by Richard K. Stratton Phd.
How much information should my feedback contain? The most straightforward answer to this question is to avoid the extremes, that is, do not give too much or too little. Too much information on each feedback message can overload the athlete. It will likely give them too much to think about and produce confusion. It can even lead to "Paralysis by Analysis" in which the athletes are thinking so much about what they are trying to correct, they can barely perform the skill at all. Too little information in the feedback message is not helpful. The athletes need enough information in order to fix the problem you are trying to address. A modified version of the old acroynym KISS is relevant here; that is Keep It Short and Specific, short to prevent overload, and specific to focus the athlete's attention on the correction you are trying to make. Phrase the corrective information in a positive way. For example. to a swimmer having a problem with flip turns, do not say "Don't turn too early" but rather "Remember to wait for the turn marker" or "Wait until you see the end of the pool". Negatively worded statements focus on the problem, positively worded statements focus on the correction. You are trying to help the athlete correct the skill, not worry about the problem.
How often should I give feedback? There is no absolute answer to this question. You need to consider two factors: the skill being taught and level of learning the athlete has reached. As we teach many skills, athletes are able to do a lot of repetitions of the skill during practice. In those situations you not not need to give feedback as frequently. In a few skills, however, the repetitions may be limited and thus you may need to provide feedback after virtually every attempt the athlete does. As the athlete first learns a skill, feedback should be provided more frequently so that the athelete doesn't become too frustrated or learn bad habits. As performance improves, you should reduce the rate of feedback so that the athlete will think more about how the movement fells and not be dependent on you for error identification and error correction.
In the next issue: Part 2:
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