. Timing is very important to prevent paralysis by analysis and a repetitive white noise. Timing can also be relevant to the complexity of the task, with more complex tasks benefiting a more terminal approach, to prevent a worsening of the movement.

  • Concurrent feedback occurs during the movement/task itself
  • Terminal feedback is often delivered after the attempt and used with more complex movement puzzles for example in the clean or Squat exercise.

 

When would you use concurrent or terminal feedback?

Some coaches do not agree with using concurrent feedback as they feel it’s a distraction. On the other hand coaches like Nick Winkelmann, suggest that the continuous movement lends itself to repetitive external feedback such as “push, push, push!!” if we are looking at the rhythm and frequency aspect of sprinting. I agree with ALTIS’s view that modes of feedback lie on a spectrum and is dependent on the athlete you are working with. Some athletes work well with concurrent feedback others find this inhibiting.  I also feel that we have to consider the session or exercise type as previously alluded to.

 

A constraints based approach

I used to head the strength and conditioning at a high school and I found that the P.E teachers did this very well. A Constraint places a limit or a restriction on a task this includes spatial or a time constraints. A gym based example would be placing a mini-band around a knee if the athlete is displaying knee valgus.  A sport based Rugby example would include awarding extra points for scoring a try through getting the ball to the wide channel, using the width. The first example will encourage the athlete to push out against the mini-band for optimal knee alignment, whilst the second example will encourage a team to utilise their faster wingers whilst spreading the opposing defence thin.

 

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Feedback and learning

The course at ALTIS did a good job in suggesting that the effectiveness of feedback we provide as coaches can be optimised by matching the stage of learning a performer is in’. They break the stages of learning into 3 stages, the cognitive, associative and finally the autonomous phases of learning. An in depth description of these different stages of learning will fall outside the scope of this blog but I still want to provide you with some information around this, in relation to feedback.

  • Cognitive phase: at this stage mistakes will be frequent. It is important to keep up the positivity but also, to correct the outstanding errors on your KPI hierarchy. This is to limit the information overload and frustration.
  • Associative stage: This level sees an athlete developing their internal feedback loops, cognitive understanding and kinaesthetic control to name a few. At this stage verbal feedback can be used, along with other methods. This stage sees a more prescriptive feedback to facilitate an understanding.
  • Autonomous Stage: This is the final stage of our continuum, here the feedback is minimal and the focus is shifted to refinement of the movement skill. In this part something as subtle as pulling an odd face as a feedback loop may be all that’s warranted to create a behavioural change. By the time an athlete gets into the autonomous stage they will tend to feedback how they are feeling back to you.

My opinion: Are we talking too much?

This is something I am becoming increasingly conscious of, in my coaching. It’s very easy to get wrapped into giving feedback in an essay format, perhaps it is to appear smarter than we are or it’s simply a case of trying to correct too much at once. Or, we have someone overlooking our session and we want to appear as though we are doing our job. But, let’s try and look at it through the eyes of the athlete, we all have a cognitive bandwidth which is essentially a limited mental space, if we provide too much information at once, all the time, it can lead to frustration, low self-esteem and a potential strained relationship between the coach and athlete. In my humble opinion we should look to keep the feedback constructive and effective, using cues that are appropriate to the athlete and their stages of learning. Finally, a question that we could all ask ourselves is “What types of feedback can we use that has maximum impact and subsequent behaviour change?”

Thanks for reading guys,

Konrad McKenzie

Strength and Conditioning coach.

 

Follow Konrad: @konrad_mcken

Follow Daz: @apacoachdaz

 

References

  • Sparrow, W., 1995. Acquisition and retention effects of reduced relative frequency of knowledge of results. Australian Journal of Psychology, 47(2), pp.97-104.
  • Winstein CJ, Schmidt RA. Reduced frequency of knowledge of results enhances motor skill learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 1990;16:677–691.
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Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Qualification

ABOUT THE PROGRAMME

Developed in partnership with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) the 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Strength and Conditioning for Sport (L2CCSCQ) is designed to provide learners aged 16 and over with the level of knowledge needed to build and lead well-constructed strength and conditioning programmes through an understanding of how to plan, conduct and evaluate strength and conditioning sessions. This will enable successful learners to seek employment as a strength and conditioning coach in a number of settings such as a sports club, or with an athlete or team in an educational/youth environment.

The qualification is also excellent continuous professional development (CPD) for exercise and fitness industry professionals via The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) – an ideal way to improve and broaden their skill set.

The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) is a public register that recognises the qualifications and expertise of health-enhancing exercise instructors in the UK. For more information, visit: www.exerciseregister.org.

The 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Strength and Conditioning for Sport (L2CCSCQ) is awarded by 1st4sport Qualifications and has been developed in partnership with the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

 

The 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Strength and Conditioning for Sport (L2CCSCQ) is regulated at Level 2 on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). For further information on the regulated status of the 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Strength and Conditioning for Sport (L2CCSCQ), please log on to The Register of Regulated Qualifications website.

Prerequisites

If you are 16 years of age or above, have an understanding of how to coach and understanding of principles that apply to health and fitness, then the 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Strength and Conditioning for Sport L2CCSCQ) is designed for you.

On successful completion of the 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Strength and Conditioning for Sport L2CCSCQ), you should:

  • understand the fundamentals of coaching sport
  • understand how to develop participants through coaching sport
  • understand how to support participants’ lifestyles through coaching sport
  • understand the principles of safe and equitable coaching practice
  • be able to plan a series of strength and conditioning for sport coaching sessions
  • be able to prepare the strength and conditioning for sport coaching environment
  • be able to deliver a series of strength and conditioning for sport coaching sessions
  • be able to monitor and evaluate strength and conditioning for sport coaching sessions.

How will my learning programme be structured?

Learning programmes are usually designed by the recognised centre that delivers the qualification. They may, therefore, vary in length and format. Depending on your needs, delivery centres can offer intensive courses, or a series of learning events, over a period of weeks. Whatever the timescale, all learning programmes should include the following phases:

  • an induction to the qualification and your programme of learning and assessment
  • a learning programme that meets your needs, focusing on the theory and practice of coaching strength and conditioning for sport
  • a programme of assessment, spread throughout the course, including observations of your coaching by an appropriately qualified assessor.

At the end of the programme, you will be provided with formal feedback on your performance and an action plan for your further development.

The 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Strength and Conditioning for Sport (L2CCSCQ) assessment will require you to:

  • understand the roles and responsibilities of a strength and conditioning coach
  • understand how to apply different coaching styles to support various styles of learning
  • understand how aid the development of participant performance
  • deliver a linked and progressive strength training programme
  • deliver a linked and progressive training programme for either speed or endurance
  • complete a multiple-choice theory paper
  • be observed coaching a strength-specific coaching session
  • be observed coaching either a speed- or strength-specific coaching session
  • Create a continuous professional development (CPD) action plan for future development in coaching practice.

If you are looking to develop as a coach or have a keen interest in the area then I would highly recommend you attend.

This 4 day programme is designed to give you ALL the tools required to start training athletes on Monday morning!

You’ll go through the key areas required to immediately begin assisting the training of clients and athletes on the Monday morning.

We’ll be covering the areas of my expertise including gym based strength, power and hypertrophy training, movement training and screening. Then the course will be rounded off with the theoretical underpinning for all these elements in relation to an applied strength and conditioning setting. If you want to know about how to get results with your athletes, whether it be in a pressurised professional sport environment or a long tern athlete development role it will all be covered, and you will be able to apply it to your environment.

HERE’S THE THOUGHTS OF SOME PREVIOUS COURSE ATTENDEES:

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The programme is aimed at individuals looking to get into strength and conditioning at all levels. It covers the fundamentals required to assist as a strength and conditioning coach or trainer as well as to compliment sport specific coaching sessions. For example you may work as a technical rugby, football or cricket coach (or any sport), the information you’ll learn from us really will improve your understanding of your own sport.

It is also suited to those individuals who take their training extremely seriously and want to learn more about key aspects of their own training programme.

Lastly, it is suitable for professionals from other disciplines such as physiotherapy, osteopathy, sports therapy etc who are looking to add another dimension to their practice or simply want to improve their knowledge base.

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It’s not suitable for those people who feel they have nothing more to learn! Definitely don’t book unless you have an open mind and are willing to learn a LOT over the 4 days.

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Firstly pay to secure your place. The programme has limited availability and the previous courses have SOLD OUT months before the course date.

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When you register you’ll get an email with all the course details as well as a Learner Details Form to complete.


 

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What we can provide

We can provide your athletes, parents and coaches with:

Workshops on a number of topics:

  • Sports Psychology *
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These are the very same workshops that we take all our APA coaches through in-house to make sure that we are providing all our coaches with the very best all round knowledge in a range of sport science topics

You can now book on these workshops individually or create a bespoke package for your own team of coaches. *Coaches who attend the Sports Psychology, Performance Nutrition, Periodisation and Training Methods Workshop will become members of APA’s Youth Coach Network and will be recognised as APA affliated coaches.  We will promote your services on our website!

 

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Here’s what two candidates had to say about the recent ‘Coordination and Strength training for Sports’ Workshop:

”As well as providing a large collection of applicable drills, this course reinforces the basic sports science behind the physical training. It challenges the coach to be creative about warm ups, footwork, strength, speed and coordination training, and to constantly consider ways in which to monitor and challenge their player. The day refreshed my memory of the reasons I got into coaching and I came away with a renewed enthusiasm for developing young athletes. Thank you. ” Clifford Devonshire, Licensed Tennis Coach.

 

”Thanks a lot for this excellent course. I have really enjoyed it and have taken a few points back with me.  I would be happy to come along your other courses.”  Sebastien Scaux, Licensed Tennis Coach

 

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”I really enjoyed the workshop and felt I got a lot out of it. I had been through a lot of the techniques and drills for SAQ before but its always good to refresh them and even learnt some new one.  What I found most useful was the progressions into sport specific scenarios and adding the element of competition to keep the athletes switched on and engaged.  overall a very good workshop and I will defiantly keep an eye out for future workshops you run.” Patrick Waplington, Sports studies student, University of Hertfordshire. 

 

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You can now book on these workshops individually or create a bespoke package for your own team of coaches. *Coaches who attend the Sports Psychology, Performance Nutrition, Periodisation and Training Methods Workshop will become members of APA’s Youth Coach Network and will be recognised as APA affliated coaches.  We will promote your services on our website!

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