Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Eight Ways to Give Appreciative Feedback

Giving feedback—and receiving feedback—can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to athletes. However, providing constructive criticism and pointing out areas for improvement is crucial for their growth and development. In this article, we will explore eight effective strategies for giving appreciative feedback that will enable athletes to make significant improvements in their performance.

1. Feedback should be a conversation

When providing feedback to athletes, it’s important to approach it as a conversation rather than a one-sided lecture. Appreciative feedback should be a collaborative process, where both parties engage in an open discussion. This approach fosters a positive and supportive environment that encourages athletes to actively participate in their own development.

2. Focus on the future

Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, it’s essential to focus on the athlete’s future performance and potential for improvement. Appreciative feedback should emphasize strategies and solutions that will help athletes become more effective and productive in their future endeavors. By shifting the focus to the positive aspects and offering guidance for growth, athletes are motivated to strive for continuous progress.

3. Use the four-step approach

To provide effective appreciative feedback, follow the four-step approach: signaling, objectivity, impact, and questioning. Begin by signaling that you wish to provide feedback, ensuring that the athlete is receptive. Be descriptive and objective about the issue at hand, avoiding personal judgment. Discuss the impact of the behavior or action on the athlete’s performance. Finally, end with a question to encourage the athlete’s reflection and input.

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4. Listen to your athlete

It’s crucial to listen to your athlete throughout the feedback conversation. Understand that there may be times when they are not in the right headspace to receive feedback. By acknowledging their emotions and giving them the option to postpone the discussion, you demonstrate respect and consideration. A productive and meaningful discussion can only occur when both parties are ready and open to it.

5. Let your athlete talk back

Allowing athletes to have a voice and express their thoughts is vital. By ending the feedback conversation with a question, you provide them with an opportunity to reflect and explain their behavior. Sometimes, there may be underlying factors or circumstances that you were not aware of. Moreover, asking questions empowers athletes to take ownership of their growth and come up with their own improvement plans.

6. Start and finish with the positive

When offering feedback, it’s essential to incorporate positive reinforcement. Sandwiching constructive feedback between positive aspects helps athletes feel appreciated and valued. Genuinely praise their strengths and achievements, as this boosts their self-confidence and motivation. By striking a balance between appreciation and constructive criticism, you create a supportive environment conducive to growth.

7. Make feedback regular and consistent

To foster a culture of continuous improvement, it’s crucial to provide regular and consistent feedback to all team members. Feedback should not be reserved for only the top performers or those who need the most work. By offering feedback to all players, you ensure that each athlete has the opportunity to grow and reach their full potential. Consistency in feedback reinforces its importance and encourages athletes to actively seek it out.

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8. Athletes want feedback

Contrary to popular belief, athletes genuinely value feedback. They recognize that feedback is essential for their development and improvement. Providing specific and constructive feedback tailored to each athlete’s goals and aspirations demonstrates your investment in their success. As athletes become accustomed to consistent feedback, they begin to appreciate its role in their growth, viewing it as a valuable tool rather than criticism.


Q: How should I approach providing feedback to athletes?

A: When providing feedback to athletes, approach it as a conversation rather than a one-sided lecture. Encourage open dialogue and collaboration to create a supportive environment for growth.

Q: How can I ensure that athletes are receptive to feedback?

A: Begin by signaling that you wish to provide feedback and make sure the athlete is open and ready to receive it. Respect their emotions and give them the option to postpone the discussion if necessary.

Q: How can I make feedback more effective?

A: Use the four-step approach: signal, objectivity, impact, and questioning. This method ensures that your feedback is clear, objective, and encourages the athlete’s reflection and input.


Giving appreciative feedback to athletes is essential for their growth and development. By approaching feedback as a conversation, focusing on the future, and using a four-step approach, you create a supportive environment for athletes to thrive. Regular and consistent feedback, along with incorporating positive reinforcement, further enhances their progress. Remember, athletes value feedback that is specific, constructive, and tailored to their goals and aspirations. By providing them with the guidance they need, you empower them to reach their full potential.

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