Coaching is an art. The art consists of knowing when, and what types of feedback a diver should receive in order to improve their ability to dive, and ultimately, their performance.
In order to explain this further, first, let’s define a few terms.
Feedback is the information that a diver receives about their performance, whether that performance is in practice, a training session, or during a competition.
Intrinsic feedback is information that a diver receives from his or her own experiences. Most divers know when they do a good dive. From experience, they know what a dive feels like that has a proper rip entry. Most divers also know that a smack is the result of a bad dive, unfortunately the result of the pain that comes from landing out of position. This type of feedback comes from the divers’ own senses.
Extrinsic feedback is the information that a diver receives from an outside source. This information may come from a coach, a teammate, scores during a competition, or a TIVO or videotape.
Both intrinsic and extrinsic feedback are important when coaching. But if not used properly, they can also be detrimental to the ultimate goal, which is to help a diver improve.
Know When to Give Extrinsic Feedback
One of the difficult aspects of coaching is being able to tailor feedback to the individual needs of the diver. Younger divers with little or no experience will rely more on the extrinsic feedback from a coach. It is amazing how many times you ask a beginner how a dive entered the water and they look at you with a blank stare and reply, “I don’t know.”
Experienced divers on the other hand, may need very little extrinsic feedback, knowing what happened in their dive and how to make a correction. A comment such as, “the dive was a little short,” or possibly nothing more than a hand movement or head nod may be all that is needed.
Never Underestimate an Athletes’ Ability to Make Changes
Athletes have a remarkable ability to adjust, make changes, and improve with little or no feedback. Coaches many times underestimate that ability and overburden the individual with information that does nothing but cause confusion.
Just as a diver needs to trust their coach, the coach needs to trust the ability of their diver to not only make corrections in their diving, but also to learn how to make changes.
The art of coaching really boils down to knowing when to use extrinsic feedback to improve a divers’ ability, when to allow a divers’ intrinsic feedback to do the job, and how to combine the two to create the best possible performance in both practice and competition.