Athlete feedback is a critical tool for the coach. This is a response on to a post on the facebook “Rugby Coaches” page. However, I think it is worth publishing as a stand-alone article.
Athlete feedback can make or break a coach. I have made plenty of mistakes before concluding that negative feedback is pointless. It looks back at the error rather than forward to the next opportunity to be successful. If we can create a culture where future outcomes are more important than past wins or losses it will create a performance environment where all elements of the team and focused on the future.
As an outcome-focused coach, I don’t criticize. But rather give the positive outcome I want to see but only after asking the athlete for his opinion. At least 60% of the time the athlete knows what he has done. Athlete feedback, for example, an athlete passes low due to poor follow through. Just quietly ask him why did that happen, and they usually will correctly state something like “my hands finished short.” Follow up with “How will you fix it?” As long as the response is correct then you can be precise about a confirmation “follow through long and finish with your hands at the target.” Why focus on a mistake that we can’t erase. The next opportunity is all that matters.
One small other note – if an athlete repeatedly does not complete a skill correctly it is probable that he does not understand what is required. Then you should change your coaching methodology. Trust is critical in this process. You have to respect the athlete, and they have to respect the coach, or it will not function. #positiveandprecise
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