As golf coaches, we give feedback to players constantly. It’s an integral part of what we do. Even saying nothing is feedback! Feedback is an important part of the learning process; it informs players of required changes, it influences motivation levels and the content of the feedback often becomes players’ focus as they practice.
However, unlike the technical aspect of coaching, we are given very little training on how to give players feedback. Consequently, studies have shown that coaches have poor awareness of when, what and how much feedback they give during coaching sessions.
Evaluating when, what and how much feedback you give players requires self-reflection on your behavior during and after coaching sessions. Reflective practice plays a vital role in your development as a coach (see information below about developing reflective practice skills). It is also an excellent tool for evaluating how you give feedback to players.
Consider the following elements of feedback:
Do you give feedback when players are taking their address position? During their swing, or after they’ve hit their shot? Feedback is best received when players can focus on only the feedback. This means giving players feedback between shots and even moving them away from the hitting space.
Coaches should not shy away from identifying areas for improvement. Unless these are identified, players cannot improve. However, coaches should frame the feedback in ways that give players a sense of control over making the correction. For example, “This is the problem and this is how we will correct it.”
Players will be unable to process more than one or two corrections during a coaching session – regardless of playing ability. This means that coaches need to carefully prioritize the corrections they make. Just as problematically, a coach may give a player three or four corrections knowing which ones are most important. Unfortunately, the player doesn’t know which point the coach thinks is more important, and may focus on the less relevant corrections.
Reflective practice is a valuable framework for developing feedback and other coaching skills. If you would like to develop your reflective practice skills, consider enrolling in The Coach Learning Group’s ‘Reflective Practice for Golf Coaches’ module.