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Coach Tip: Give Feedback Like the Rim

The quality of our teaching = to the quality of our feedback

Telling isn't teaching. Player's learn through their own experience. Yet what makes an experience a learning opportunity is the feedback associated with it.

Certain aspects of the game provide it's own excellent feedback and have nothing to do with us (shooting for example).

But for many skill areas it's not obvious to players how they're performing until they get tangible feedback from us. It's there that our ability to offer useful feedback determines our effectiveness as a teacher and their development as players.

One great way to learn to give better feedback is to study the master trainer itself... the rim. First of all the rim makes it very clear what your 'shooting' for. You know exactly what success looks like, what your 'goal' is. It then gives excellent feedback with every attempt. Let's look in detail at the feedback it offers

Feedback Like the Rim

With every shot, the rim offers feedback that is...immediate, objective, and specific.

1) Immediate... No matter how many you've shot, no matter how late in the evening it is, the rim lets you know instantly how you did. Imagine 5 shots blindfolded, then getting feedback all at once on each shot. It'd be hard to know what to correct.

So maybe the lesson is... offer lots of feedback on the spot, simply and quickly. No need to stop play to lecture or give another demonstration, you've already done that. Let the drill or competition continue as they hear your feedback as they play, in the moment of the mistakes you are seeing. Be even more on-the-spot to offer positive feedback. Let them know the little things they did well. It tells them in no uncertain way, what matters to you.

2) Objective... The rim does not play favorites nor hold grudges. It responds only to how you perform. It’s quick to praise (with a swish sound), and quick to point out mistakes. It stays patient, even-keel, even unemotional.

So maybe the lesson is... don't make a big deal about feedback just give it and move on to the next play. Keep emotion out of skill development feedback. The role of your feedback here is to hold the mirror up so they can see precisely what they're doing, not to yell or go into a tantrum. When contant objective feedback becomes your approach ... you won't hesitate to tell your star they've messed up... or to quickly compliment a player with whom you've had some recent tension. Nor will you get soft on players fearing you'll hurt their feelings.

Instead you'll just give feedback and move on, knowing that clear, objective feedback is both respectful and essential. Let them deal with it like they deal with missing a shot. Don't short change them by holding back or by spewing emotion. Give objective, unemotional feedback and trust the process.

Even as a mistake continues, for now, don't stop play... but stay persistent with your feedback. Remember that change takes time. If you sense the issue is effort related then point that out as well, objectively first. If it continues to be an effort issue, something else is going on that needs more attention.

3) Specific... the rim makes it very clear to a shooter just how a shot was missed or made.. off right, off left, too long, too short, Air Ball!, Swish... whatever. A shooter gets the specifics every time.

So maybe the lesson is... be clear and detailed with 2 things... 1) what you expect and 2) how they're doing. If they're ON, be quick to praise. If they're OFF, give clear feedback on how they're off. Don't go off on an emotional tantrum and think that helps an already motivated player (save your emotions for players that you want to praise wildly or who are unmotivated themselves). Instead, the teacher in you needs to break the skill down to learnable steps that make sense to that particular player.

In closing.. speak up often, say what you see when you see it, be quick to praise, be respectful and objective when correcting, give clear steps to a different outcome.

“Young man, the truth is I have NO clue how to actually help you! If I did I’d calmly clarify the reason for your mistakes and then create a more intelligent drill that itself would teach you to do it right!! But NOOOO I can’t do that right now!! And that frustrates me to no end… so instead I’m yelling at you!!! .. and that feels good!!... plus it puts the blame on you instead of the one in charge!! Do you understand me?!“

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