Some Principles of Feedback and Practice for High-Performance Shooting

Peter Vint, Ph.D.
United States Olympic Committee
Performance Technology Department Coaching & Sport Sciences Division

Skill Performance process Feedback considerations
Types Functions Delivery – who, what, how, and when

Practice considerations

An ability that has been developed by practice, training, and/or experience.

Skilled performers demonstrate:
Focused, goal-oriented behavior Improvements with practice, training, and/or experience Effective use of feedback

Types of skill:
Perceptual skill Motor skill Cognitive skill

Performance process
Knowledge of the activity Knowledge of performers Knowledge of tools Strategy for observation

Feedback Physical practice Mental practice Physical conditioning

Observation and/or Measurement
Situation (range or lab) Vantage points, distance Number of observations Tools for observations

Evaluation and Diagnosis
Range of performance Strengths and opportunities Prioritization of faults

Information about a performance outcome or result and the factors responsible for it.

Types of feedback
Visual, audible, sensory

Extrinsic or augmented
Knowledge of results (KR) Knowledge of performance (KP)

Other aspects
Qualitative vs Quantitative Terminal vs Concurrent Instantaneous vs Delayed Immediate vs Summary Uniform vs Faded

Functions of feedback
Information and guidance
Provides relevant and useful information to identify, prioritize, and guide the correction of errors.

Creates associations between stimuli and responses.

Provides impetus to continue training, practice, and providing maximum effort.

Feedback delivery methods
Who should control feedback delivery? What should feedback include? How should feedback be delivered? When should feedback be given?

Who should control feedback?
Athletes tend to make better use of feedback when they control its delivery. Function of experience, maturity, skill level, and skill complexity.
Novice shooters will tend to take most advantage of coach-controlled feedback Experienced shooters should be weaned off coach-controlled feedback

What should feedback include?
Specific information the shooter cannot gather directly. Specific instruction on what can be done to improve performance.
Limit to factors known to influence performance Consider time frame allowed for correction Consider experience and maturity

Useful cues (verbs) to help associate performance with result. Greater precision, if useful, for more experienced/mature athletes.

Prioritizing feedback
Critical features first
Identify factors that truly influence performance Sensitive to training or maximize improvement

Time frame/Difficulty
Some changes are harder or take longer to realize (training induced changes). Priorities between-season vs within-competition may differ.

Relationship to previous actions
Some faults may arise from others.

Effects of goal setting and achievement
Easier to accomplish goals can enhance motivational aspects.

Example: rifle
Score = Final position of round
Initial position of round Time Velocity Change of position of round Gravity Air resistance






Trigger control

How should feedback be given?
Be specific but concise Keep it positive and action oriented Provide more frequent feedback for novices Promote introspection to avoid dependency Find and use cue words and phrases that hit the mark (“7 ± 2”)

When should feedback be given?
Traditional view:
Immediate feedback is best.

Research findings:
Frequent feedback is best during skill acquisition and for complex skills. Delayed, reduced frequency, and summary feedback is generally best for learning. Faded and bandwidth feedback schedules should be considered.

Benefits of summary feedback

From Schmidt, Young, Swinnen, & Shapiro (1989)

Take home points on feedback
Provide feedback to maximize learning and competition performance. Provide feedback athletes cannot obtain themselves. Help athletes become introspective and independent. When ready, provide athletes opportunity to control delivery of feedback. Prioritize feedback so it can be acted upon in the time frame considered. Provide feedback more frequently early, less frequently later. Consider delayed, reduced frequency, summary, and bandwidth feedback.

Traditional view:
Conditions leading to the best practice performance will also lead to the best competition performance.

Criteria for evaluating practice:
Competition results Consistent performance in different conditions

Aspects of practice:
Scheduling (blocked vs random) Consistency (constant vs variable)

Blocked vs random
Blocked Practice
Complete “blocks” of the same task before moving on to next.

Random Practice
Take different shots in random order until same number of shots achieved.

Benefits of random practice

From Shea and Morgan (1979)

Constant vs variable
Conditions held constant during practice

Conditions different within and between practices

Factors to consider:
Environmental: light, temperature, wind, humidity, altitude Situational: direction, surface, crowd/ambient noise, fatigue, pressure Artificial: distance, speed, gun, ammo, surface, noise, fatigue, stimulation

Benefits of variable practice

From Catalano and Kleiner (1984)

Take home points on practice
Design practices to maximize learning and competition performance. Design practices that encourage “active learning” from your athletes to foster introspection and limit coach dependency. Consider advantages of:
random versus blocked practice. variable versus constant practice.

Be creative and keep it fresh.

Technology to gather and process information
Sensors to measure specific mechanical, neurological, and physiological output

Film, audio recorders, camcorders, coaching and authoring software

Chen, D.D. (2001). Trends in augmented feedback research and tips for the practitioner, JOPERD, 72 (1), 32-36. Hastie, P. & Hannan, P. (1990). Feedback to athletes: Strategies for improving competitive performance. Modern Athlete and Coach, 28, 7-9. Magill, R.A. (2001). Augmented feedback in motor skill acquisition. In R.N.Singer, H.A. Hausenblaus, & C.M. Janelle (Eds.), Handbook of Sport Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 86-114). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Newell, K.M., Morris, L.R., & Scully, D.M. (1985). Augmented information and the acquisition of skill in physical activity. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 13, 235-261. Salmoni, A.W., Schmidt, R.A., & Walter, C.B. (1984). Knowledge of results and motor learning: A review and critical appraisal. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 355-386. Schmidt, R.A. & Bjork, R.A. (1992). New conceptualizations of practice: Common principles in three paradigms suggest new concepts for training. Psychological Science, 3 (4), 207-217.

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