Feedback: what?????

Feedback: coach Barakat is leading a ruck and maul session


There are various forms of feedback, there is intrinsic – and extrinsic feedback (feedback from within your body by different senses and feedback that is given from your coach). Research has shown that the coach has to give as much feedback as possible, constantly commenting on what is happening in order to provide as much input as possible for the athlete.

Feedback should be encouragement, moving the player on and helping him to adjust to new techniques and guiding him.

So what to say?

We can use Key Factors to check execution of skill against what we see, sort of voice-over the training. For example with tackle we have a pretty long list of Key Factors:

  • Low body position on approach
  • Control pace of approach
  • Sight target area
  • Get foot in close and make shoulder contact
  • Tight arm grip
  • Head up & in a safe position – thigh level (Front tackle – to the side /  Side tackle – to the side /
  • Rear tackle – behind and below the buttock)
  • Strong leg drive
  • Maintain tight arm grasp

So, now when you watch a tackle drill, you can pick one or two Key Factors and feed back your take on the execution.

This can either be positive – or negative feedback. Personally, I am a strong believer in positive feedback, helping the player understand why his tackle was so successful.

Where to stand?

Then the next questions is where is the best place to observe?

Feedback and Open Play

All clear, but what to say when you run a tactical drill? What to feedback to players? Here I always like to guide the players to correct behaviours:

  • “Look in front of you”
  • “Position”
  • “Feet” – when positioning defenders behind the last foot in the maul/ruck
  • “Play”
  • “Keep the ball Alive”
  • “Search”

This is how I learned the French word “cherche” and Pierre gave my special nickname, but that is more a story for at the bar..

Joe Barakat

Perhaps best to see a good example. My friend Desmond Tuiavii pointed me to this clip, his former coach Joe Barakat showing his great ability in giving feedback

Great examples, positive feedback. I also like how he starts the two packs close together, high intensity but no big collisions (you see, always possible to give feedback!)

So start talking, give your players back your ideas and guide them forward in their development.