Helping You Coach – Purposeful Feedback – Part 5




We are continuing with running two series at the same time.

  1. The first is through this eNewsletter and will be exploring the role of player motivation in coaching.
  2. The second series will feature a link each month to an article from the series called: ‘Coaching Feedback’. What, when, and how a coach delivers feedback can make or break the effectiveness of players learning.


Eugenie Bouchard and Sylvain Bruneau

In this series, we explore the concept that the motivation level of your players is actually the most important foundation for their development.  The majority of coaches are all about delivering skills often to the exclusion of dealing with the critical motivation issues. Many coaches fail to realize the progression of motivation is every bit as important as the progression of skills.

The goal is to avoid the potential mismatch between a players’ motivation level and the skill level of the program they are in. Higher level skill programs need more motivation since more commitment and work is required. A mismatch increases the potential for players to drop out.

The solution is to start to profile your players as to where they are on what is called the ‘Passion Continuum’. For our program, we have tweaked it a bit to have the following levels:

  • Interested in tennis (they are fine to try it)
  • Likes tennis
  • Committed to tennis
  • Passionate about tennis

Progressing players through the levels:

There are two elements needed to help players to progress along the Passion Continuum:

  1. Identify where the player is on the continuum: For example, at North Vancouver Tennis centre we have a rubric which describes behaviour of players (see below). This becomes a way for us to correctly peg where the player is at and open doors for conversations with the players, parents, etc.
  2. Create/Implement strategies to progress player along the continuum: Each stage a player is in along the continuum has different priorities & strategies that need to be employed.

Moving Players from “Interested” to “Likes” tennis:

The goal here is the coach must create a stimulating environment. All activities need to be ‘gamified’ so players don’t feel they are in something like the stereotypical piano lesson (which produces more drop-outs than players). Remember however; skill development can’t be sacrificed on the altar of making things ‘entertaining’. Improving player’s competence directly improves their motivation. Significant repetition is required to build skills.  The big coaching challenge is to make the required repetition enjoyable. All activities must make players better not just be fun for entertainment sake. (E.g. how many games of ‘Tennis Baseball’ need to be played before a player can rally? Answer: One million)


Coaching feedback is a ‘power tool’ required by coaches. Therefore, coaches need to be masters at the art and science of feedback.

This article looks at two types of feedback (Motivational vs. Prescriptive) and how to improve effectiveness by targeting feedback.

Part 5 – Helping You Coach – Purposeful Feedback

Next issue: More Passion Continuum discussion and article #6 in the new Coaching Feedback series.  Stay tuned!

Read Part  1 Helping You Coach – New ‘Two Pronged’ Series

Read Part 2 Helping You Coach – Motivation Feedback

Read Part 3 Helping You Coach – Outcome vs. Process

Read Part 4 Helping You Coach – Internal vs. External Feedback

By Wayne Elderton, visit ACE COACH


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