Otago Polytechnic

Dr Simon Middlemas is helping coaches of elite athletes use video feedback more effectively.

For the latest generation of athletes, technology is commonplace. With rapid technological advances, falling costs, better quality analysis software and greater accessibility, it is easy to see why digital video appeals to coaches and practitioners working in sport. Digital video is frequently used, both pre-competition and post-competition, by coaches and athletes to enable them to reflect more accurately on aspects of performance and consider how they might be improved. Athletes’ negative responses to video feedback (VFB) – such as anxiety, embarrassment and loss of self-confidence – can lead to players becoming reluctant to give and receive critical feedback during video sessions, resistance to feedback and a failure to learn. To minimise this risk of negative response, Simon's research has explored exactly how people think and feel watching themselves on video.

"To do this I used the Think-Aloud Protocol, designed to generate direct information about the subject’s ongoing thought processes and emotions during the period the athlete is engaged in a task (e.g., watching video feedback), and not the thoughts and feelings they were engaging in at the time of executing the skill performance. The 10 study participants were elite youth footballers from one professional football academy in the English Championship League."

The findings of this study suggest that coaches and practitioners should consider questions of context and purpose when choosing whether to use video with athletes. Video feedback – presenting both positive and negative aspects of performance – may be best suited to the post-performance debrief, where typically the player has time ahead of them to reflect on performance. In the debrief, emotions can be running high following performance success or failure, and the role of the video is to evaluate performance and identify areas where the athlete or team has achieved their goals or, conversely, to identify where they need to improve. Over-focusing players’ attention on error correction and detection may have a more corrosive effect on players' confidence levels. A more balanced approach – including time focused solely on adaptive behaviours – may help players to maintain or recover confidence.

By contrast, the self-modelling video is perhaps better suited to influencing pre-competition emotions and thoughts, helping the athletes achieve an ideal psychological state. Self-modelling video is a form of observational learning, where the observed and the observer, object and player, are the same person. This research confirms that self-modelling videos are likely to increase levels of positive affect by enhancing learners’ feelings of satisfaction with their performance. The coach or practitioner needs to consider the right time to deliver this intervention – immediately prior to performance, or possibly earlier in the week to set the tone for training and preparation. The best time to introduce this intervention may well be dependent on psychological as well as practical factors.




September 2017