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Old 11-14-2005, 04:57 PM
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Default Re: Scientific Discussion of the Week--The art of coaching: feedback, modelling and skill failure

Okay, I haven't read any of the comments so far, so I'll just give my input and then try to comment on the other's. [img]/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

Secondly, I am an ok weightlifter but have some problems with my own technique. Will demonstrating with my (imperfect) technique be of detriment to the learners?

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That depends on how imperfect your technique is - if we're not talking minimal differences, then perhaps it is better to not demonstrate. Most important though is that you know where your technique is imperfect, and then highlight these things in your own feedback to the students.

Finally, is it beneficial or detrimental for a weightlifter to fail lifts? For example should we always keep the novice weightlifter lifting weight which we know he or she will be able to successfully lift or should we allow them to increase the weight to a point where they “fail” the lift?

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An airplane always takes off against the wind [img]/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] And I'm a firm believer of using that in philosophy in training as well. Carrying a student to always complete lifts will not let him see the failure (when it will happen) from a good perspective. He has to get accustomed to being able to fail, but still not wanting to fail. I believe it would be best to always let the student push their limits, and if they fail, they get a chance to learn how to pick themselves up and strengthen themselves again.

1. Knowledge of performance (KP) - information about the technique and performance. This can be provided verbally from the coach or visually via video. This enables athletes to establish a kinaesthetic reference for the correct movement. e.g. if we video taped a sprinters running action and watched it back with his coach highlighting technical issues.

2. Knowledge of results (KR) - information with regards the result of the athlete's performance. e.g. the sprinter's 100 metre time.

(adapted from

So how much feedback should we provide to the novices??

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A combination is definitely necessary, however feedback regarding technique and performance is really important. When you learn something new it's like a puzzle, and every time you get feedback (that you understand) you get a new piece to the puzzle. Eventually, you will have most of the pieces (if not all) and you'll understand the full picture. Without the pieces of the puzzle it's impossible to see the picture.

In my opinion the same would hold true for knowledge of performance (KP). If we videotaped every lift an athlete performs in a clean and jerk session and had them watch each lift immediately upon completion pointing out flaws and suggesting improvements the lifters would become dependent on the feedback and fail to process the information required to learn the task. So we need to allow the learners more scope to identify their own mistakes and adjust their technique accordingly. This will create a more “active” learning environment and facilitate a more optimal learning experience.

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I would opt for the instructor to know which flaws to stress. At first, when the athlete is completely new to the lift, some things may be important, while others aren't necessary to comment on. If we take the puzzle example again, it's always easier to start with corners and edges, and then you can continue building on that.

Also, it is imperative that the student understands the critique.

Think of your own experience. In school (or college), in which environment have you learned more: a lecture where somebody is speaking to you and telling you lots of things but you are just sitting there listening, not asking questions, not answering questions just listening. Or a more hands on class where you can ask questions, experiment with equipment, try and solve problems yourself. The more active environment invariable creates a better learning environment.

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I think there are different kinds of people that respond to different kinds of teaching methods. Some are listeners and arguably learn the best from hearing things. Others are seers, and really have to see everything with their own eyes to register it. And others can be touchers, where they need to feel everything physically. If possible, one should try to have a mix of these three methods in instruction.

Active learning, where the learner is forced to analyse his/her own technique, will facilitate more successful learning.

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Definitely - but the learner needs to have the tools to work with at first. Often the student is blind to his own faults in the beginning.

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.

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I must disagree there. Or no, I agree with that IF there is an imperfect technique being shown, feedback MUST be provided as to why it's imperfect. BUT, I don't think it's better than to have a perfect technique shown. As a student, I feel one should know there is a level one can attain where there is perfect technique, and one should see what it looks like, and get to know why it is perfect. The imperfect parts can be shown from what the student does (wrong). I don't know if I made my point accurately here...

My 2 cents [img]/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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