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Old 11-08-2005, 05:51 PM
ryancostill ryancostill is offline
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Default Re: the art of coaching: feedback, modelling and skill failure.

Next we will discuss Modelling or Demonstration.

My worry as a new coach is that if I demonstrate the lifts myself, as I have some problems with my own technique, will it actually be beneficial or detrimental to the novice lifters?

The following excerpt is from “Observational Learning: The Forgotten Psychological Method in Sport Psychology” by P. McCullagh and M. R. Weiss

A chapter from the book:
Van Raalte, J.L., & Brewer, B.W. (Eds.). Exploring sport and exercise psychology (2nd Ed.). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.


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When choosing someone to demonstrate a physical skill, the first inclination is to select a model that can execute the behavior flawlessly (i.e., correct model). However, an alternative method is to expose observers to a model who is attempting to learn the skill and has not yet achieved exemplary performance (i.e., learning model). McCullagh and Caird (1990) compared these model types with college students attempting to learn a laboratory timing skill, and found that a learning model was more effective than watching someone execute the skill without errors, but only if observers were privy to feedback given to the model. Hebert and Landin (1994) extended this study to a complex sport skill (tennis forehand). Participants either received feedback about their own performance, watched a learning model and heard the instructor’s feedback to the model, received a combination of both treatments, or received no demonstrations or feedback. The combination of treatments led to best performance, while the learning model participants produced performance similar to that achieved by receiving feedback about one’s own skill execution. Collectively these findings imply that, if it is impossible for the coach or teacher to give individualized feedback, participants can learn from peers who are practicing the skill, especially if the coach is providing them with informational or corrective feedback.

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Furthermore, higher self-efficacy may be invoked when learners watch similar others persist and master skills for which they have experienced prior difficulty (McCullagh & Weiss, in press).

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For the novice, seeing elite athletes perform skills perfectly may have a negative impact on self-efficacy, motivation, and performance because of perceived dissimilarity between the observer and model.

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Essentially if novice’s are exposed to an expert model (demonstrator) they may be unable to associate with this performance. They may think “I will never reach that level!”, become disheartened and not carry the learning experience of watching the model into their own performance.

What appears to be a more successful teaching/learning method, especially if coaching large groups where individual attention is not always possible, is to utilise a demonstrator with imperfect technique BUT ensure that feedback is provided so that the onlooking novices know why that individual’s technique is imperfect.

Also a useful tool maybe to use a demonstrator who is just slightly ahead of the learners in the skill development process. This way the learners may be able to identify with the model and feel that with some effort they will be able to achieve such a performance level.

For complete novices, using an elite or expert demonstrator may actually be detrimental to the motor learning process.



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