Practice & Feedback

Albert Ip makes a point that practice does not make perfect.

My daughter’s swimming coach puts it very well: "Practice makes your stroke permanent. If you practise bad technique, you just become a more efficient bad swimmer with the bad stroke. It is even more difficult to unlearn the bad strokes."

At an HPT workshop given by ISPI, one of the facilitators told a story about his daughter, who was a gymnastics instructor. This is the story as I remember it. Her main method of teaching was to provide only positive encouragement after each attempt, without criticism. Just before the next attempt, she would give some corrective advice, like "keep your elbows tucked in this time". This method seemed to work quite well.

She took leave from this role, and was replaced by another instructor who believed in immediate feedback. Most other aspects of the program remained the same. After a year of receiving immediate feedback, the gymnasts’ performance was much worse, and some left the program.

The program went into decline.

Many of us in the training and education profession have been told about the merits of immediate feedback, but this one example has stuck with me over the past two years, and I even try to use it with my children. Don’t give criticism, or ways to improve, until the person has the chance to try it again. If you received negative feedback, without being able to show that you could do it better, you would only feel bad about your performance. This makes sense to me anyway.

I still believe that the only way to develop a skill is through practice and feedback, however when and how the feedback is given is extremely important.

2 thoughts on “Practice & Feedback”

  1. Perfect Practice makes perfect.TrackBack from

    Harold recently commented on Practice and Feedback. Part of the message is: muscle memory will commit you to what you practice – if you practice incorrectly then that bad form will stay with you. My f


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