Back in 2008 I read a great article in the Olympic Coach magazine (Winter 2008) written by Cheryl Coker from New Mexico State University which I felt delivered some great tips for providing feedback to athletes and fitness clients.
There is an art to providing good feedback which is why we devote a complete module to it as part of our PFCA courses.
If you are constantly providing feedback after every rep of every set your clients may develop an over-dependence on you. It is important for them to be able to actively engage in the coaching process – take the time to understand how they feel during an exercises, what works, what doesn’t. If you give too much feedback they may simply wait for your response after every single repetition without ever actually understanding what is happening to them.
Don’t be in a rush to jump in with the feedback. Give your client time to process what has just happened. A good strategy is to ask them to assess their performance before telling them what you observed.
Don’t overload your client with feedback. You may see ten things that need to be corrected but you should resist the temptation to bombard them every point. I like to keep my feedback to a maximum of three points. Pick the most important point and keep the feedback nice and simple.
Much of what your clients do will happen automatically. It’s easy to disrupt an performance by providing feedback that makes them consciously focus on an element of a normally automatically performed movement.
Choose your words carefully! By telling your client not to do something will actually plant that thought into their mind. By telling your client not to worry about being unable to complete the required number of repetitions actually makes them think they won’t be able to do it – something that may not have even crossed their minds!