Observational vs coaching feedback on non-dominant whole-body motor skill performance - application to technique training

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2021 Nov;31(11):2103-2114. doi: 10.1111/sms.14030. Epub 2021 Aug 16.


We studied the effect of peer- and self-observational feedback versus coaching feedback during technique training on performance in competitive adolescent cross-country skiers. Fifty-four skiers (14.3 ± 0.6 years) were divided into a control group and three intervention groups (dyad practice, video, or coaching feedback), which practiced in the asymmetrical uphill sub-technique G2 on one side (non-dominant side), but not the other (dominant side) for 6 × 30 min over a 5 weeks period, on roller skis outdoors. High-speed performance and skiing economy were assessed on a roller ski treadmill before and after the intervention, and a questionnaire was answered post-intervention. The video feedback (p = .025, d = .65) and coaching feedback (p = .007, d = .89) groups improved high-speed performance during the intervention and an ANCOVA showed a tendency for different change scores between interventions (F3,49 = 2.5, p = .068, η p 2 = .134), with a difference between the coaching feedback and dyad practice (p = .05). No change was seen in skiing economy in any group. Coaching feedback ranked higher on enjoyment compared with dyad practice (p < .001) and led to higher self-perception of improved technique compared with the control group (p = .038). Overall, feedback from a competent coach seems better than observation for improving performance in young athletes, although self-observation through video with attentional cues seems a promising tool for increasing individual feedback when coaching large groups.

Keywords: dyad practice; motor learning; motor performance; practice efficiency; talent development; video feedback.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Athletic Performance / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knowledge of Results, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Mentoring / methods*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Observation
  • Skiing / physiology*
  • Skiing / psychology*