This is the second half of a post that was inspired by a video I saw documenting the pro cycling team Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12. Part of the video shows the team during a post race debrief meeting in which Lauren Tamayo is sharing her honest evaluation of the team’s performance that day. Every race or competition has valuable feedback lying within that experience – if you take the time to see it. Sometimes it’s hard to take in feedback, but it’s a necessary and valuable part of developing yourself as an athlete. Here are some tips for how to receive feedback from others and from yourself:

Receiving feedback from others:

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  1. Ask for feedback:Be proactive about asking for feedback. You can actively seek out feedback from friends, coaches, and teammates. The best candidates are people whose opinions you value and trust, who care about your goals, and will be honest with what they say. If it stings, it’s because how you perform in your sport is something that’s important to you. When you seek out feedback – you may be more open to actually receiving it.
  2. Ask for clarification:When you commit to asking for clarification while getting feedback, you are committing to actively listening to the feedback you are receiving. When we receive feedback it can often be challenging to not get defensive. It’s hard sometimes to not let the way someone says something take away from the value of what they say. When the person giving you feedback isn’t a great communicator, it can be hard to take in the information they give you. When receiving feedback you don’t have to defend yourself or have an explanation. Know that some of the feedback will apply to you and some of it won’t. Ask for clarification instead of giving your opinion.

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Receiving feedback from yourself:

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    1. Deciphering what happened vs. how we feel about what happened:My most recent trail run race was not what I expected. My immediate feeling was of disappointment. The day after the race I started to reflect back to see what I could learn from the race. Our emotions, how we feel about an event, can become a cloud obstructing our view from getting feedback about what actually happened. Instead of just being upset about my race, I could look back and see some things I needed to take responsibility for and address. Don’t let your emotional filter get in the way of getting the information that you need.
    2. Take the time to do it.Taking the time to reflect on a performance is often neglected by athletes. When you just move from one competition to the next without getting any feedback, you’re just riding around in circles on the merry-go-round, hoping that at some point you’ll jump the track to find a better landscape. After every game or race, at a minimum, you should be asking yourself:

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      • What did I do well?
      • What would I have done differently?
      • What did I learn that I want to carry forward into the next event?

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You can’t improve your performance without knowing how you are doing relative to where you want to be. Receiving feedback is how we learn. It’s a skill that needs to be honed if you want to be deliberate about improving in your sport. When you ask for feedback and do it from a place of wanting to improve – it can be easier to take in someone else’s feedback and implement it to learn and improve on your performance.