Using feedback in a swimming lesson effectively

Feedback is an essential component of any learning process, especially in swimming. Feedback can help swimmers improve their skills, correct their mistakes, and increase their confidence. However, not all feedback is equally effective. In this blog post, we will discuss some principles and tips for using feedback in a swimming lesson effectively, based on the resources from

Principles of effective feedback

Effective feedback should be:

  • Specific: Feedback should focus on a specific skill or aspect of performance, rather than general praise or criticism. For example, instead of saying “good job” or “you need to work harder”, say “you did a great streamline off the wall” or “you need to keep your head down during freestyle”.
  • Timely: Feedback should be given as soon as possible after the performance, while the memory is still fresh and the learner can make adjustments. For example, instead of waiting until the end of the lesson to give feedback, give it after each drill or activity.
  • Frequent: Feedback should be given often enough to reinforce learning and maintain motivation, but not too often to overwhelm or distract the learner. For example, instead of giving feedback only once or twice during the lesson, give it every few minutes or after every few repetitions.
  • Balanced: Feedback should include both positive and constructive elements, to acknowledge what the learner did well and what they need to improve. For example, instead of only pointing out errors or only giving compliments, say “you have a good kick, but you need to work on your arm pull” or “you have improved your breathing, but you still need to relax your shoulders”.
  • Actionable: Feedback should provide clear and specific suggestions for improvement, rather than vague or abstract advice. For example, instead of saying “try harder” or “be more confident”, say “push off the wall with more force” or “look at the end of the pool when you swim”.

Tips for using feedback in a swimming lesson effectively

Based on these principles, here are some tips for using feedback in a swimming lesson effectively:

  • Use a variety of feedback methods: Feedback can be given verbally, visually, or physically. Verbal feedback is the most common and direct way of communicating with swimmers, but it can also be supplemented by visual feedback (such as demonstrations, videos, or charts) or physical feedback (such as hand signals, touch cues, or resistance devices). Using a variety of feedback methods can cater to different learning styles and preferences of swimmers.
  • Use positive language: Feedback should be phrased in a positive and encouraging way, rather than negative and discouraging. For example, instead of saying “don’t lift your head” or “stop bending your knees”, say “keep your head down” or “straighten your legs”. Using positive language can help swimmers feel more confident and motivated to learn.
  • Use questions and self-evaluation: Feedback should not only come from the instructor but also from the swimmers themselves. Asking questions and encouraging self-evaluation can help swimmers reflect on their own performance and identify their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, instead of telling swimmers what they did wrong or right, ask them “What did you do well?” or “What do you need to work on?”. Using questions and self-evaluation can help swimmers develop critical thinking and self-awareness skills.
  • Use feedback as a tool for learning, not a reward or punishment: Feedback should be used as a tool for learning and improvement, not as a reward or punishment for performance. For example, instead of giving feedback based on the outcome (such as whether the swimmer completed the task or not), give feedback based on the process (such as whether the swimmer used the correct technique or not). Using feedback as a tool for learning can help swimmers focus on mastering the skills, rather than comparing themselves to others or worrying about failure.

Feedback is a powerful tool for enhancing learning and performance in swimming. By following these principles and tips for using feedback in a swimming lesson effectively, you can help your swimmers achieve their goals and enjoy their swimming experience.

Better swimming.
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