What does good feedback look like?
Clients will only be able to absorb limited information in feedback at any one time (especially in the early stages of learning skills), and different clients vary in their ability to make sense of and use this information. The personal trainer must therefore consider how much feedback their client can actually take in and use.
The personal trainer should focus on specific teaching points to help the client attend to the important aspects of the exercise. Do not clutter feedback with unimportant information.
Feedback should be immediate so proprioceptive information (how the movement felt) is still strong in the client’s memory. Delays between the movement and its feedback may lessen its effectiveness and impact, because subsequent information from other activities will distort the original memory. Feedback provided during performance of the exercise is called concurrent feedback, and can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. Feedback given after the exercise has been performed is called terminal feedback.
Feedback should be individualised, based on close observation of the client and an analysis of their performance rather than ‘rattling off’ generic points.
The personal trainer should use visual, verbal and non-verbal methods as appropriate to communicate the feedback. Demonstrating and modelling correct technique, repeating pertinent verbal instructions and teaching points, cueing key points, specific verbal corrective feedback, positive reinforcement, a ‘thumbs-up’, etc, are all examples of different modes of delivering feedback.
The feedback should aim to help the client to register variations in their own body movements, so they can eventually monitor and adjust their own exercise performance, thereby making them more skillful and less reliant on extrinsic feedback.