I reviewed the book The Science of Volleyball Practice Development and Drill Design a while back. Here’s a quote that I think touches on a couple of key things for coaches.

“Knowledge of Performance (KP) provides this internal error-detection mechanism through external feedback; (e.g., when passing the ball, a performer knows the arms and/or body were out of position if the ball is not passed accurately to the target area). Thus, KP provides information about movement success in terms of meeting the performance goals, such as achieving the correct body position when passing the ball to the target area.”

So we have as a starting point something the athlete wants to do. That could be outcome-based, such as passing a serve to target (Knowledge of Outcome). It could alternatively be more of a process-based thing (KP). For example, doing a good transition to be ready to hit after blocking.

Either way, the athlete should be able to judge whether they succeeded or not. This is likely to be their biggest source of feedback. It is also how they are able to self-coach. That means we, as coaches, have to be very clear in our expectations.

Continuing the quote…

“If KP is to be effective, players must be given concrete instruction that shows how to achieve the desired skill execution. ‘Watch the ball’ and ‘nice play’ are expressions that give the athlete little useful information about performance (other than motivation) and will contribute little to performance improvement. ‘That was an excellent pass because the elbows were locked and the arms were away from the body at a forty-five degree angle,’ is an example of feedback that provides more efficient KP and increased learning.”

This is something I talk about in the Providing meaningful feedback post. It’s worth saying again, though. You’ll probably have to train those useless types of feedback out of your talk. We’ve all heard it so often it tends to come out automatically. That means we have to take the time to be more attentive to our words. Not a bad idea in general, really.

By the way, video can be a great source of knowledge of performance.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.