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Feedback - an important element in the development of a new skill

Brian Mackenzie explains the types of feedback we receive that can help us control our movement.

The conscious brain, using a collection of learned movements, controls the action when we choose to move. For the movement to progress successfully, the athlete requires feedback which then allows the athlete to evaluate the effectiveness of the movement performed. There are three loops in this feedback process:

  • Exteroceptive feedback - the outcome of the movement through the athlete's senses, observation of the outcome by the athlete, observations from the coach, observations via video
  • Proprioceptive feedback - from proprioceptors in the muscle and tendons and the balance sensors which provide information on the 'feel' of the movement. Athletes can use this feedback to make fine adjustments to the movement
  • Kinaesthetic feedback - information fed directly into the spinal cord from the muscles, tendons, and joints to give information that can be responded to without conscious control

Types of Feedback

The type of feedback used will depend on the performer and the skill being learned. Feedback can be in the form of:

  • Intrinsic feedback -information received by the athlete as a direct result of producing a movement through the kinaesthetic senses - feelings from muscles, joints, and balance.
  • Extrinsic feedback - information not inherent in the movement itself but which improves intrinsic feedback. This is also known as augmented feedback. There are two main categories:
    • Knowledge of performance (KP) - information about the technique and performance. This can be provided verbally by the coach or visually via video. This enables the athlete to establish a kinaesthetic reference for the correct movement. e.g. an analysis of the sprinter's action.
    • Knowledge of results (KR) - information with regards to the result of the athlete's performance. e.g. the sprinter's 100m time
  • Positive feedback - Used to inform the athlete as to what was correct about the movement. Athletes need to know if a movement is correct as this provides the reference point for future execution of the movement. Positive feedback is essential in motivating athletes
  • Negative feedback - Used to inform the athlete as to what was incorrect about the movement. Negative feedback must include information on the action(s) required by the athlete to achieve the correct movement
  • Terminal feedback - information provided to the athlete before or after the performance
  • Concurrent feedback - information provided to the athlete during the performance

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Feedback - an important element in the development of a new skill. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 5 / September), p. 2

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Feedback - an important element in the development of a new skill [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Brian Mackenzie is a British Athletics level 4 performance coach and a coach tutor/assessor. He has been coaching sprint, middle distance, and combined event athletes for the past 30+ years and has 45+ years of experience as an endurance athlete.