"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." Bill Gates

Feedback is information you receive about your performance. Feedback is crucial to make improvements to your performance. This is because feedback gives us information on what we do well and what we don't do well. Importantly good feedback will also give information about how to improve performance so that you know exactly what it is you need to do to get better. Feedback therefore gives us direction about how to improve performance.

What makes effective feedback?

  • It is given to the performer as soon as possible after the performance or part of the performance
    • This is important as it is still fresh in the performers mind and therefore it is easy to relate the information to the performance. In training this is also important as the performer can act on this feedback straight away and try to make improvements.

  • Ideally positives as well as areas that could be improved are given
    • Getting information about what they are doing well will increase a performer motivation and desire to improve whilst the information about how to improve will tell them what to work on next.

  • Only one or two pieces of information are given at a time
    • This is important so that the performer is not overloaded with information. This is important so that the performer can actually focus on developing one/two things and not trying to do to much which may result in no improvements.

  • The information is specific
    • It is important to make sure the information is directly related to the athletes performance and information given will help the athlete solve their particular challenges.

  • The feedback is precise and accurate
    • It is important that the message given is clear and to the point in order to avoid confusion. It is also important that the feedback gives correct information about the performance and how to improve so that when the athlete makes changes based on the feedback it results in improved performance.

Types of Feedback

Internal feedback

Internal feedback is information that you feel about your performance (subjective). For example: What are your own thoughts and feelings (knowledge of performance) about your performance/training? You can feel your body transferred weight forward (kinaesthetic feedback).

For example you might feel that you sliced across the ball in your golf swing and as a result the ball went off to the left.

External feedback

External feedback is information you receive about your performance from various sources, usually verbal, visual or written. For example: positive advice from your teacher/coach, a video of your performance, or a completed match analysis sheet.

There are various different examples of external feedback

  • Verbal - given by a teacher/observer after watching your performance. Telling you points to improve and points you have done well. An example of this would be, "My coach told me I had to straighten my legs during my cartwheel."

  • Written - given by your teacher/observer and is available for you to look at, normally an observation sheet. An example of this would be, "my partner had ticked a box to identify that I was not standing side on when performing an overhead clear."

  • Visual - watch model performance or video and watch your own performance to see strengths and weaknesses. An example of this would be, "I was videoed when performing my gymnastics routine so I could watch it back to identify weaknesses."

  • Knowledge of results - scores and results or where the ball/shuttle goes. An example of this would be, "I saw that my badminton long serve was landing in the middle of my opponents court enabling my opponent to play an attacking shot."

What effects the quality of the feedback given?

Validity & Reliability

  • The person giving the feedback must have a good understanding of the factor they are giving feedback on for the feedback to be valid.

  • The person must have observed you for long enough so that their feedback is based on sufficient information in order to make their judgements reliable.

  • How subjective the person giving feedback is. How likely are they to give a truthful unbiased opinion about your performance?

  • How effective the person giving feedback is at explaining their meaning? So that the performer does not get confused as to what is meant by the feedback.


  • A coach often has many athletes to watch and give feedback to. It may be difficult for you to get a lot of time with them to get the feedback needed?

  • Depending on the situation it may be difficult for a coach to get information to a performer. For example during a game of football the player may be on the other side of the pitch and not able to hear the coach due to the noise.

  • Visual feedback may be difficultAlternatively though this form of feedback in training sessions is normally really easy to access as no extra equipment is needed and information can be given quickly

  • During training or matches there are a number of distractions that may mean that it is difficult for you to give your coach/peer your full attention.

Other Considerations

  • Verbal feedback is normally given during a performance or training session so it can be difficult to keep it as a permanent record. This makes it difficult to use this data for comparative purposes. This can be overcome by recording this information in a training diary.