Why Is Feedback Important in Sports?

Sports Coach Brian Mackenzie explains that the feedback athletes receive helps them control their actions by evaluating the effectiveness of movements made during those actions. The athletes first receive feedback from various parts of the body, such as the senses, muscles and tendons, as well as directly to the spinal cord through muscles and joints. Different types of feedback include: intrinsic feedback, extrinsic feedback, positive feedback and negative feedback.

Positive feedback is information provided to the athlete about the correctness of a specific movement. It provides a future frame of reference for executing the movement correctly, and it can easily motivate an athlete. The goal of negative feedback is to inform the athlete about what was incorrect about the movement. It should also contain information about how to correctly execute the movement. Craig Wrisberg of Human Kinetics asserts that when giving athletes extrinsic feedback about their technical skills, one can give them either descriptive feedback or prescriptive feedback. Descriptive feedback is basically what one observed about the athletes movements, while prescriptive feedback is about what they need to do based on what was observed. Prescriptive feedback is preferred because it alerts athletes to the corrections necessary to improve their performance.