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Athlete Feedback for Improved Training: Pt. 1


Athlete feedback is the absolute best way to comprehend a training program, comprehend individual responses to training and progressively improve the training system being implemented upon the thrower. In theory, these ideas and thoughts sound spectacular. At first glance, it seems that feedback would be very simple and if we trained in a vacuum, we could EASILY understand how various athletes respond differently to various methods of stimuli.


The downfall? We don’t train in vacuums, athletes have emotions, they have different schedules, they have different athletic paths and all will handle volume and intensity differently. So as coaches AND as athletes, where the heck can we start?

I recommend starting in two simple places.


  1. Measure the distances thrown on a regular basis.

  2. Take note of the ROUND or throw that an athlete typically hits their best throw.


Let’s start with measuring the distances thrown. The fact that throws coaches don’t take note of daily distances thrown is very peculiar. This is a direct, competitive feedback loop from the organism, aka the athlete. If coaches understand the stimulus they are implementing upon their athlete, they will then be able to understand why distances are growing, dropping off or even staying the same.


For starters, not measuring throws regularly would be similar to a weightlifting coach not taking note of weight/load put on the bar during snatches, cleans, jerks, squats, etc. The same would hold true for baseball coaches not taking note of velocity/pitch count for their pitchers or even a quarterbacks coach, not monitoring accuracy and volume of throws from their quarterback.


By regularly measuring throws, coaches are able to see how their thrower is handling weight room work, accessory work and even daily life in general. These measurements are the BEST explanation for future methods of peaking and future modalities in periodization. It’s a simple means that can lead to a dramatic improvement in performance!


Take note of the ROUND or throw that an athlete typically hits their best throw.


This seems odd but can be a strong indicator of future performance. Many coaches aren’t even monitoring the AMOUNT of throws an athlete takes during their session. By having a “pitch-count,” we are able to see when the thrower starts to groove technically and when they unite that technical movement with an intensified level of energy.


How can coaches do this? Put a cone out in the sector where the thrower is peppering their training throws. The coach must recognize and study what number throw the athlete hits a better mark. As the training progresses and the mark progresses, the coach is able to see what “round” they hit their best training mark. This feedback can then be used to analyze WHY they hit their best during those rounds.


Do they wake up and it takes 10-12 throws?


Is it a specific technical cue? Maybe it’s just an energy based cue to provide positive support?


Whatever it is, it is important to capture WHEN it happens and WHY it happens. As the season progresses, use this feedback to improve the round of best throws. Ideally, a thrower would take 2-5 warm up throws AND then hit a few big marks right in a row. This will emulate a bigger competition and the athlete will have greater confidence to put out a big throw early in the competition. By comprehending the WHY behind their big throw, we are then able to use that to elicit a positive response for a big toss!


Use feedback from the athlete to improve performance, understand their feedback and become a better coach and help your athletes accomplish incredible results! Use the competitive feedback to make progress inside your training program and system of periodization!


Find out how we specifically use athlete feedback with our own athletes in our newest coaches guide: Coaches Corner!