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Criticism vs. Feedback - What's the Difference?

As an athlete learns new skills and trains to refine those skills, listening and then acting on a coach’s comments is an unavoidable part of the process. A coach’s delivery of these comments can end up either motivating or discouraging an athlete.

An athlete’s decision to react positively or negatively to a coach’s comments is dependent on providing feedback, rather than criticism. So what’s the difference between criticism and feedback? Well, one is typically better received and leads to better results compared to the other.

Criticism vs. Feedback

Criticism passes judgment and focuses on an athlete’s faults.

The message that comes from criticism is harsh and tends to shame or embarrass the recipient. A coach who delivers criticism focuses the comments on the athlete rather than the athlete’s actions.

Feedback shares a constructive and remedial message.

The difference between criticism and feedback is feedback’s evaluative component. Rather than pointing out errors and passing snap judgments at an athlete, feedback is constructive and provides an athlete with suggestions on how to improve.

Here are a few more characteristics of feedback that distinguish it from criticism:

1. Feedback is respectful.

Mutual respect is a crucial element in a student-teacher or athlete-coach relationship. Giving harsh comments that are overly critical and unproductive is disrespectful and is unlikely to motivate an athlete to listen. On the other hand, a coach who delivers feedback with respect is more likely to empower an athlete to accept the comments. Feedback is better received by athletes who respect their coaches and instructors.

2. Feedback is positive.

Positive feedback is not the same thing as empty encouragement. Empty encouragement is saying, “Good job!” without any detail on what an athlete did well or could improve on the next time. Positive feedback is productive and is likely to encourage an athlete to listen. Sometimes positive feedback is corrective and includes comments on what to improve on. Other times, positive feedback is a simple comment on what an athlete did really well.

3. Feedback focuses on the future.

Criticism focuses on an athlete’s past mistakes and imperfections. Feedback acknowledges an area that needs improvement. But then, it’s followed up with a suggestion of what to do differently to improve in the future.

The coaches and staff at Elite Athletics in Goldsboro create a positive and constructive learning environment for each athlete and student. We offer tumbling, fitness, martial arts, Ninja Zone programs, as well as host active birthday parties for kids. To learn more about how to get your child started with any of our programs, contact us today.



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