Extending the research by Amorose and Weiss (1998), the present study tested whether experience level moderates the interpretation of coaching feedback as a cue of ability in younger and older children, and examined how descriptive and prescriptive informational feedback are used as a source of competence information. Younger (7–10 years) and older (12–14 years) girls with either high or low experience playing softball watched a series of videotapes depicting four youth sport athletes attempting to hit a softball. After each attempt, whether successful or unsuccessful, a coach was heard giving each athlete a specific type of feedback, either evaluative, descriptive, prescriptive, or neutral. Participants then rated each athlete’s ability, effort, and future expectancy of success. Although the hypothesized experience-level by age-group by feedback-type interactions did not emerge, the results showed strong feedback main effects for ability, effort, and future success. Analysis of these results suggest that feedback provides important cues for ability, effort, and future expectations of success in the physical domain, and that children use several cues of competence information in addition to the coach’s feedback to derive competence information.
The authors are with the School of Kinesiology and Recreation, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-5120.