Honest Feedback

by C.J. Aragon

One of the most important things a coach can provided to a student athlete is honest feedback. Some of the best coaches I know are great at providing honest evaluations and feedback to their athletes.
But providing assessment of a performance, is a two way street. If you want, and need, coaching from your coach, parents or peers it is a process.
I believe the most important aspect to the feedback process is to make sure the athlete receiving the feedback responds appropriately. Most coaches and parents know what I am talking about, we see one of two reactions. The first reaction is that the student will take the coaches feedback and work to improve at the next given practice opportunity. This is the ideal result. The second is that the student gets mad at the coach. This is not the desired outcome. The student in many cases will get angry with the coach, or even blame the coach, many times ignoring the fact that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. You may not always hear what you want to hear, but for you to improve you may need to listen and take the feedback appropriately if you want to continue to improve.
It is also important to remember that giving and receiving truly honest feedback is not comfortable. For this reason it is actually difficult to find people that will give you truly honest feedback on your performance. Many people will sugarcoat their assessment, because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Sometimes you won’t get good feedback because there is no easy way to tell you that you really didn’t do that well. Other times you cannot get good feedback because people you are asking don’t really have your interest in mind. For these reasons it is very important that you are able to find someone who is willing to be honest with you. Find someone who will have an uncomfortable conversation with you. Someone who wants to see you do better and will tell you the truth.
The final problem I see is that if you are winning you still need to be working to get better. I see it every year, students come in with a distinguished high school career, the won a lot. Unfortunately they only had high praise in high school and did not get the needed honest feedback to keep improving. When they get to a level where the competition is tough they usually struggle. They needed the honest feedback and assessment long before they ever received it. Many times this slows or completely stops their improvement as a student athlete.
Your coaches need to know as a student athlete you not only listen to their feedback with an open mind, but that you’ll take that advice to heart, as well. For you to grow as a competitor you need to seek honest feedback. I guarantee you won’t always get the best advice, but show those helping you that you value their opinion and will always do your best to use their feedback to improve, and the majority of the time you will improve.

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